If the Texans somehow beat the Patriots in New England a week from now and then keep chugging to the Super Bowl through an AFC road that will likely go through Denver, none of this will matter. We’ll look back on today’s game, and then regret looking back on today’s game. Let’s never speak of this again.
The Texans won a football game today, and they did so by a score of 19-13. This much is obvious, and again, it’s the only fact any Texans fan or player or janitor really cares about right now. But once the euphoria fades, here are a few more fun facts for your consideration:
- The Texans had nearly a 16-minute advantage in time of possession in the first half, yet two trips to Cincinnati’s red zone resulted in only field goals. Tack on another long field goal from Shayne Graham (a 47 yarder), and Houston was only able to muster nine points despite their first-half dominance.
- That becomes even more unthinkable when we begin the assessment of Andy Dalton’s career killing night (perhaps only a slight exaggeration). Through the first quarter-and-a-half, he had -8 passing yards. Not a typo.
- He then ended the first half with only three passing yards. In his greatest trolling effort, Dalton had 15 rushing yards in the half. Yes, 12 more than his passing yardage, despite averaging only 7.5 rushing yards per game all year.
- Continuing the first-half calamity, A.J. Green — you know, that guy who had 1,350 receiving yards this season — wasn’t even targeted once. Meanwhile, Jermaine Gresham turned four targets into three drops.
- The icing on our cake of suck: the Bengals didn’t convert a single third down all game, going 0-9, and they were thumped in total offense, with the Texans’ 420 yards more than doubling their 198.
If you didn’t watch the game and just glossed over those numbers and many others (like I dunno, maybe 91 receivng yards for Owen Daniels, the tight end who averaged 47.7 yards per game throughout the regular season) the next assumption would be easy. The second half was just garbage time.
Despite all of that and despite Green not catching his first pass until the nine-minute mark of the third quarter, the final score was still within a touchdown. The Texans’ defense was dominant, and so was Arian Foster, finishing with 140 yards on 32 carries (with his 34 receiving yards, he had 174 yards from scrimmage). But too often when a big play was needed it simply didn’t come, as a Houston offense that averaged 26 points per game throughout the regular season (8th) consistently sputtered. That’s why despite all common sense, the Bengals had an opportunity to win this game on a drive that started with 6:15 left in the fourth quarter.
The ensuing failure was highlighted by a massive miss on third and 11 from the Texans’ 36-yard line. Green — who finished with five catches for 80 yards (it seems there was a correlation between getting him the ball, and the Bengals merely staying in the game…huh) — was wide open and had a step on Johnathan Joseph towards the back of the end zone. To be fair, the pass wasn’t an easy one, but it’s the kind of possible game-clinching play that elite playoff quarterbacks make.
Andy Dalton — who completed a very Tebowian 46 percent of his passes — is not elite, a word that’s tossed around far too often. The pass was overthrown by a good three yards.
And thus we returned to a familiar feeling: life without a Bengals team that wins games in January. This is the 23rd straight year without a Bengals playoff win.
Drink up, Gary Kubiak. You’ll need it this week.
He probably said “that was a pleasant and lovely win, gentlemen”. Not sure though.