Texans-Bengals blog from Reliant

From the press box - 5:30 p.m.The Texans have been lacking a killer instinct this season. Not today. Steve Slaton just ran in for a 20-yard touchdown on third down and one to put the Texans up 35-6 with about 10 minutes left in the game. On a sweep to the left, Johnson and Vonta Leach had key blocks, and Slaton made safety Dexter Jackson whiff on the way to his sixth touchdown of the season.

The defense responded in kind on the ensuing drive. On first down, Travis Johnson sacked Fitzpatrick - the second sack of his career - for a three-yard loss. On second down, Zac Diles stopped Cedric Benson for a one-yard gain on a run off the right tackle. On third down, Fitzpatrick aired it out deep for Chris Henry and was intercepted by a soaring Eugene Wilson, who then got up after the interception and returned the ball 17 yards to the Cincinnati 39.

Injury update: Bengals linebacker Rashad Jeanty has a foot injury and is out.

I'm going down to the field to prepare for postgame interviews. Be sure to check out HoustonTexans.com for a live press conference featuring Gary Kubiak and several Texans players after the game.

From the press box - 5:23 p.m.I wonder if Andre Johnson feels like he and Matt Schaub are on the same page now. Last Sunday, Johnson said that he and Schaub weren't even close to being as in rhythm as they were at the start of the 2007 season. That was even after he'd racked up 30 catches for 450 yards in his past three games.

Johnson just caught a nine-yard pass in which he kept his toes inbounds on the right sideline to give him 11 catches for 143 yards today. If he and Schaub aren't in sync yet, I'm quite frankly a little bit frightened.

Be curious to hear the status of Ahman Green. He ran the ball well early in this drive but was dragged down with a horse-collar tackle by Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson and has not returned. He was favoring his left leg as he walked to the sidelines.

Paid attendance was announced today at 70,112, the 66th consecutive home sellout for the Texans.

Injury update:Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko injured his ankle and is questionable to return.
From the press box - 5:09 p.m.The Bengals drove down the field and were threatening to score, but Mario Williams put an end to those hopes with a sack and forced fumble in the red zone. Williams blew past left tackle Levi Jones and jarred the ball loose from Fitzpatrick at the 14-yard line. Amobi Okoye recovered to give the Texans back the ball.

Williams, who entered the game leading all AFC defensive ends in sacks, now has seven sacks this season.

Johnson caught an eight-yard pass for a first down to end the third quarter. He now has 10 receptions for 133 yards, and this is his third consecutive 10-catch game. The Texans have a commanding 28-6 lead.

Injury update: Bengals receiver Glenn Holt injured his shoulder. His return is questionable.

From the press box - 5:04 p.m.With the Bengals driving down the field, here's an update on Schaub's still-sparkling stat line: 21-of-25 (84 percent), 255 yards, three touchdowns. He has a 148.8 rating.

From the press box - 4:59 p.m.What an effort by Kevin Walter to put the Texans up 28-6. In what's turning into a big game against his former team, Walter just caught 39-yard touchdown reception with 6:41 left in the third quarter.

Running over the middle of the field, Walter caught a pass from Schaub and fell to the ground at the 20-yard line. Walter quickly got back on his feet as Bengals corner Johnathan Joseph gave him a shove. Joseph then gave up on the play, thinking Walter was down. But both of Walter's knees were already off the ground when Joseph made contact with him.

Walter kept running and didn't see another Bengals defender until one hit him right at the goal line. By that time, it was too late and he was in for the score (which he followed up with a creative celebratory dance that didn't get much more love from the CBS commentators than Anderson's earlier celebration).

Walter has four catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns.

From the press box - 4:54 p.m.In the Best Buy College Matchup of the Week, Johnson faced off against Schaub in NCAA College Football on PlayStation3. The Texans play one matchup on the video board at each home game during a stoppage of play. Johnson, playing with his Miami Hurricanes, beat Schaub's Virginia Cavaliers 21-14. Schaub had a chance to tie the game with 13 seconds left, but was intercepted on a desperation deep pass near the end zone to seal the victory for Johnson.

From the press box - 4:46 p.m.Touchdown, Texans. Seven-yard catch by Kevin Walter. With Kris Brown's extra point, the score is now 21-6 after the Texans' 10-play, 84-yard drive to start the second half.

It's the fourth receiving touchdown of the season for Walter, which ties his career-high from 2007. I know this one meant a lot to him, coming against the team he spent his first three seasons in the league with. Walter had 30 catches for 296 yards and one touchdown in his three years with the Bengals. He has 26 receptions for 307 yards and four touchdowns just seven-and-a-half games into this season.

Injury update:Defensive end Jonathan Fanene has a hamstring injury and is doubtful to return.

From the press box - 4:40 p.m.Andre Johnson, with three catches for 55 yards on the first five plays of this drive, now has eight receptions for 116 yards in the game. It's his fourth consecutive 100-yard game, fifth of the season and 22nd of his career.

As I was typing, Johnson got another catch for 10 yards. He now has nine catches for 126. And there are more than 25 minutes remaining in the game.

Wow.

From the press box - 4:32 p.m. 14-6: The score, with the Texans leading
181-162: The Bengals' total yards vs. the Texans' total yards
10: Number of first downs by both teams
135: Passing yards by Matt Schaub, who's 14-of-17 (82 percent)
119.4: Schaub's quarterback rating
61: Receiving yards by Andre Johnson (leads all receivers)
35: Receptions by Andre Johnson in the month of October
501: Receiving yards by Andre Johnson in the month of October
2: Catches this season by David Anderson before today's game
2: Catches by Anderson on the Texans' second-quarter scoring drive, one of which went for a touchdown
73: Yards on Jacoby Jones' punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter
2: Punt return touchdowns for Jones this season, a Texans record
6: Tackles for Zac Diles (leads all defenders)
5: Tackles for Dunta Robinson in his second game back from injury

The Texans will receive the ball to start the second half.

From the press box - 4:25 p.m.Schaub's Hail Mary pass for Walter in the end zone fell incomplete at the end of the first half. Of more interest to me is that the Texans have an offense that gives them enough confidence to go for a score with the team leading 14-6 and only 0:43 showing on the clock when they started their drive at the 27-yard line.

Halftime by the numbers breakdown coming up shortly.

From the press box - 4:18 p.m.The Texans' defense held its ground in the red zone, keeping the Bengals to a field goal that made the score 14-6. Dunta Robinson made the key play on the drive, stepping in front of Fitzpatrick's pass intended for T.J. Houshmandzadeh on third-and-two.

Robinson nearly intercepted the pass after making a great break on the ball and berated himself after the play for not bringing it in. Still, it's great to see him make that kind of explosive move on the ball in only his second game back from a career-threatening knee and hamstring injury.

From the press box - 4:11 p.m.The Bengals' Fitzpatrick is keeping the chains moving almost as much with his feet as he is with his arm. Fitzpatrick just scrambled 11 yards to give the Bengals a first down from the Houston 22 with about a minute left in the half and the Bengals trailing 14-3. Fitzpatrick now has four carries for 27 yards. Passing, he's 13-of-18 for 104 yards.

From the press box - 4:03 p.m.Touchdown, Texans, and it's 14-3 with 3:23 left in the first half. Schaub found the diminuitive David Anderson for a six-yard touchdown pass to cap a 15-play, 91-yard in which the Texans did pretty much whatever they wanted to with the Bengals' defense. Anderson (5-10, 194) was wide open in the back left corner of the end zone with the Bengals' defenders crowded around the goal line.

The two players replacing injured receiver Andre' Davis - Anderson and Jacoby Jones - have accounted for the Texans' two touchdowns. Anderson, a third-year player out of Colorado State, had only two receptions for six yards before the game. He had two for 28 yards and a touchdown on that drive.

How's this for a stat line for Schaub: 10-of-11, 105 yards and a touchdown with a 136.7 passer rating. He's averaging 9.5 yards per attempt, compared to 4.6 yards per attempt for the Bengals' Fitzpatrick.

From the press box - 3:57 p.m.The Texans' offense is moving the ball down the field like a battering ram. Catches by Johnson, catches by Green, runs by Green and runs by Slaton have the Bengals' defense on its heels. The Texans, who have the fifth-ranked offense in the NFL, just got a first down in the red zone on a one-yard run by Slaton to the 13-yard line.

From the press box - 3:53 p.m.Schaub is showing good mobility today. He isn't picking up big gains with his feet, but he's turning potential sacks into positive yardage.

On the first play of the drive, Schaub scrambled for two yards on first-and-10 from the nine. After hitting David Anderson for a 22-yard gain to the Houston 36, Schaub took off running again but stopped before the line of scrimmage, turned to the right sideline and delivered a pass to Ahman Green for a five-yard gain.

From the press box - 3:48 p.m.The Bengals have been running a no-huddle offense to some measure of success in this game, but they also have three false start penalties already. Right tackle Stacy Andrews' false start on the last drive put the Bengals in a second-and-15, curtailing the momentum caused by Ryan Fitzpatrick's eight-yard scramble for a first down.

Cornerback Eugene Wilson, he of game-clinching-interception-turned-nearly-game-costing-fumble-on-the-same-play fame against Miami two weeks ago, nearly intercepted a deep pass intended for receiver Antonio Chatman in the end zone before the punt. Wilson was inactive last Sunday.

Eugene Wilson From the press box - 3:43 p.m.The receiver formerly known as Chad Johnson, Chad Ocho Cinco, is making his presence felt early on. At the end of the first quarter, he has three catches for 27 yards, including two for 21 yards on the Bengals' current drive.

His name is being announced in the stadium as "Ocho Cinco" per an official request by the Bengals' public relations department. Houston sportswriters, who are seated in the row in front of me in the press box, erupted in laughter the first time his name was called.

From the press box - 3:37 p.m.The Texans moved the ball well through the air with Schaub completions to Johnson, Walter and Daniels, but the Bengals held them to two first downs on the drive. Matt Turk punted on fourth-and-12 from the Cincinnati 44-yard line. The ball went out of bounds at the 20.

From the press box - 3:33 p.m.The Bengals made the score 7-3 with a 43-yard field goal by kicker Shayne Graham at the 6:29 mark in the first quarter. That capped a 13-play, 54-yard drive.

Jones returned the ensuing kickoff, his first kick return of the season, for 18 yards to the Houston 30-yard line.

On the Texans' first play from scrimmage, Matt Schaub executed a play-action fake and hit reciever Andre Johnson near midfield. Bengals safety Chinedum Ndukwe laid a big hit on Johnson, but he held on for a 27-yard catch, sprang up off the turf and started beating his chest to let the crowd know he wasn't fazed.

Schaub hit Kevin Walter for a seven-yard gain on the next play. I wouldn't be surprised to see Walter have a big game today against his former team, especially if the Bengals concentrate on stopping Johnson and Owen Daniels.From the press box - 3:23 p.m.
Midland native and UT product Cedric Benson has five carries for 20 yards through two Bengals possessions. Some Texans fans clamored for the team to take a look at Benson after he was cut by the Bears this summer, but Houston was content with its young running backs and veteran Ahman Green. Benson has made the most of his new opportunity in Cincinnati, taking over the starting running back job from Chris Perry only three weeks into his Bengals career.

From the press box - 3:19 p.m.Cornerback Dunta Robinson has been in on a couple of plays already with 8:20 left in the first quarter, lining up in passing situations against the Bengals' slot receiver. He has one tackle so far. Coach Gary Kubiak said that he'd like to line Robinson up in base situations today as one of the top two corners. Robinson played 25 snaps last week in his first game back from injury.

From the press box - 3:14 p.m.Jacoby Jones knew he was going to have to step up today with André Davis on the sidelines. He didn't waste any time, scoring on a 73-yard punt return on his first touch of the game. The score, Jones' second off a punt return this season, came just 2:18 into the game after the Texans' defense forced the Bengals into a three-and-out.

Jones caught the ball near the left sideline, scanned the field for a second, cut right and found a seam before taking it to the house and once again jumping into his mother's arms in the front row of the stands near the Bull Pen. Key block on the play from fullback Cecil Sapp.

That gives Jones a team record with two punt returns for a touchdown in the same season. He had a 70-yard touchdown two weeks ago against Miami.

Before the punt, the Bengals started the opening drive at their own 15-yard line thanks to a nice special teams tackle by rookie cornerback Antwaun Molden on the kickoff return. Molden has been putting his outstanding physical tools to work on special teams in recent weeks. He teamed up with Davis to down three Matt Turk punts inside the five-yard line last week versus Detroit.

Molden does a rookie diary for HoustonTexans.com this season. Jones did it last year. Coincidence?

From the press box - 3:04 p.m.Cincinnati won the toss (with a call of tails - one of their captains was heard over the stadium loudspeaker telling the referee "Never fails, baby") and elected to receive. Kickoff is minutes away.

From the press box - 2:45 p.m.With Carson Palmer still suffering from soreness in his throwing elbow, Ryan Fitzpatrick will start in his place for the fourth time this season. Fitzpatrick has struggled in his first three starts, mustering only a 65.7 passer rating, but seems to be getting into a little bit better of a rhythm with his receivers in recent weeks.

And, of course, he was the then-unkown rookie out of Harvard who led the St. Louis Rams to a stunning comeback victory over the Texans at Reliant Stadium in 2005. Fitzpatrick was the Rams' third quarterback going into that game but was pressed into action when backup Jamie Martin went out with an injury.

Though less than 15 players from that Texans team still remain in Houston and Fitzpatrick is now in Cincinnati, that win will undoubtedly give Fitzpatrick a dose of confidence this afternoon.

Don't forget to tune into Texans TV after the game to see coach Gary Kubiak's live postgame news conference.

From the press box - 1:43 p.m.
It's a beautiful day at Reliant Stadium - 81 degrees with rarely a cloud in sight for the 3:05 p.m. kickoff between the Texans and Bengals.

The Texans (2-4) are 0-3 all-time against Cincinnati (0-7), but have a two-game winning streak heading into today's game. A win today would give Houston a three-game win streak within a single season for the first time in franchise history.

Here are the inactives for today's game, hot off the press:

Texans inactives are:
11 WR André Davis
34 S Dominique Barber
52 LB Xavier Adibi
64 G Kasey Studdard
87 TE Mark Bruener
97 DT Frank Okam
94 DE N.D. Kalu
78 T Rashad Butler

Changes to the Texans' starting lineup:DeMarcus Faggins will start at left cornerback for Fred Bennett. Nick Ferguson will start at free safety for Will Demps.

Bengals inactives are:9 QB Carson Palmer (3QB)
25 CB Jamar Fletcher
51 LB Corey Mays
60 G Andrew Crummey
81 TE Ben Utecht
87 WR Andre Caldwell
89 WR Jerome Simpson
99 DT Jason Shirley

Bengals lineup notes:Fullback Reagan Maui'a has been placed on injured reserve. The Bengals have activated linebacker/defensive end Eric Henderson.

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