After Sunday’s 37-31 win over the Houston Texans, two things seem pretty certain for the Cincinnati Bengals: Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell will not be coming to Cincinnati, and head coach Zac Taylor will be back for a third season.
The Bengals fourth victory of the season, and their first win on the road in the past 819 days, dropped them to sixth in the draft order. Sewell will probably not last through the third pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Taylor’s seat, meanwhile, continued to get cooler as Cincinnati doubled its win total from last season. The Bengals followed Monday night’s victory over Pittsburgh with an offensive explosion in Houston.
Quarterback Brandon Allen was on fire, completing 29 of 37 passes for 371 yards and two touchdowns, with a quarterback rating of 126.5. And just as important was the fact that Allen was not sacked and was rarely even touched in a clean pocket.
“Really nice job by those guys up front, keeping him clean,” Taylor said of his offensive line. “I thought that our tackles did a great job. Our tight ends also did an excellent job. Guys really did a good job stepping up when their number was called.”
Cincinnati rolled up 540 yards of total offense and held the ball for over 36 minutes. The Bengals scored on every possession of the second half, and punted only once in the entire game.
But it was a defense that had struggled most of the second half that finally put this game away when Sam Hubbard sacked Deshaun Watson and forced a fumble that Margus Hunt recovered with 1:36 left. It was the only turnover of the game.
“That’s life,” Taylor said of the defensive stand. “We just needed them to make one stop there. Sam did a great job there and Margus recovered it.”
And it was a formula that had been missing in close losses throughout the season.
“Just closing out games in these significant moments,” Taylor said. “The play that Sam made, we’ve been in that moment several times over the last couple of years. That needs to be a turning point for us.”
It was certainly a turning point on Sunday.
“That tells you everything you gotta know about the character and resolve of this football team,” Taylor said. “Just couldn’t be prouder of the work they put in here. Just proud to coach these guys.”
And it certainly looks like he will have the opportunity to keep coaching these guys, at least for another year. Just two short weeks ago, most people were calling for Taylor’s head. Now, they are talking about Cincinnati winning two games in a row for the first time since Weeks 4-5 of the 2018 season.
“These guys deserve it,” Taylor said. “I see it every day. We knew that moments like this were coming, we just got to continue to build off it.”