Bengals vs. Texans: Houston Comes Up Big in Wild Card Win over Cincinnati
Well, the first of four wild-card games is in the books.
The Bengals just weren't able to overcome Houston's pressure on offense, with Bengals' quarterback Andy Dalton turning in a disappointing performance against the Texans.
Cincinnati's failure to establish any kind of running game allowed Houston to focus on shutting down the Bengals' aerial attack and rendering Cincinnati's offense useless.
The Bengals only ran the ball 16 times for 80 yards, and Andy Dalton completed just 14 of his 30 pass attempts, totalling 127 yards and threw one interception compared to zero touchdowns.
In fact, the only touchdown that the Bengals scored on the afternoon came on a Leon Hall interception return in the early stages of the second quarter.
See, when you can't establish the running game, it makes life difficult on your quarterback, who has to deal with much tougher third-down situations and a defense that can cheat and really lock down the passing game as well.
If you discount BenJarvus Green-Ellis' long run of 29 yards, the Bengals averaged just 3.4 yards per carry.
That translated to Andy Dalton being forced to throw more passes, with the Texans doubling down on some of his favorite targets, neutralizing that facet of the Bengals' game as well.
The offensive struggles also ensured that Cincinnati was forced to deal with long and unmanageable third-down attempts. As a result, Cincinnati was a dismal 0-of-9 on third downs and had a hard time sustaining any of their offensive drives (the team finished with just 198 yards of offense).
For Houston, it was smooth sailing.
Other than the second quarter hiccup that saw Matt Schaub throw a pick-six to Leon Hall, Houston rolled over Cincinnati, tallying 420 yards of offense.
Running back Arian Foster didn't disappoint, as he ran for 140 yards and a touchdown, to the delight of a packed house.
If there is one concern that the Texans should look to address this week before they head to New England next weekend, it would have to be their red-zone offense.
The Texans made it deep into Bengals' territory four times, yet had to settle for a field goal on three of those drives compared to just one touchdown.
For Cincinnati, it's back to the drawing board, as they prepare for the 2013 NFL draft and free agency, while Houston will get ready to make the trip to New England next week to take on the AFC East division winners.
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