All week the National media was talking about the Bengals. They were called “The Cardiac Cats” after winning three straight division games in the final moments. But, after Sunday's loss, they may be called the “Banged Up Bengals.”
The fighting Bengals led 17-14 at the half after a late surge that included a Carson Palmer touchdown pass, a Chris Crocker INT, and a long field goal by Shayne Graham. It was their first lead of the game, and it was short lived at that.
The second half belonged to the Texans, as they would score on the first possession of the second half and ultimately go on for the win.
Matt Schaub threw for nearly four hundred yards and four touchdowns, and running back Steve Slaton seemed to be the answer to many of the blitzes the Bengals threw at them.
The loss at home versus Houston seems to be the lesser of the bad news for Cincinnati. The AFC leader in sacks, Antwan Odom, was knocked out of the game on Houston's first play when Schaub hit Owen Daniels to take a 7-0 lead. Odom, who had 8 sacks entering the game, tore his Achilles tendon on the play, which was not the first injury to be sustained on the defensive front.
Earlier in the game, defensive tackle Domata Peko was helped off of the field with an apparent injury. This, coupled with the loss of Odom, had a definite affect on the defense of the Bengals.
Schaub seemed to have no problems with the Bengals attempt to get pressure on him. As mentioned before, the Texans were ready for every blitz. They responded with either a slip screen to Slaton, or a quick slant to Andre Johnson.
The offense was also not without its problems. Cedric Benson failed to reach 50 yards on the day, and two fumbles by the short-term tight ends seemed to spell the Bengals doom.
In the second half a turnover, three straight three-and-outs, and another turnover sealed their fait.
Palmer seemed to be getting his timing back with his receivers, but some suspect play calling and penalties doomed him and the offense.
The big questions will be who may fill in on the front line, especially if Peko can't go. Will Shirley get his jersey flipped and be given a shot at DT again? Is rookie Michael Johnson ready to step in for Odom? Are the Bengals headed for a downward turn?
I guess you can only tune in to week seven NFL to find out....