CINCINNATI-- The Texans' offense looked nearly unstoppable. But so, too, did Cincinnati's offense -- especially running back Rudi Johnson.
Trailing by seven points late in the first half, the Texans rallied to take the lead twice in the second half. Houston set a team record for points in a game. But the Bengals ran roughshod over the Texans en route to a 34-27 win at Paul Brown Stadium.
Cincinnati improved to 4-5. The Texans dropped to 3-6 and still haven't won consecutive games in their brief history.
Running back Domanick Davis rushed for 104 yards and one touchdown, while David Carr threw two touchdown passes, including a 73-yarder to wide receiver Corey Bradford. But Johnson was the star, gutting the Texans for 182 yards and two touchdowns on a team-record 43 carries.
Cincinnati held the ball for more than 41 minutes, racking up 422 total yards.
Bradford is averaging 72 yards on his three TD receptions this season.
Carr returned today after missing last week's game with an ankle sprain. He completed 11 of 25 passes for 146 yards and his interception late in the fourth quarter salted the game away for the Bengals.
Cincinnati got the ball first and mixed in some no-huddle offense on its first possession. Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna converted a third down with a 14-yard pass to wide receiver Chad Johnson, then the other Johnson rumbled 21 yards to the Texans 35. It was the longest run from a Bengals running back this season.
Defensive linemen Junior Ioane and Steve Martin were both shaken up on the next snap, forcing the Texans to shuffle their defensive line even more. Johnson then ran nine yards straight up the gut before Kitna lofted a pass to tight end Matt Schobel for 11 yards, setting up Cincinnati with first and goal at the Texans 7.
Two plays later, Kitna found running back Brandon Bennett open in the left corner of the end zone for a six-yard touchdown. Kitna was 6 of 7 for 40 yards on the drive.
But wide receiver J.J. Moses gave the Texans good field position, returning the ensuing kickoff 38 yards to the Bengals 44. Wide receiver Andre Johnson ran 11 yards on a reverse but the Texans stalled from there. Kicker Kris Brown banked in a 45-yard field goal to cut the lead to 7-3.
The field goal attempt was Brown's first since Houston's loss at Tennessee on Oct. 12. He has now scored in 57 consecutive games.
Houston's defense adjusted, forcing the Bengals into a three-and-out with help from a holding penalty. Moses returned the ensuing punt to the Texans 38, but Houston could only get one first down. Chad Stanley pinned Cincinnati deep and the Texans forced another punt.
Moses returned that kick 46 yards, but a penalty on cornerback Darrick Vaughn nullified the play and brought the ball back to the Texans 26.
No problem. Carr hit Bradford on a 73-yard catch-and-run on the first play of the second quarter, giving Houston a 10-7 lead. Johnson nailed Bengals free safety Kevin Kaesviharn to spring Bradford the last 30 yards.
But Johnson carried nine times for 50 yards on the next drive to cap an exhaustive 14-play, 74-yard drive that consumed just over eight minutes.
The Texans couldn't move the ball and Stanley shanked a punt 20 yards. Cincinnati took advantage of the field position and moved the ball into kicker Shayne Graham's range. He booted a 40-yard field goal to give the Bengals a 17-10 lead.
On Cincinnati's next possession, cornerback Kenny Wright intercepted Kitna to give the Texans the ball at the Bengals 44. Davis rushed for 16 yards and then caught an 11-yard pass to move the ball to the Bengals 27. Carr then dropped back and watched the red sea part, scampering 19 yards into the open field before diving down at the Bengals 8.
Two plays later, Carr connected with wide receiver Jabar Gaffney on an eight-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with 24 seconds left in the half.
The Texans sustained that momentum to open the second half. Davis scampered down the left sideline for 51 yards, setting a team record for longest carry. Davis capped the drive with a two-yard touchdown run to give Houston a 24-17 lead. Davis accounted for 73 of the 83 yards on the scoring drive.
But the Bengals marched right back behind Kitna and Johnson, who capped a 73-yard drive with a 17-yard untouched scoring run to tie the score for the second time.
Moses set up the Texans in Cincinnati territory again and Houston was able to get a first down on an illegal contact penalty on Bengals safety Rogers Beckett. Carr then converted a 4th and 1 with a two-yard sneak to the Bengals 29.
That fourth down call was relatively easy -- the next one wasn't. But on 4th and 8, Carr found Johnson wide open over the middle for 17 yards to the Bengals 10. But Beckett sacked Carr on 3rd and goal, forcing Brown to kick a 33-yarder that gave the Texans a 27-24 lead.
But, unfortunately for the Texans, you have to give the ball back. And the Bengals pushed onward, slicing through the defense as Kitna hooked up with wide receiver Peter Warrick twice for 39 yards. Cincinnati got the ball to the Texans 6, where Johnson ran four yards on 4th and 1. He strolled into the end zone three plays later to give Cincinnati yet another lead.
The Bengals regained possession on a 34-yard Stanley punt after the Texans failed to put a significant drive together. With their eye on the clock, the Bengals drove 56 yards over 7:07 to set up a 40-yard field goal by Graham that gave the Bengals a 34-27 lead.
The Texans took possession of the ball with 2:26 remaining, but the Bengals intercepted Carr's pass at the Texans' 18-yard line. Three plays later, Kitna connected with Chad Johnson on a 12-yard pass to the one-yard line and the Bengals ran out the clock to preserve their 34-27 victory.