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Week 10 Bengals vs Texans: Winners and Losers

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We take a look at the Bengals' winners and losers following their loss to the Texans. It was an ugly game that saw both offenses nonexistent for much of the way and the defenses having to carry their clubs.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

We take a quick look at the biggest winners and losers from the Bengals' first loss of the season, which came at the hands of the Houston Texans on Monday Night Football in the Queen City.

WINNERS

Giovani Bernard: It was clear early on the Bengals' offense wasn't in sync and not as prepared for this game as they should have been. Maybe they were just out of sorts or overlooking the Texans, but it was bad football that Giovani Bernard helped them overcome with several big plays where he had seemingly nothing to work with and picked up key first downs.

Bernard was the spark on offense that carried this unit early on when it looked like they would have done nothing without him. He also further established that he's the best running back on this team, whether he's getting the bulk of the touches or not. Bernard didn't get as many touches though in the second half as the Bengals tried to get Jeremy Hill going, which never happened, and it probably helped cost them this game.

Paul Guenther: As mentioned above, the offense was nonexistent for much of this game, leaving the defense to carry this team much of the way. They did that and then some thanks to another solid game called by defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. After his defense was up-and-down early on this season, they've now put together three solid performances in a row.

While the defense did begin breaking down in the fourth quarter, they held the Texans to just three points through three quarters while the offense was doing close to nothing. The improvement this unit has made from the beginning of the year to now is significant, and it could ultimately help land him a promotion in the future.

Dre Kirkpatrick's First Half: While the offense was sluggish in this one, the defense was on point, and so too was Dre Kirkpatrick. The much-maligned starting corner has been routinely targeted by offenses as a weakness on this defense.

However, that was not the case in this game early on. Kirkpatrick had a big first half with three key pass deflections. He was right in the hip pocket of receivers and didn't give up the big plays he's allowed too often this year. We forget this is Kirkpatrick's first season as a full-time starter and not someone coming off the bench in relief of others.

He's now someone offensive coordinators are building game plans to attack every week, and it was a rough adjustment early on this season. While he didn't play as well in the second half, his first half was arguably his best half of football this year and is something to build on going forward.

LOSERS

Bengals and Penalties: A good equalizer in a matchup of a superior Bengals team against an inferior Texans team are penalties. That was painfully evident on the Bengals' first two offensive drives as penalties helped kill each. The first drive saw a holding penalty and a false start lead to a punt before the Bengals could even get to their own 40-yard line.

The second drive got as far as the Houston 14-yard line, but ended at the 24-yard line as a false start and holding penalty led to Mike Nugent having to kick a 42-yard field goal. The drive initially was going to start at the Houston 28-yard line, but a holding penalty committed by Tyler Kroft led to it starting at the Cincinnati 49-yard line.

Having that many mistakes in one quarter of play is unacceptable for a team that wants to contend for a Super Bowl. The pre-snap penalties are really concerning since they have been an issue this season. Coming into the game, Cincinnati had committed the 11th-most pre-snap penalties of any NFL team, per NFLpenalties.com.

In the second half, it was the defense committing too many critical penalties that extended drives for the Texans and allowed them to be in this game when they had no business doing such.

Tyler Eifert: As good as Tyler Eifert is as a pass-catcher, his blocking skills leave a lot to be desired. Twice in the first quarter alone Eifert whiffed on a block as his man made a tackle for loss. No one is expecting Eifert to go out and dominate in this area, but he can't be getting pushed backward and allowing his man to make tackles for loss like he was early on against the Texans.

Eifert also had a brutal drop in the second quarter on a third-down pass that would have given the Bengals a first down in the red zone. He then had two more drops in the fourth quarter with the Bengals trailing that would have been for big gains. Eifert was more of a liability in this game than he was an asset.

Andy Dalton vs Johnathan Joseph: The same year the Bengals drafted Andy Dalton, Johnathan Joseph left to sign with the Texans. Since then, Joseph has been a thorn in Dalton's side as the veteran corner has picked off the Bengals quarterback four times in four different games.

Last year, it was a pick-six Joseph got off of Dalton, but the Bengals escaped Houston with a 22-13 win. This time around, Joseph picked off an errant Dalton throw in the third quarter. Joseph also made several other pass defenses and continued to keep Dalton from having consistency against the Texans' defense.

The Bengals' (Offense) in Primetime: This was a pathetic effort overall by the offense and will only give fuel to the fire that the Bengals struggle when the lights shine brightest. Dalton misfired on several passes. Eifert dropped easy passes, other receivers didn't get open, A.J. Green fumbled the ball on the final drive, and nothing seemed to work all night outside of Bernard.

The defense played well for most of this one, so they can't really take much blame here, but this is a team sport, and the Bengals aren't playing well enough in these scenarios.