Despite a valiant comeback effort, the Cincinnati Bengals dropped a 30-27 decision to the Houston Texans in Week 10. That ends Cincinnati’s four-game winning streak and puts them out of the playoff picture if the season ended today.
The Bengals started the game with the ball again this week. The Texans drew a roughing passer penalty on the first play of the game to help kickstart the drive. However, Houston did get Cincinnati into a 4th-and-3, but Burrow and tight end Tanner Hudson (five catches on the drive) hooked up to pick up the first down.
Soon thereafter, Burrow hit wide receiver Trenton Irwin down the sideline for a 42-yard touchdown on an absolutely perfect throw.
Cincinnati was able to get the better of the young Houston offense. On third down, linebacker Logan Wilson nearly had a pick off Stroud when he dropped out of a blitz to cover a hot route. The Bengals offense failed to repeat the success from the first drive.
The Texans put a threatening drive together to end the first quarter. Devin Singletary ripped off a few nice runs, and Stroud was able to get them down to the Bengals’ nine-yard line for a 4th-and-short. However, Stroud failed to secure the snap from under center, and former Texan and now Bengals defensive tackle DJ Reader recovered the fumble to put an end to the drive.
Houston had better luck on their next drive after forcing a three-and-out. Wide receiver Tank Dell made big play after big play. He had a big run off a double reverse, a big first down catch, which he made rolling to the ground, and finally, a big touchdown catch to cap off the drive. It appeared Houston attempted to cause some miscommunication by sending Dell in motion to try and have Chidobe Awuzie run over the top of the defense to avoid traffic. Instead, Dell went right back outside, and even though Awuzie didn’t fall for the design, he was unable to get to Dell before he was able to make a move and get into the end zone.
The Texans had the next most successful drive. Stroud hit wide receiver Noah Brown for a sizable pickup. The drive came to an end when Wilson was able to get to Stroud on a third down. Stroud released the ball on the play, and it was initially called a fumble on the field. The ball was beginning to come out when Stroud threw it, but you could easily have made the case that he still had a little control of the ball. However, the play stood, and the Bengals had another offense drive stall out.
Houston got the ball with roughly 2:40 left in the half, and the drive started again with another pass to Brown after Stroud broke out of the pocket. On 3rd and 13, Stroud again hit Brown for another 29 yards. Cincinnati’s defense held after that, but the Texan’s backup kicker Matt Ammendola, made the 45-yard kick just inside the upright.
The Texans led at halftime 10-7. This type of start surely was not what many Bengals fans had in mind coming into today. However, Cincinnati was lucky they only trailed by three after being dominated after the first drive.
Houston started the second half with the ball. They road a few Brown catches and a gritty run from Singletary into the red zone. Stroud tossed a touchdown to wide receiver Robert Woods, but it was called back for illegal touching, a penalty that stood after a New York signaled review. The result was another field goal to keep it a one-score game.
The Bengals offense went out and had their fourth straight three-and-out. Wide receiver Tyler Boyd had a big drop on second down, but overall, the conservative plays just haven’t been gaining any yards, a season-long trend for Cincinnati.
The Texans quickly got to around the 15-yard line after rookie corner DJ Turner was hit with a pass interference. From there, Singletary found his way into the end zone for his first rushing touchdown as a Texan. The defense just looked gassed on the toss play as the running back easily hit the hole created on the outside.
The Cincinnati offense finally got some momentum after Burrow took matters into his own hands and ran for a first down. The drive was derailed by a questionable holding call on Jonah Williams. They managed to stay in field goal range, and McPherson drilled a 50-yard field goal to make it a 10-point game late in the third quarter.
The defense answered the call of the offense, finally putting points on the board again with a quick forced punt after Stroud floated one out-of-bounds deep to Dell. The Bengals took that opportunity to break this game wide open. Burrow was able to break the pocket the next drive and hit Ja’Marr Chase for a 64-yard touchdown pass. Chase was able to make a move from running a drag route to a deep route, and the two helped get the Bengals back in the game.
The Texans offense wasn’t finished. Stroud hit (who else) Brown for 34 yards to flip the field, and after a 17-yard run, they were back inside the 20. Stroud was able to find a running lane to get his second rushing touchdown of the season to get the lead up to 27-17.
Cincinnati put a nice drive together with a nice play to Boyd and a great third-down conversion by Mixon after breaking a tackle. However, Burrow tossed an interception on a seem route intended for tight end Drew Sample. It was a tall throw outside of Sample’s reach that went right to the safety behind the play.
The Texans' drive led to a punt that pinned Cincinnati inside their own 10-yard line with under six minutes left and a 10-point deficit. Burrow hit a magical third-down conversion. He got outside the pocket and threw back to Irwin in between three defenders. Then, a big play to Chase helped extend the drive, along with a penalty, as the defender had a helmet-to-helmet hit on the play. Burrow put an end to the drive, trying to create even more magic by forcing a pass into the end zone that was intercepted.
The Texans had an opportunity to ice the game with a few first downs. They got to a 3rd-and-short, and the Texans — who had been running the ball well all game — decided to run a rollout with Stroud, who attempted to hit Dell, but Cam Taylor-Britt stepped in front of the pass and returned it to the four-yard line that ended up as a one-yard rushing touchdown for Mixon to cut the lead to just three with 3:18 left.
The defense answered the huge call. After two runs, Turner made a beautiful play to break up a pass down the sideline intended for Dell. Due to the incomplete pass, the Bengals offense got the ball with 2:20 left in the game and 71 yards to go for a touchdown.
Burrow and Boyd got most of those yards before the two-minute warning, with Boyd going over the middle for a 65-yard catch and run where he broke away from the first defender’s reach, setting up a 1st-and-goal at the four-yard line.
After a sack and a quarterback draw was stuffed at the line of scrimmage, Burrow put a pass right on Boyd in the end zone, but he dropped it twice after the first one tipped back to him. That led to a game-tying field goal by McPherson. 1:33 seconds remained with the game tied at 27 with a timeout in the pocket for Stroud and Houston, only needing a field goal to win the game with a backup kicker who had not missed yet on the day.
The Texans were able to hit Brown over the middle, and no one was able to bring him down on initial contact. They were able tackle him, but well into field goal range to make it a 38-yard field goal instead of a much longer one had they made the tackle 10-15 yards when Brown was initially met.
Ammendola hit the field goal as time expired to take the win and drop the Bengals to 5-4.
It is a pretty huge loss, as the AFC North and AFC Wild Card race is so tight. The Texans are another team in that Wild Card hunt, so it is especially devastating as they could have created a bit more cushion.
Now Cincinnati has to turn around and face the Ravens on Thursday Night Football, who are near if not at the top of the AFC North (their game with the Browns pending. Every game from here feels like an absolute must-win. A young team came in looking to make a statement against the Bengals, and they simply outmuscled and coached them for most of the game.
The Bengals have to find a way to get that hunger back and fast.