CINCINNATI—The Texans were the perfect team to give the Bengals their first loss—on their home field in a big Monday night game, no less.
They have a way of doing this to them, especially if T.J. Yates is running the offence.
Yates took over in the third quarter after Brian Hoyer sustained a concussion and led Houston to a 10-6 victory last night, throwing the touchdown pass that knocked the Bengals out of the ranks of the NFL’s unbeaten.
The Bengals (8-1) were trying to make NFL history by joining New England and Carolina at 9-0—there’s never been such a trio.
But a back-up quarterback with a history of beating them got in the way.
Yates beat the Bengals twice as a rookie during the 2011 season, including a first-round playoff win that was the Texans’ first-ever in the post-season.
That experience helped get him through his impromptu performance last night.
“It’s a little nostalgic,” said Yates, who went 5-of-11 for 69 yards.
“I have a lot of good memories in Cincinnati.”
And now, another one.
Cincinnati contained some of the NFL’s top quarterbacks while getting off to the best start in club history.
Yates was something else. And so was the Texans’ defence, which looked awfully familiar, as well.
The Texans (4-5) made Andy Dalton look bad during first-round playoff wins over the Bengals during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
J.J. Watt returned an interception for a touchdown in that breakthrough playoff win in 2011.
The Texans were all over Dalton again last night.
“I feel like it’s 2011,” said Watt, who had one of the three sacks of Dalton.
“I’m pretty excited,” he added. “This is an incredible team.”
And no longer an unbeaten team—thanks in large measure to Yates.
Yates ended his first drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, who made a one-handed catch in the end zone for the game’s only TD.
“I can’t say enough about T.J. doing what he did,” said Watt.
“I think every time we come into this stadium, he should be our quarterback.”
Dalton, meanwhile, had another tough time against a Texans’ defence—going 21-of-37 for 187 yards, with an interception and three sacks.
Cincinnati’s final chance slipped away when A.J. Green made a catch for what would have been a first down at the Texans’ 23-yard line, then was stripped of the ball by Quintin Demps with 40 seconds left.
“I had both hands on the ball, and I took one off to break my fall and he ripped it out,” Green recalled.
“I was trying to break my fall.
“We’ll be all right,” he added. “It’s tough to lose.
“Not everything is going to be pretty.”
Yates’ touchdown pass decided a lacklustre game by both offences.
The Bengals led 6-3 after a first half that was filled with penalties and missed plays.
Telling statistics: the quarterbacks led their teams in rushing. Hoyer had 15 yards on one scramble while Dalton had 30 yards on five carries.
That was especially bad for the Texans, who have been trying unsuccessfully to get one of the league’s worst running games going with Arian Foster sidelined by an Achilles tendon injury.
The Texans’ running backs managed only 25 yards in the first half.
It got more foreboding when Hoyer walked off the field to get examined for a concussion after the second series of the second half.
Yates hadn’t thrown a pass in a game since he was signed Oct. 28 to replace Ryan Mallett.
But on his third completion (the touchdown), Yates added to his legacy of beating the Bengals.