The Texans and the Bengals entered this game with two head coaches who were potentially playing for their jobs, and the score reflected it. The game came down to the final two minutes, but the Bengals managed to pull out a 37-31 victory, the first road game they’ve won since Week 4 of the 2018 season.
Each team scored on seemingly every drive in the second half, but the Bengals got that one stop they needed to pull out the win.
Brandon Allen’s health was unclear going into the game, but he proved to be in great shape. He completed 29 of his 37 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions or sacks. Not only was his yardage total a career high, but it was the second-highest total for the Bengals this year, behind only Joe Burrow’s 406 yards in Week 7 against the Browns.
Tee Higgins and Alex Erickson both had great games as well. Each had six receptions and combined for 187 yards.
Samaje Perine had a huge day, with a career high 95 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Deshaun Watson gave the Bengals’ defense all they could handle, with 324 yards and three touchdowns. 122 of those yards went to Brandin Cooks, who had a day after William Jackson left the game late in the second quarter.
Brandon Allen was the surprise starter, and got to work after the Bengals forced a three-and-out. He threw two screens on the opening drive that went for a combined total of 43 yards. Allen completed all five of his passes for 65 yards (albeit all under 10 yards), and finished the drive with a rub play to Drew Sample, which went for an 8-yard touchdown. This was Sample’s first career touchdown, and with 8:32 remaining in the first quarter, it put the Bengals up 7-0 after Austin Siebert’s extra point.
Former Husky TE Drew Sample with a TD for the Bengals— WestCoastCFB (@WestCoastCFB) December 27, 2020
The Bengals failed to convert on fourth down on their next drive, which gave the Texans the momentum they needed. Deshaun Watson’s first play on his third drive was a 50-yard pass to Brandin Cooks to set up the Texans inside the ten-yard line. The Bengals stood tall in the red zone, so Ka’imi Fairbairn attempted a 22-yard field goal. The kick was good, thought the Texans still trailed 7-3 with 1:22 to go in the opening quarter.
Allen kept trying to go to A.J. Green, but the connection didn’t pay off until halfway through the second quarter on a 33-yard pass. Allen went deep to Tee Higgins too, completing a 30-yard pass to get to the red zone. But the Bengals couldn’t get much further, so they settled for a Siebert field goal. He made the 35-yard attempt after missing a 49-yard kick earlier in the game, and with 3:30 left in the half, the Bengals led 10-3.
The Texans made one final push to score, and put together their longest drive of the game up to that point. The drive ended on two deep passes to Cooks, with the final pass being a 25-yard touchdown. Fairbairn made the extra point to tie the game at 10 points each with 1:54 to go in the half.
The Bengals got the ball to start the second half, and Samaje Perine broke off a 46-yard rushing touchdown for the longest run of his career. Once he broke a tackle in the secondary, it was a footrace to the end zone, which Perine won. With the extra point, the Bengals took the lead back, 17-10, with 12:59 left in the third quarter.
WHAT A RUN— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) December 27, 2020
Perine breaks multiple tackles en route to a 46-yard TD to give the Bengals (+7.5) the lead.
David Johnson had a long run of his own on the next possession. Johnson found a seam in the defense for 38 yards, with Vonn Bell making the touchdown saving tackle at the 18-yard line. Only a few plays later, Johnson found the end zone with a four-yard run with 9:05 to go in the third quarter. After the extra point, the score was tied 17-17.
The Allen deep ball worked again, as Allen went to Green and Alex Erickson on back to back plays for 56 yards, and then to Higgins for a 20 yard touchdown. Higgins dragged his feet in bounds to get the score, and the Bengals led 24-17 with 5:46 remaining in the third quarter. Allen was four for four on the drive for 83 yards and a touchdown not including 31-yard play to Higgins that was called back due to Sample blocking down field.
TEE HIGGINS IS A BEAST pic.twitter.com/TF9OPaU23q— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) December 27, 2020
Johnson got his second long run of the afternoon, this time going for 48 yards to put him over 100 yards for the first time this season. He didn’t get a rushing touchdown on this drive, but he did receive the ball on a one-yard slant in the end zone. Fairbairn hit the extra point, and the score was tied again at 24-24 with 55 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Texans RB David Johnson had 99 rushing yards in the third quarter. At 118 for the game on just 10 carries.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) December 27, 2020
The Bengals’ weren’t done. Allen kept making some great throws, but the Bengals were forced to settle for a Siebert field goal. He made the 48-yard kick, and the Bengals had the lead again, 27-24 with 10:57 to go in the game.
The Texans weren’t done scoring. Watson escaped a sack and ran the ball to get the ball near striking range. In the red zone, Watson passed to Darren Fells, who caught the ball ten yards short of the end zone, but ran right through the Bengals’ defensive backs to get the touchdown. The Texans had their first lead of the game, up 31-27 with 6:15 remaining in the game.
The Bengals took their time on the following drive. The Bengals more than they passed, but Allen still had 35 yards on three passes. Perine ran the ball into the end zone right after the two minute-warning to give the Bengals the lead again, 34-31 with 1:56 left in the game.
The Bengals needed a stop on defense, and Sam Hubbard provided the stop on a strip sack, recovered by Margus Hunt. This was the only turnover of the game for either team.
Defense made a play when we needed it most!— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) December 27, 2020
WATCH on FOX pic.twitter.com/GXCD52GXNX
The Bengals ran down the clock, and Siebert kick a 36-yard field goal with only 18 second left in the game. The Bengals now had a six point lead, which left the Texans with only a few minutes, now forced to get a touchdown.
That was all it took, and the Bengals grabbed a win from the Texans, 37-31.
The Bengals improved to 4-10-1 and were on the first win streak of the Zac Taylor era. They will go back to Cincinnati for Week 17 to play the Ravens.