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Bengals, Texans must get past awful openers

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CINCINNATI—Andy Dalton was dreadful in the Bengals' opener, turning over the ball five times and finishing with the second-lowest passer rating of his career.

He'll have one thing in his favour tonight: he tends not to let bad days linger.

The crowd at Paul Brown Stadium will get on Dalton if he comes out subpar when the Bengals host the Texans, with both teams coming off lopsided opening losses.

Dalton, who grew up in the Houston suburb of Katy, has struggled throughout his career against the Texans' in-your-face defence.

“We had a down game, I had a down game,” Dalton noted.

“I've just got to go back and play like I know I can play.”

History is on his side.

He matched his career high with four interceptions and lost a fumble during a 20-0 loss to the Ravens on Sunday—the first time Cincinnati was shut out in a home-opener.

The crowd of 55,254—10,000 below stadium capacity—jeered him off the field.

Dalton's passer rating of 28.4 was the second-lowest of his career.

His only worse game was against the Browns in 2014, when he threw three interceptions at Paul Brown Stadium and had a rating of 2.0 during a 24-3 loss.

Dalton followed it with a big game in a 27-10 win at New Orleans, throwing for three touchdowns and a rating of 143.9 that is the second-best of his career.

“He's very competitive and very particular about things,” coach Marvin Lewis said.

Dalton is 1-5 career against his hometown team, including a pair of first-round playoff losses.

He's thrown three touchdowns and seven interceptions against the defence that's been in his face and in his head.

The Bengals, meanwhile, expect his counterpart to be a rookie making his first NFL start, although the Texans hadn't said anything definitively.

Deshaun Watson took over at halftime of a 29-7 loss to the Jaguars and was 12-of-23 for 102 yards with a touchdown, an interception, and a fumble.

The first-round pick is the ninth quarterback to play for the Texans in the past five seasons.

“He's a play-maker with good instincts, and he's young,” Houston quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan said.

“He's going to make some mistakes, and it's on us to keep working with him and minimize his mistakes and get rid of them, not repeat them.”

The Texans last opened a season 0-2 in 2015. The Bengals haven't gone 0-2 since 2008.

They've been shut out in back-to-back games only once in their 50-year history, during the 2000 season.

Coach Bruce Coslet resigned after that second shutout.

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