The Texans were hoping Sunday's game against Cincinnati would produce evidence that they've turned a corner and were ready to make a run toward a possible post season berth. Instead, it was the Bengals who looked like they were gearing up for the bright lights of the playoffs.
Both teams won big on the road last week. The Bengals followed up their domination over the Saints with another victory. While the Texans stumble to 5-6 on the year, as some of their old demons plagued them yet again.
Saddled with poor field position all day, the Texans never got their attack firing. Yards on the ground were scarce and Ryan Mallett was off target. The holes that were available last week suddenly vanished as the Bengals' front seven looked much better than the group that had been giving up almost four and a half yards per carry coming into the game.
The fact that the Texans couldn't run it, even without Arian Foster, was probably the biggest surprise of the game. With the ground attack stalled, Mallett was forced into a lot of long yardage situations, making the passing game difficult.
Mallett,making his second start, struggled, which was not exactly out of the question. Cincinnati came in with the NFL's toughest opponent quarterback rating. Drew Brees himself had a tough time making plays on them in his own gym a week ago. So you knew Houston would need to get the running game going. But it didn't happen and the Bengals pass defense went to work.
The Texans Radio Crown Royal Black post game show featured plenty of callers complaining about the defense. But that group was able to get the ball back twice in the fourth quarter, down six. Those two possessions resulted in '3 and outs,' putting extra stress on a bunch that had spent a long time on the field already. Mike Nugent's final field goal on the next drive put the game in need-a-miracle mode.
We can chat all day about 'win out and get help' scenarios but let's just put a mini to-do list on the table for now. Run the ball better, get Mallett clicking, and win. If they put a great effort together next week, then we'll take the post season temperature again. Either way, there's no more margin for error and the Texans need a truckload of help.