Despite some gaudy passing numbers, Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow just couldn’t get it done. (Photo Credit Ryan Meyer/

By Dr. John Huang

(CINCINNATI, Oh.) – You’ve no doubt heard the NFL described as a week-to-week league. One week, you’re world beaters. Seven days later, you stink up the joint.

The Cincinnati Bengals (5 – 4) did just that—stinking up the joint and losing 30 – 27 to the visiting Houston Texans (5 – 4) in front of 66,526 stunned Paycor Stadium patrons on a sunny November afternoon.

In the end, the Bengals got what they deserved—HEARTBREAK. After Cincinnati’s Evan McPherson kicked a 31-yard field goal for the improbable comeback tie at 27 apiece with only 1:33 left in the game, Texans’ backup kicker Matt Amendola drilled a 38-yarder of his own for the win as time expired.

“[I] give [Houston] a lot of credit,” said Coach Zac Taylor afterwards in his usual low-key, even-keeled manner. “I thought they played hard. They coached hard. They did a great job. Ultimately, they beat us fair and square.”

Starting Well

The beginning of this game seemed like the only thing that went according to script. The Bengals took the opening kickoff and—just like in their previous four contests—marched the ball straight down the field for quick 7 – 0 lead.

Unlike the last three contests, however, the Bengals’ second drive would result in zero points. In fact, a punt fest ensued in which Cincinnati’s offense would sputter for a mere 34 more yards for the rest of half.

Defensive Struggles

The Texans, behind the scrambling and downfield passing of rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, continuously picked up huge chunks of yardage through the air at the expense of a frustratingly porous Bengals’ defense. Stroud hit eight passes of 20 yards or more as Houston jumped out to a 20 – 7 third quarter lead.

“They did a good job,” Taylor said when asked about the number of explosive plays given up by his defense. “They’ve got explosive players. Their quarterback created [plays]. A lot of those explosives were extended plays where he got outside the pocket and found open guys. So, again, credit to them. They made the plays, and their guys did a great job.”

On the afternoon, Stroud completed an impressive 23-of-39 passes for 356 yards and a touchdown.

Despite their troubles covering Houston receivers (Noah Brown: 7 catches for 172 yards, Dalton Schultz: 4 catches for 71 yards, Tank Dell: 6 catches for 56 yards and a touchdown), Cincinnati’s opportunistic defense—to their credit—forced two key fumbles to keep the game within reach. Cam Taylor-Britt’s fourth interception in five games helped further fuel the frantic second-half comeback.

Burrow’s Performance

It took almost three quarters, but Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow tried to do his part in securing the miracle victory. Completing 27 passes on 40 attempts for 347 yards and two touchdowns wasn’t quite enough as two fourth-quarter interceptions ruined the party. A huge 64-yard TD bomb to Ja’Marr Chase and another 64-yard catch-and-run to Tyler Boyd also ended up getting lost in the shuffle.

Despite the gaudy receiving numbers (Chase: 5 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown, Boyd: 8 catches for 117 yards), the Texans’ aggressive pass rush and varied looks wreaked havoc for Burrow and crew for most of the afternoon.

“It was tough all day,” a subdued Burrow acknowledged in the postgame presser. “They’re a good defense. Veteran guys, veteran linebackers, some really good safeties that make it tough. Their defensive front has some juice and is able to get pressure on teams.”

Now in his fourth NFL season, Burrow admitted this was one of his most frustrating losses during his time in the league.

“I mean, you watched the game,” he dismissively answered when asked why it was so frustrating.

Looking Ahead

Bengals’ fans feel Burrow’s pain. What they saw today was their team coming into the game riding high on a four-game winning streak. The Bengals were squarely in the thick of a divisional title hunt. And yet, a couple of putrid quarters later, their chances of postseason success just got significantly harder.

With the loss, Cincinnati falls to last place in the AFC North behind Baltimore (7 – 3), Pittsburgh (6 – 3), and Cleveland (6 – 3).

A short week of preparation and a Thursday night road game against division-leading Baltimore is up next. Lose that one, and the Bengals may fall completely out of the hunt.

“We have to step it up,” Burrow said. “We have to be better. Today wasn’t good enough; it’s as simple as that.”

His coach concurred. “We’ve got to focus on the big one this Thursday.”

I’m not sure Cincinnati is up to the task. Remember, however, that NFL team performances can wobble from week-to-week. Hopefully, the Bengals will play like world beaters again.

Dr. John Huang is a retired orthodontist, military veteran, and award-winning author. He currently covers the Bengals’ beat for Sports View America. He is the author/coauthor of five books—Cut To The Chase, Kentucky Passion, From The Rafters Of Rupp, and Serving Up Winners. Check out his just-released new book, They Call Me Mr. Secretary, here 



Leave a Reply