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Cincinnati Bengals maintain first place with 22-13 win over Houston Texans

The Cincinnati Bengals have secured two convincing wins on the road, in New Orleans and Houston, after their embarrassing Thursday Night Football display three weeks ago. The Bengals improve to 7-3-1 and maintain first place in the AFC North.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

That's two road games... and two wins. One more waiting in Tampa Bay next week. See you soon, Michael Johnson and Anthony Collins.

For now, the Bengals are maintaining some awesome momentum. The core of Cincinnati's performances recently has been a defense that only allowed 13 points to the Texans... and that was after allowing 10 points to the Drew Brees-led New Orleans Saints.

Since losing 24-3 to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football, the Bengals have applied an offense that's highlighted by an effective rushing offense and supplemented by a passing game that was led by A.J. Green's 12 receptions and 121 yards receiving. It's the defense that's pressuring quarterbacks, applying a bend-but-don't-break philosophy, while playing against the deep pass.

With the Houston Texans reducing Cincinnati's lead to a field goal in the third quarter, Andy Dalton and company devised a response with a fantastic series of third down conversions. With 14:02 remaining in the fourth quarter and needing to generate six yards from the Bengals 34-yard line, Andy Dalton scrambled out of the pocket and found Jermaine Gresham. After the Texans failed to make contact with Gresham, Cincinnati's tight end presented the awareness (that he often gets blamed for not having) and sprinted down the sidelines for a gain of 19 yards.

Cincinnati continued to drive. After picking up another first down on A.J. Green's 13-yard catch, a quarterback sneak (thanks to Jadeveon Clowney offsides on third-five), the Bengals had third and nine from the Texas 33-yard line with 11:25 remaining. Dalton found Mohamed Sanu, who amazed everyone with a diving reception for a 10-yard gain.

First down.

After a no-gain run by Giovani Bernard and an incomplete pass to Mohamed Sanu, Dalton and Gresham were unable to hook up on a back-shoulder throw. Mike Nugent converted the 31-yard field goal to reclaim a six-point lead, 19-13.


Cincinnati's offense wiped  1:44 off the clock with a 19-13 lead, giving Houston the football back with 6:15 remaining in the game. That's it.

Houston took over at their own 16-yard line. Leon Hall deflects the first-down pass, targeting Andre Johnson and forcing the incomplete. Reggie Nelson nailed Alfred Blue at the line of scrimmage, limiting the running back to only two yards. And with 5:38 remaining in the third quarter, Carlos Dunlap dropped Ryan Mallett for a five-yard loss and forcing Houston to punt.


Now Cincinnati has third and six from the Bengals 36-yard line with 3:39 remaining in the fourth.

Dalton pump faked and then leveld the football into the flats, where Hill snagged the football in stride and gained nine yards for the first down. Tick, tock. Hill sprinted through the line of scrimmage on the ensuing play, gaining another 30 yards rushing on the following play, moving the Bengals to the Texans 25-yard line.

Following a five-yard loss by Bernard, a nine-yard run by Hill and an offensive hold by Ryan Hewitt, the Bengals had third and 16 from the Texans 31-yard line with 2:18 remaining in the third. The Bengals played it conservatively with an isolation run, allowing the clock to hit the two minute warning.


Mike Nugent converted the 49-yard field goal, giving Cincinnati a 22-13 lead with 1:55 remaining in the game.


Both teams opened with a pedestrian effort that led to a punt on each side. Cincinnati's offense resumed from their own six-yard line with 7:38 remaining in the first quarter. Following a second down batted ball by J.J. Watt, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton hit Mohamed Sanu on a quick slant to pick up 10 yards and the first down.

Then Giovani Bernard ran for 19 yards.

Then Jeremy Hill added another 13 yards, reaching the Houston Texans 49-yard line with 5:30 remaining in the first quarter.

Eventually the Bengals have third and two, with Dalton slamming a fastball into a leaping A.J. Green, reaching the Texans 21-yard line. Two plays later, the Bengals converted another third and two, reaching the Texans six-yard line on a wide open slant. By this point in the game, the Bengals have converted four of five third down opportunities.

Dalton goes under center on first down and hits a quick wide receiver screen to Mohamed Sanu, giving Cincinnati a 7-0 lead.


The Cincinnati Bengals have fourth down at the Texans one-yard line with 9:06 remaining in the second quarter.

Rather than grabbing points at an away game and prevent a possible shift in momentum, the Bengals go for it. Andy Dalton floated the football on a fade route towards the back left pylon. Green can't hold onto it (nor keep both feet in) and the Bengals turn the football over on downs... with no points scored.

That's alright.

Alfred Blue takes the handoff on Houston's opening play of this possession and was tripped up in the endzone. The defense scored a safety, giving Cincinnati a 9-0 lead.


With the Cincinnati Bengals losing the game-opening coin toss, the Houston Texans deferred to the second half and opened the third quarter on offense. On the very first play, Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett aimed a quick pass to his left without noticing Rey Maualuga's momentum shifting towards Mallett's passing lane.

Maualuga intercepted the football at Houston's 22-yard line with 14:46 remaining in the third quarter.

Cincinnati pieced together a six-play response, shoving the football into the endzone to take a commanding 16-3 lead with 11:51 remaining in the quarter. Jeremy Hill, who scored the touchdown, wasn't even touched.

That's Hill's sixth rushing touchdown of the season.

Not to be outdone, the Bengals have the football at Houston's 49-yard line with 7:30 remaining in the third. Andy Dalton poorly throws the football towards A.J. Green, where cornerback Johnathan Joseph returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown.

The Bengals are back to a six-point lead midway through the third quarter.


The Cincinnati Bengals have clearly starved themselves out of momentum. Rey Maualuga intercepts the football and that leads to a 16-3 lead after Jeremy Hill scores his sixth touchdown of the season with 11:48 remaining in the third quarter.

Then Johnathan Joseph returned an interception 60 yards, reducing Cincinnati's lead to 16-10. After the Bengals went three-and-out on offense, the Texans have third and goal from the Bengals seven-yard line with 1:58 remaining in the third.

Houston capped the 12-play possession, which spanned 60 yards, with a field goal, further reducing Houston's deficit to three points.

The game has entered the fourth quarter.


LB Vontaze Burfict RB Arian Foster
DE Margus Hunt CB Kareem Jackson
RB Rex Burkhead WR DeVier Posey
WR Dane Sanzenbacher LB Max Bullough
WR Greg Little S Josh Aubrey
OL Tanner Hawkinson T Jeff Adams
CB Chris Lewis-Harris QB Tom Savage