It wasn’t easy, but the Bengals finally got a road win under their belt.
With their 37-31 victory against the Houston Texans, Zac Taylor has led his team to back-to-back wins for the first time since well before he got the Bengals’ head coaching gig. The Bengals have also now passed the Texans in the 2021 NFL Draft order, but the Miami Dolphins own the Texans’ first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
With quarterback Joe Burrow ahead of rehab schedule, the Bengals need wins more than a top-five draft pick. And that’s what they earned on Sunday. Here are the players that made it happen.
Brandon Allen: If there was any doubt that Allen was the Bengals’ best backup quarterback, it’s been completely erased. Allen was as accurate as we’ve ever seen him Sunday against a depleted Texans’ secondary. He finished the game with 371 yards on 29/37 passing and two touchdowns. He had more to work with than Deshaun Watson had, but he finished strong against the Texans’ elite young quarterback on the road.
Samaje Perine: There’s a real argument for Perine being the Bengals’ best running back on the entire roster, including Joe Mixon. Perine works well regardless of the quality of blocking and showed out with 95 yards on just 13 carries. Most of that yardage came on his impressive 46-yard touchdown run, which is the longest run by a Bengals’ running back this season. Perine took care of business against a defense that’s terrible against the run.
A.J. Green, Tee Higgins and Alex Erickson: After the first quarter, Green was listed under the losers section when he was blanketed on back-to-back plays on second drive of the game and dropped a third down conversion later in first half. Green hauled in his next four catches for 64 yards and looked damn fine doing it.
Higgins and Erickson were the real stars in a receiving corps playing without Tyler Boyd. Higgins had a couple bad drops to start but turned in a great 99-yard performance with a highlight-reel touchdown grab. He now holds the Bengals’ record for most receptions as a rookie. Erickson surprised us all with 88 yards receiving—his third highest total for a single game—on six receptions.
Darius Phillips: It’s good to see Phillips playing healthy again. The third-year cornerback had a pass breakup and stop on first drive and generally played well throughout the game, which is more than what most of the defense can say.
Sam Hubbard: He didn’t get home much, but Hubbard’s strip-sack on Watson (thoughts and prayers that he’s okay) ended the Texans’ chances of winning on the final drive of the game. Hubbard’s last sack came in Week 3 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
William Jackson: Was this the last time we will see Jackson in a Bengals’ uniform? The fifth-year cornerback was burned by Brandin Cooks in first quarter and taken out of the game by Jessie Bates in the second quarter. Jackson is dealing with a concussion and may not be able to play next Sunday. The defense plays so much better with him out there.
Josh Bynes: While Germaine Pratt looks to have improved at the end of this season, Bynes continues to be very hot-and-cold. Bynes completely missed his run fit on David Johnson’s 38-yard run in the third quarter and was blown backwards a couple plays later when Johnson ran it in the end zone to tie the game up at 17. The defense needed the injured Logan Wilson out there instead of the aging veteran in Bynes.
Markus Bailey: Welcome to the NFL, rookie. One play after allowing a David Johnson touchdown reception, Bailey was called for holding on a long Brandon Wilson return. If Marvin Lewis was still coaching this team, we may never hear from Bailey again.
Lou Anarumo: So, how about that improved defense? Watson is Watson, but there’s no reason for 2020’s David Johnson to have been this effective. If not for Hubbard’s late-game heroics, Anarumo’s defense may’ve blown this game entirely. It’s clear that there is still work to do against offenses that have talent.