CINCINNATI -- The bad game finally came.
When your three best offensive players all have bad nights, it's hard to win. That’s the main takeaway from the Bengals’ loss to the Houston Texans.
Andy Dalton was just off all night. A.J. Green was missing most of the night. And Tyler Eifert dropped three of seven passes thrown his way.
As a result, the Bengals are no longer undefeated. They fell Monday night to the Texans 10-6 before a disappointed crowd of 61,381 at Paul Brown Stadium.
The loss, of course, was the Bengals’ first after opening the season with eight straight wins.
Dalton was 22-of-38 for 197 yards and one interception. Green only had two catches after the first quarter and fumbled to kill a last-grasp drive by the Bengals. Eifert had three catches and three drops.
The key is to move on.
“This game doesn’t define our season,” Dalton said. “It doesn’t define anything. We’re 8-1. We’re still leading the division. We know where we are. We’ve got to get back to what we were doing. Then we’ll be just fine.”
When J.J. Watt sacked Dalton to force a third-and-18 with just over three minutes to play, it looked like the Bengals were done. They made it interesting at least.
Dalton hit Green for 26 yards on the next play. It was Green’s first catch since the first quarter.
Dalton hit Gio Bernard for a 15-yard run-and-catch on the next play. Dalton then hit Eifert for six yards. Marvin Jones caught one for five yards.
The drive stalled at that point.
Dalton was forced to run for no gain. Bernard caught a pass for four yards. That got the clock to 54 seconds. An incomplete pass to Green made it fourth-and-6.
Dalton hit Green for a first down. But he fumbled. The play was reviewed.
The call stood. Game over.
“He came up and punched the ball out,” Green said. “Very disappointing ... Move on to next week.”
“I thought we were going to go down and score and win the game,” Dalton said. “We had a chance at the end to win. We just didn’t do it.”
Taking The Blame
There was only one touchdown in the game. T.J. Yates, in after starter Brian Hoyer suffered a concussion, threw for 22 yards to DeAndre Hopkins, who made a great catch over cornerback Adam Jones.
The TD gave the Texans the lead. They would not lose it.
“He made a good catch,” Jones said. “I’ve got to make that play. I consider myself one of the main guys on this team. I love when my number’s called. That [play] won’t happen no more hopefully.”
Jones continued for a while and then got back to blaming himself.
“24’s got to make the play,” he said. “I hold everyone accountable. Everybody knows that. I’ve got to make the play. Today, I didn’t make the play that could potentially won us the game if they don’t score right there.
Houston defensive star J.J. Watt said in an on-field interview after the game that he wanted to make the Red Rifle (Dalton) look like the Red Rider BB gun, or words to that effect.
Dalton was not happy.
“I’m disappointed in him,” Dalton said. “I have a lot respect for him. He’s a really good player. A lot of kids and a lot of people who look up to him. For him to make comments like that, (it says) it’s acceptable to do stuff like that. It’s disappointing for one of the best players in this league to come out and say something like that.
“That’s all I’m going to say about that ... It shows what he’s about.”
The crowd booed a bit as the Bengals struggled.
“That’s part of it,” Dalton said. “It’s the way that things go. There were a couple of times we didn’t put anything out there. The biggest thing for this city is we’ve done a lot good things. The fans stayed with it. There were some boos, which is part to it. That’s fine. I think at the end of the game everybody thought we were going to win the game.”
Right In The Foot
The Bengals shot themselves in foot from the start. Their first two drives never really got going because of penalties. A 27-yard punt return by Jones was wiped out by a holding penalty. The Texans were also called for holding the on the play.
On the night, the Bengals had nine penalties for 70 yards -- a lot them drive killers.
“It definitely hurt us,” Dalton said. “You can’t keep having negative plays and keep setting yourself back. It makes it tough. We’ve got to correct.”
Eifert said he’s never had a game like he had Monday night. He had three drops -- all on passes that would have been for first downs. Eifert’s hands are as good as anyone on the team.
“You try to forget about it,” he said. “There’s no excuse for it. I dropped one, and I started fighting it. You’ve got to forget about it, but it’s hard. It’s unacceptable.
“... That can’t happen. I let my teammates down. But we move on and get back to work on Wednesday.”
Don't Run, Run
At one point in the second quarter, Dalton had 19 yards rushing. The rest of the team had -3. Jeremy Hill had three yards; Bernard had two; and Jones had the 8-yard loss.
Hill ended up with three yards on four carries in the half.
Monkeys, Dogs & Sheep
After a snooze fest of a first half, the crowd was treated to halftime show featuring monkeys riding dogs herding sheep. We’re not making this up. The crowd loved it.
Sign Of The Times
Cincinnati police officers in full-body armor and carrying assault rifles were stationed outside of the gates.
UP NEXT: The Bengals go Phoenix to face the Arizona Cardinals and Carson Palmer Sunday. A lot will be written and said about that match up. The game was moved from a 4:15 start to the 8:30 game on NBC.