Here are five more things to know about Thursday night’s game:
Green sees red
A good rule of thumb when things aren’t going well offensively is to get the ball to your best player.
That philosophy produced the longest play of the night for the Bengals when quarterback Andy Dalton heaved a deep, arching ball into triple coverage in the first quarter, and wide receiver A.J. Green went up and got it for a 50-yard reception.
But the Bengals inexplicably ignored Green in a second half that saw him catch two passes for 3 yards , even with both of Houston’s starting cornerbacks knocked out with injuries.
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And it was clear after the game Green wasn’t happy about it.
“We have to find a way to get our playmakers the ball,” Green said. “Whatever that is, play-calling, whatever it is, we’ve got to do that. This is a superstar-driven league.
“We can live with Andy missing a throw here or there,” Green added. “We can live with that, but when it’s crunch time, we’ve got find a way to get our playmakers the ball. I put in a lot of work and not getting the ball like that, it’s tough.”
And hard to explain, although Dalton tried.
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“You want to get him involved as much as possible, but teams try to take him away,” Dalton said. “Obviously you want the ball in his hands as much as possible. You’ve got your best player out there, you want him to be a focal point. We’re going to have to look at it and see what we can do differently.”
Bengals rookie first-round pick John Ross made his debut, but it’s one he’d rather forget.
On his first NFL touch, Ross showed off his speed when he ran around left end and got into the secondary. But Houston cornerback Kareem Jackson hit Ross after a 12-yard gain and popped the ball loose. Texans linebacker Jadeveon Clowney plucked it out of the air and returned it 49 yards to the Cincinnati 20 to set up Houston’s first points.
“I should have been higher and tighter with the ball,” Ross said. “But that was a good play by (Jackson). He got his helmet on the ball.”
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The fumble came with 4:46 left in the first quarter. Ross didn’t step on the field again until the second half, playing one snap in the third quarter and one in the fourth without another touch or target.
“I think it would be tough for anybody to have to sit on the sideline,” Ross said. “So that’s a learning experience. It’s no one’s fault but mine. You have to sit there and blame yourself because I did it.
“It was my first game,” he added. “I got my feet wet a little bit. You always want to learn from stuff like this. I was also told that one play doesn’t make your NFL career. I get to grow from this. I’ve got a lot more opportunities coming.”
While Ross was active for the first time, Tyler Boyd, last year’s second-round pick, was inactive for the first time. Coach Marvin Lewis said after the game it was not medical related without elaborating.
Geno Atkins sacked Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson twice to run his streak of consecutive games with at least a half sack to six.
The first one came early in the second quarter on a third-and-10 play, forcing a punt.
The second one
came late in the second quarter, two plays before Watson's 49-yard touchdown gave the Texans a 10-3 lead 50 seconds before halftime.
The two sacks tied Atkins’ career high, which he had recorded five other times. The Bengals had been 4-1 in games when Atkins had two sacks.
Even when the Bengals score a touchdown, they don’t.
The team thought it had broken the drought on its opening drive of the third quarter when Dalton scrambled to his left and found tight end Tyler Eifert all alone in the end zone.
But Eifert was penalized for an illegal touch because he stepped out of bounds before catching the pass.
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“I’ve got to be more aware,” Eifert said. “That’s pretty basic stuff. It should never happen.”
Dalton’s next pass was incomplete, forcing the Bengals to settle for a field goal that made it 10-6 after a 17-play, 63-yard drive to begin the third quarter that took 8:34 off the clock.
“I looked up there, and he was open,” Dalton said. “I didn’t see him step out. The way he was acting like he was open, I don’t think he knew he stepped out.”
In addition to being the first team to play its first two games at home and fail to score a touchdown since 1939, the Bengals set another futility mark. They are the first team to play its first two at home and score nine or fewer points since the 1949 Green Bay Packers, according to NFL Research.
It’s also the first time in franchise history the Bengals have failed to score a touchdown in back-to-back home games. Only five other times has it happened twice in a season — 1968 (finished 3-11), 1978 (4-12), 1984 (8-8), 1993 (3-13), 1998 (3-13).
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No Bengals team has made the playoffs after starting 0-2.
Losing 10-9 heading into the fourth quarter, the Bengals fell to 16-82-1 when trailing after three quarters under Lewis.
The Bengals are 1-8 in their last nine games against the Texans, and in the last six they have scored an average of 11.7 points.