Bengals - 13
Texans - 19
The Bengals did what they could on the defensive side of the ball, but the stale offense just could not get a head of steam at any point to keep pace with Houston.
Even after a blazing 7-1 finish to the season, the Bengals simply could not perform in the spotlight once again as the Texans looked to be one step ahead of them for the duration.
The Bengals could not overcome the last of their demons by winning a playoff game as they now go to 0-4 under Marvin Lewis in his 10 years with the club.
Be sure to keep this window open during the game for instant game grades and player analysis for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Grades for players and positional units are based upon the criteria listed below:
An "A" grade is granted to a player who far surpasses the expectations set out for him during the game. This player will absolutely be a key factor to the success of his team.
A "B" grade will be given to a player who plays at an above-average level and contributes throughout the game with very few mistakes.
A "C" grade is handed to a player who has an average game. He may not put up gaudy numbers or be a major contributor, but he will not be the main cause for certain team failures.
A "D" grade will be granted to a player who plays below his ability level. This player would have seen better days on the field and would most likely want a do-over for his performance.
An "F" grade will stick to a player who fails at all levels during a game. He may even be one key factor to a team's struggles, or even their loss.
Andy Dalton could not find any kind of rhythm against the Texans today and provided a dismal performance.
Overall Game Grade - D
Andy Dalton had one of his worst games of the season against the Texans today. Unfortunately, that has become a trend for this quarterback of late.
Dalton struggled late in the season as he continued to look uncomfortable in the pocket and struggled with his accuracy while constantly over-throwing intended targets.
During this contest, he did have a few very nice throws, but they were heavily overshadowed by his poor ones. The throw that will be most memorable in this game would be over-throwing a wide open A.J. Green in the end-zone which would have been a go-ahead score.
The final stats of the game for Dalton are as follows: 14/30 for 127 yards, zero touchdown and one interception for a 44.7 quarterback rating.
Dalton was not helped much throughout the game as his offensive line continued to leave him in duress and receivers struggled with dropped passes once again.
It will be back to the drawing board for Dalton and company as they try to figure out what went wrong over the last half of the season.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis was great against the Texans, but the play-calling did not allow him many touches.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis - Overall Game Grade - B+
BenJarvus Green-Ellis was one of the very few bright spots on the Bengals offense today. Green-Ellis averaged 5.7 yards-per-carry with a long run of 29 yards.
One would think that based on those numbers, he would be given many carries over the course of the game. That was not the case against the Texans.
Green-Ellis only received 11 carries that totaled 63 yards. With the passing game struggling, Green-Ellis would seem to be the go-to guy. With very few touches, the Bengals offense became very one-dimensional and could not control the clock.
A.J. Green did not see a target in the first half but made up for it in the second.
A.J. Green - Overall Game Grade - A
A.J. Green once again showed why he is one of the most dominant wide receivers in all of football. Green was not targeted at all in the first half, but came out in the second half with five receptions for 80 yards and a long reception of 45 yards.
These would generally be good numbers for a receiver in the duration of a football game, but Green was able to do this in one half against a very good defense and with a struggling quarterback.
It is a wonder why Green was not utilized early in the game because he is a game-changer when he touches the football on any occasion.
Marvin Jones - Overall Game Grade - C
Marvin Jones did what he could against the Texans defense in his first trip to the playoffs as a rookie. Unfortunately, it was not enough.
Jones totaled three receptions for 34 yards but struggled creating space against defensive backs. He will need more time to develop and could turn into a good receiver down the road, but he was clearly not ready to play on this kind of stage.
Jermaine Gresham struggled against the Texans and could not contribute to the passing game at all.
Jermaine Gresham - Overall Game Grade - F
Jermaine Gresham had arguably the worst game of his professional career against the Texans today.
Early in the game he struggled as he dropped an easy pass that would have gone for a first down to sustain a Bengals drive.
Unfortunately, Gresham's struggles did not stop there. He was credited with three drops over the course of the game and only had two catches which totaled seven yards.
With the passing game struggling, Gresham could not afford to slump like he did today and was a major factor in the Bengals aerial woes.
The Bengals offensive line could not give Andy Dalton the time to find his receivers down field.
Offensive Line - Overall Game Grade - C-
The offensive line continued its struggles from the regular season. They were able to open up holes in the running game when it was utilized, but they failed to protect Dalton for the most part against a good Texans defensive line.
Dalton was constantly under pressure throughout the game which is a big reason why the passing game fell dormant. Right tackle Andre Smith did a nice job containing J.J. Watt for the most part as Watt had one sack of Dalton and one pass knocked down.
Aside from that, the rest of the line struggled in pass protection and did not allow the offense the time that was needed to gain any momentum.
The Bengals' dangerous defensive line was held virtually invisible for the playoff game against the Texans.
Defensive Line - Overall Game Grade - C-
The Bengals defensive line may have had its worst day since the beginning of the season. They were unable to get any kind of consistent pressure on Matt Schaub and did not record a single sack on the day.
Right tackle Andre Smith had a nice game against the always dangerous J.J. Watt who recorded one sack and one pass deflected at the line of scrimmage. He was the one bright spot in pass protection for the Bengals in this contest.
Schaub was granted lots of time to find open receivers and tormented the Bengals because of it.
At first, the defensive line did a nice job of containing Arian Foster in the running game. However, they were left on the field for a great amount of time and were worn down by the time the second half came around.
Because of this, Foster was able to gain over 130 yards rushing on this defensive front. The line did not seem to work well as a unit today which doomed them from the beginning of the game.
With so much talent on this line, it is a wonder how they could struggle so terribly in a game that meant so much.
Vontaze Burfict one again had a very nice game, but the rest of the linebacker corps struggled throughout.
Vontaze Burfict - Overall Game Grade - B-
Vontaze Bufict only recorded six tackles against the Texans today, but was all over the field in usual fashion. Even when Burfict was not recording a tackle, he was right on his man and always around the football.
Burfict has become a very legitimate starter in the league and will be a staple on this Bengals defense for years to come.
Rey Maualuga - Overall Game Grade - D-
Rey Maualuga was underwhelming once again today. Yes, he recorded 10 tackles which tied for the team high, but was absolutely atrocious in coverage.
Maualuga was constantly beaten by tight end Owen Daniels in the passing game. He continued to be out of position on many plays and when given a chance to tackle in space, he whiffed on several occasions.
This could very well be the last game that Maualuga will see in a Bengals uniform as he becomes an unrestricted free agent during the offseason.
Leon Hall recorded his second pick-six in three games.
Leon Hall - Overall Game Grade - A
Leon Hall was true to form as an starting cornerback today. He did not allow any long receptions to receivers that he was covering and he added an interception returned for a touchdown for the second time in three games.
Hall ended up scoring the Bengals only touchdown on the day which was the exact same scenario against the Steelers in Week 16 which propelled the Bengals into the playoffs.
Hall will continue to be the cornerstone of this Bengals secondary and continues to prove worthy of his first-round pedigree.
Reggie Nelson - Overall Game Grade - B
Reggie Nelson had a very typical game for this free safety. He was flying all over the field and made great tackles in space both in the running game and the passing game.
Nelson finished tied for first on the team with 10 total tackles. He was a major factor in holding the Texans to field goals early in the game and continues to be a great asset in Cincinnati's secondary.
Nate Clements - Overall Game Grade - D
Nate Clements got the start today because of the injured Chris Crocker. Unfortunately, Clements was not on point throughout the game. He was seen out of position on many passing plays and allowed receptions in his area when in zone coverage.
He also was not a great force in run support as he struggled at times with open-field tackling. Clements is really starting to show his age and one must wonder how much longer he will be able to be serviceable in this league.
Josh Brown continued to be successful with the Bengals today as he connected on two field goals.
Josh Brown - Overall Game Grade - A
Josh Brown continued to dominate in the kicking game while with the Bengals. He was named the AFC offensive player of the month in December, and he continued his pace is this January contest.
Brown connected on his two field goal attempts on the day which were good from 33 and 47 yards. Brown may have just found himself a full-time gig with Cincinnati as Mike Nugent is dealing with injury problems and will become a free agent during the offseason.
Kevin Huber - Overall Game Grade - A
Kevin Huber also had a great day punting the football. Huber was a huge factor in the field position battle which favored Cincinnati for most of the game.
Huber punted five times for an average of 46.6 yards with a long of 53 yards. These numbers included three punts out of the five that were downed inside the opponents 20 yard line.
Special teams proved to be special today for the Bengals despite their struggles elsewhere.
The coaching staff did not seem to have their players ready for the Texans in today's contest.
Marvin Lewis - Overall Game Grade - C
As far as game management is concerned, Marvin Lewis made all the right calls. He was able to put his team in positions to win the game despite their struggles.
The reason for Lewis' average grade is that he failed to make appropriate adjustments to keep pace with the Texans.
Lewis could have done a better job with his communication with his coordinators today in order to see some success for his team. He was unable to do so and is now 0-4 in the playoffs during his 10 year tenure in Cincinnati.
Jay Gruden - Overall Game Grade - D-
Jay Gruden has been running a very ineffective offense for several weeks now and has no excuse for the way his team performed today.
He got away from the running game which was the only strong point of his scheme as Green-Ellis only received 11 carries.
Play calling in the red-zone was once again a major issue for Gruden as his offense was unable to score a touchdown for the second time in three weeks.
Gruden's offense went 0-9 on third downs and in nine possessions totaled only two field goals.
Gruden was being considered as a head coach candidate by certain teams, but one much wonder if that will change after this poor performance on such a large stage.
Mike Zimmer - Overall Game Grade - B
Mike Zimmer was once again the most prepared coach on the Bengals' staff. He had his defense fired up and picked up on what the Texans were trying to do early in the game.
Unfortunately, he did not get any help from the offense and his players became exhausted half-way through the game which allowed Foster and Schaub to put up big numbers against his players.
Zimmer could have done a better job with blitz packages to try to force more pressure on Schaub, but his defense only allowed one touchdown throughout the game and forced Houston to settle for field goals on numerous drives.