For the Bengals that didn’t happen as they miserably failed to score a touchdown for the second straight week and fell to the Texans, 13-9.
We’ll have to wait 10 days to hope to see the Bengals’ first touchdown of the 2017 regular season.
Defenses dominated as expected. The Bengals were able to convert red-zone opportunities into points, but were unable to make the final push into the end zone. Andy Dalton followed up a historically bad performance in Week 1 with an improved outing.
The true playmakers for the Bengals on Sunday were on defense, and they came back to continue their incredible play. Adam Jones returned from his suspension and his presence was felt all around. Linebackers Vincent Rey and Nick Vigil stepped up to replace a suspended Vontaze Burfict and led the team in tackles. Even the special teams were able to keep the Texans pinned deep most of the game, which helped the defense hold the Texans to two scores.
The Bengals were looking to avoid going 0-2 for the first time since 2008. The last time the Bengals dropped their first two games, the ended up losing the next six after that and then finished the year 4-11-1, according to ESPN.
Both offenses continue to struggle in the first quarter. The first score of the game came to the Texans thanks to a fumble recovered for 49 yards by Jadeveon Clowney. John Ross, who made his much anticipated NFL debut on Thursday, got off to a very poor start by giving up a fumble which allowed the Texans to move into the red zone. Fortunately, the Bengals were able to bend but not break at forest Houston to settle for three points. Ka’imi Fairbairn’s kick was good from 26 yards.
The Bengals, down 3-0, responded to the first score of the game with a 41 yard kick return by Alex Erickson on the ensuing kickoff. From their 37 yard line, the Bengals followed it up with yet another huge play. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green finally connected on a deep ball, beating double coverage for 50 yards.
The Bengals were unable to gain any more yardage after that play, settling for a field goal. Randy Bullock attempted his first field goal of the season and was good from 39 yards. Bullock put the Bengals on the scoreboard for the first time in 2017. The score was tied 3-3 with 13:48 left in the second quarter.
For most of the remainder of the second quarter both teams tried unsuccessfully to run the ball between the tackles. As the two-minute warning emerged, the Texans opened up their playbook and started moving downfield. Geno Atkins nearly slowed Houston’s offense to a halt by pounding Deshaun Watson for an 11-yard sack.
However, on the ensuing third down, Watson escaped the Bengal’s pressure and ended up scrambling for 49 yards to the end zone. With the extra point, the Texans led 10-3.
The Bengals only 63 seconds to try and answer. Thanks to a 22-yard catch by Alex Erickson and a 37 yard catch from Tyler Eifert, the Bengals were able to get into field goal range. Bullock nailed his 29-yard attempt and cut the Texans’ lead to four points. The Bengals went into the locker room at halftime trailing 10-6.
As uninspiring as the offense was, the defense tried picking up their slack. Adam Jones and Atkins in particular stood out.
Adam Jones didn't allow a single reception from four targets in the first half pic.twitter.com/KNz0UId7t0— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 15, 2017
Geno Atkins introduced himself to Deshaun Watson in the first half pic.twitter.com/J1mT0EnpWO— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 15, 2017
The Bengals came out firing on all cylinders on the first drive of the second half. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard were able to gain yards up the middle as Dalton was able to throw the ball all over the field. When the Bengals looked like they were slowing, Hill lept over the line to convert on 4th and 2 in the red zone.
The all-elusive touchdown still remained out of the Bengals reach, however, so the Bengals were forced to settle for a 30-yard field goal. Bullock brought the Bengals within one point with 6:26 left in the third quarter.
The remainder of the game turned into a defensive duel. The Bengals defense continued to hold Watson to minimal gains and stopped the run game on a couple short 3rd down conversion attempts.
The bad new for the Bengals is the Texans defense was equally effective.
Bengals facing a team without its starting CBs and can’t buy a first down— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) September 15, 2017
The Bengals finally wore down as the Texans began to mount another scoring drive. Jones, who had been solid all game long, began to fade against their best receiver in DeAndre Hopkins. The Bengals found that Hopkins was still human, as their drive was halted by an offensive pass interference penalty. Fairbairn converted a field goal from 26 yards and left the Bengals 1:32 to respond.
The Bengals were unable to gain so much as a first down. The Bengals would continue their inability to score touchdowns and ultimately lose the game 13-9.
It’s going to be a long 10 days.