It’s win-or-go-home now as the NFL playoffs kickoff with a rematch of last year’s wild card game between the Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) and the Houston Texans (12-4). Momentum is on the side of the Bengals, who had to win eight of their past nine games just to get into the postseason, while the Texans are hobbling into the playoffs after losing three of their past four games.
Still, the Bengals have never won a playoff game away from Cincinnati, and Marvin Lewis is 0-3 all-time in postseason contests, but this has been a season of firsts for the Bengals. The Texans did win last year’s wild card game by a 31-10 score after the game Bengals held a 10-7 lead late into the second-quarter, but Houston scored 24-straight points to end their season. Thank you again for joining us for the Stripe Hype Live Blog.
Could also use a more productive second receiver…would have been nice to have Sanu for this game. Enjoyed chatting with you guys this afternoon!
Good call. Maybe motivate the Bengals to draft a playmaking linebacker high after Rey’s performance. Groom Orson Charles for a bigger role next season, start thinking about finding a new in-line tight end and grooming a left tackle of the future.
Well…still a good season. Pretty dang frustrating loss.
As much as this loss hurts, this will only motivate Dalton, Green, and rest of Bengals to work that much harder in the offseason
With that first down, game over barring a freak turnover.
One more play before the warning. Best case scenario, Bengals get the ball back with less than a minute left. No joy here in Mudville.
That’s a big throw for Schaub, but an even better job holding on to the ball.
Everyone knows the run is coming, but Texans just winning at the point of attack. Have to make a stronger push on third down.
Looked like the out route was there for the taking, better chance for a first.
Why throw a pass five yards short on fourth down?
And there it went.
Green had that. Blew past Joseph on the double move. The ball was over thrown for the first time
And there it was.
He’s had a rough day.
Okay, maybe he had a hand in there. Thought Gresham could have boxed him out, but ball was out front.
Jermaine. Gresham. Drop.
Add Kyle Cook to the Bengals offensive linemen getting beat laterally.
Great throw by Dalton.
Using Marvin Jones’ big body over the middle. Love it, think he is better on slants and comebacks than those out routes.
Okay, thankfully they threw the laundry. I just scared my dog and probably neighbors yelling PASS INTERFERENCE!
Getting jumpy against the blitz. Crowd noise + defensive pressure
Yes it will. One of my huge pet peeves.
And there’s the awful clock management that we all hate. That time out is going to be very very very sorely missed later.
I thought he would, did not see it coming at all.
Can’t believe he didn’t fumble.
Whit is just looking stiff today. Moving terribly, no bend or leverage in his pass blocking.
Keep with the short passes to AJ. Especially with that off coverage, do that ALL day.
Good start! Dalton’s chance to really silence critics.
But Tate is so scary when he has the ball. I can barely look.
Not noticeable because pass coverage has still held up. His absence would be more noticeable, but I am begrudgingly admitting Clements is playing admirably in his place.
My dislike for Tate is blinding me.
He came up hobbling a couple drives ago. Been out ever since.
Why isn’t Jones in for this return?
My heart sunk when Mays ran on late and ref threw flag. Thought it was too many men.
He’s playing not to lose.
Kubiak conservative again.
Yeah, total mismatch with MJ93 in coverage. Clements saved it.
Nice hit by Clements to keep him short.
Make up call for no helmet to helmet on AJ in the end zone
Makes sense, when is Hall ever that far out of position? Never.
Refs calling a big offensive PI?
Offensive pass interference? May have been a push off
Good job extending that play. Need a stop here.
Manny Lawson, go home.
Yeah, I would have never held onto that last catch. Took some cajones.
AJ has taken some punishment the last couple minutes
That was a grown man catch by AJ. Maybe he has some hurt ribs,Dalton has hung him up to dry a few times.
Great great great blitz pickup by BJGE.
Please no concussion for AJ. Cripes.
I like the call. Almost a game-changing TD, but ball was a bit short.
There it is. James drilled BJGE.
That’s the lead iso I wanted to see.
Not a fan, either, jam it up the gut. I would go for it here, it’s statement time. Good call, Marvin.
They had better go for it.
Don’t like the pitch play call, not one bit.
No-huddle is a very good call. Needed to jump start the offense
Like the no huddle here.
Nobody on the Bengals runs harder with the ball than Hawkins.
Short pass over the middle, nice run up the middle. The makings of a sustained drive, but that’s hard for AJ to make that catch on the slant with J-Joe playing flat footed, waiting for it.
Gresham just made a very difficult catch over the middle. The trick is to make him work for it, is better in traffic when he is forced to concentrate more.
Okay, Tate, I am warming back up to you. Just a little, though.
I guess it makes sense to get the ball to the middle of the field, play for the field goal, with the Bengals overall offensive performance. Need a sustained drive that leads to a TD desperately.
Gradkowski’s beard is fantastic.
Adam Jones on the sidelines, Taylor Mays in with Clements in the slot. I’m nervous about a Andre Johnson shot to the end zone.
Great coverage by Newman there
For all of Newman’s faults, he gets leverage against the slant as well as anyone.
Peko was blown off the ball there, but that holding call was VERY huge.
Huge holding call.
That’s why Clements struggles in the slot. He is not quick to react against a two-way release. Adam Jones hobbling is very bad news, too.
Getting killed on those TE slants
Newman has to give Johnson that cushion. That’s going to happen all day in press man.
Good penetration by Gilberry.
Wallace Gilberry just doing that underrated thing that he does. He’s like a better Geathers.
AJ did not expect that? Blitz was coming, gotta get your head around.
Thanks for that Danieal
Manning was almost lined up further upfield than the Bengals WRs
There’s that passing lane awareness. Surprised that didn’t happen earlier with Watt
And smarter about choosing his spots to be aggressive, too.
Why would you punt, exactly. That is Marvin-esque. Or at least old Marvin, he’s been more aggressive this year.
I was impressed by Clements and Hall stepping up against the run on 3rd down. Impressive stop in nickel package with Nelson up high.
Yeah, Foster could have picked that up. Luckily for the Texans, Tate was back there blowing the punt return.
Rey is a similar thumper as the NE LBs, but just not instinctive in coverage like they are.
“Marvin Lewis” brain fart coming: why would you punt on 4th-and-1 with your running game dominating?
Brandon. Effing. Tate.
Maualuga has been exposed vs. every descent runningback unfortunately. Can’t have your MLB a liability and expect to win in playoffs. Look how bad Patriots D was last year, but had two solid MLBs, helped them get to Super Bowl
Really thought the Bengals would be able to generate a better pass rush. Schaub has had quite a bit of time on nearly every throw.
Mike Mayock: “Maualuga getting exposed vs. Foster”.
If you’re that big you have to fight through that
Again, Maualuga pathetic in coverage. Moving so poorly
At least the next play Pat Sims forced Foster to not cut as hard as he would have liked, moved sidways. Good play.
Ha, just as he crosses 100!
We need Kubiak to have some “Marvin Lewis” brain farts to pull this one out. first things first though: gotta do better at containing Foster. Texans are undefeated this year when he has 100+ yards rushing.
Three and out here would be big. Houston has moved the ball pretty consistently on the last few drives, need a quick stop.
I hope so.
With the game this close, that time out could come back to haunt them.
Bad waste of a timeout.
HAHAHAHA…yes it was!
I was wondering the same thing. It was blown dead, so how would they award that? Maybe spot it where the ball was a few yards back? That would be a very Marvin-like challenge for Kubiak
Sooo….how does that work? If it’s overturned, I mean. Not like anybody picked the ball up after the play was blown dead.
When Andrew Whitworth lets speedy pass rushers get underneath his pads, that is almost always a bad situation.
Jeez, I think that might have been a fumble.
Yeah, I agree, Mayock. AJ had a great chance on that corner route.
Sure, that quick stop route only got a few yards, but I like it, too.
Great throw too
AJ DEEP! Beat J-Joe off the line in press coverage, gotta hit him on one-on-one with no safety help.
Keep going to AJ!
Hawkins in the deep flat, finding a hole in zone. Yes!
On a short timing route. More, please.
THERE IT IS! AJ!
Seeing that last commercial made me dislike Matthew Perry and Bob Costas more than I already did.
Yeah. I kinda think they gotta get points on this drive to have any chance.
A long, sustained drive is essential right now.
Houston was just dominant on that last drive. Had their way in the passing game, started to do more power running to great results.
Okay, Jay Gruden has to dial up some short, timing throws on the next series. Spread out with 3 receivers and Gresham in the slot, like at the beginning of game. This long-developing stuff just isn’t going to work.
Well, Lamur was in at least on that play, but Pacman had to respect Johnson deep and gave up the in-breaking route. Didn’t get inside leverage.
No idea. That was a killer.
Why is Manny Lawson getting so many snaps today? Ugh.
Heck of a three yard run by Foster.
Atkins had that play blown up, but backside contain was non-existent and Foster took advantage
Classic Bengals on that play.
I liked what I saw in Chris Lewis-Harris in the preseason, but plays like that won’t help his chances to stick next season.
Dalton looks hesitant to throw the ball. Hawkins started to get separation up theseam, but Dalton didn’t pull the trigger.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis has three carries…for 43 yards. Maybe give him more than three this half? I hear you, Dungy.
Like the two minute drill last week, offense looks totally different when AJ finally gets involved after silence. Might as well force it, he makes bad throws look good.
Good advice from Chris Brown of Smart Football, “Texans putting a lot of focus on AJ Green, but Cincy really needs to think players, not plays, and get ball to best playmaker”
Great stick by Adam Jones, very happy to only be down 9-7 at half.
Great closing speed on that off coverage by Pacman. Huge play to disrupt the catch.
Reggie Nelson at the line of scrimmage: so dangerous rushing the passer and playing the run
Smash 7 found Clements way too flat footed in coverage, good pass rush caused tghat wounded duck.
Nice snag by Daniels on a bad throw
Keeping them in the game for sure.
Pass rush starting to dial it up. Just what they needed. Then a monster stop vs a slow-developing screen by Burfict. Bengals defense playing when it counts today.
And Gresham has had a few big plays up the seam this season, that is true. But consistency is maddening.
Yeah, no doubt.
He would be the third best TE out of that class considering the Patriots alone, although he and Hernandez are different type players. But if Gronk were in Cincy…
Someone tell the offense Shank Graham is beating you.
He had big catch down the seam against Pittsburgh. Has to have at least two big plays today.
Jermaine was the 1st TE drafted in 2011, but has looked like the 3rd or 4th best out of the class. He has to step up or Bengals can’t win.
Could have been a better throw by Dalton on 3rd down to Gresham on the seam, and Gresham could have done a better job coming back to the ball. Has Jermaine hit his ceiling? Just not a natural pass catcher.
A terrible decision to throw it to Jones on that one, however.
Great natural hands by Marvin Jones, plucked the ball out of the air. Great ball placement by Dalton.
Gresham HAS to start catching those. TE over the middle is the best passing matchup for the Bengals.
Definitely. It’s not pretty, but Dalton has shown fairly decent pocket awareness today.
Nice job recognizing the rush and taking the yards up the middle.
Yeah it did…huge stop.
Pass rush did just enough to force an off-target throw.
Andre Johnson grabbed Adam Jones by the jersey and threw him aside. Borderline penalty, but not much Jones can do vs such a big man. Luckily pass was off target, forced the FG. 9-6 Houston.
With Clements at safety, Reggie Nelson is forced to play almost exclusively high. Really hurting the run defense.
Haha on the ego comment. Funny, and true.
Skuta already playing better and more instinctively vs the run than Maualuga
Rey has a sprained ego, his return is questionable.
In man coverage, Schaub is just going to throw it at Maualuga almost every time. And why not?
There’s Pat Sims, getting great penetration against the zone run. Both NTs have been playing out of their minds today, the rest of the d-line needs to get up to their level
He is just awful today. Cements his fate as a career back up.
Maualuga is really having a bad game.
Schaub saw man coverage and split out the TEs to move the LBs out wide, opened up the run. Good adjustment.
Peko is just killing those screen passes today.
Definitely, really seemed to hit his stride about midseason, but off the charts in those two games and today. J-Joe might be blanking AJ today, but Leon Hall is stealing the show.
Game changing picks against Philly, Pittsburgh, and here.
Leon has been huge the last few games.
Mayock agrees. Just beautiful, textbook coverage. That belongs on instructional video.
Drove to the outside shoulder, perfect technique on the out route playing in the hip pocket. BEAUTIFUL!
LEON HALL PICK SIX!!!!!
The Bengals’ Cover 3 defense is good against the run, but LBs are not fast enough for the underneath zone. Texans have the perimeter all day.
And, like Jared said, the Texans have the exact same field position after being ruled incomplete and the Bengals punt.
Dalton had Marvin Jones beating the CB and the safety over the top, underthrows the ball despite being able to step into it. Just a horrendous throw.
Poorly executed screen pass.
And the inside zone is a good way to keep that defensive line honest, plus the Bengals are getting push at the LOS. Need to keep pounding despite the deficit.
Finally a little pressure, surprisingly off the edge instead of Atkins, who is getting double teams to counteract going up against a rookie RG
They’re definitely sunk if they are playing from behind. Watt will be stunting like crazy
Not to be overdramatic this early in the game, but I really don’t like the Bengals chances at all if the Texans score a TD here. Playing from behind and putting Dalton in must-throw situations is a recipe for disaster.
A great stop by Burfict to make the play from the opposite side of the formation, stopped short of the 1st. At least they measured this time.
Despite the PI, at least Burfict was in McDaniels’ hip pocket.
Maualuga bit on the fake, did not get proper depth in zone. That Johnson catch is on him.
Nice stick by Leon Hall to stop Kevin Walter in his tracks. I thought it was looking borderline, too.
Not even a measurement?
Maualuga just can’t keep up with Owen McDaniels. Couldn’t close the gap on that out route.
Cook still not moving well, had no chance on that tackle/end stunt. Watt just too fast and sudden.
Hi Cincy, remember Connor Barwin? Sees linemen releasing, eats up the screen.
Bengals dust off the Power O, good counter to the gap-shooting tendencies of the Texans
Good. The less number 19, the better.
Adam Jones on kick returns means Marvin is pulling out all the stops…and that number 19 will be available next season.
Owen Daniels beats Maualuga on a stick route on third down. Drops the throw, which was off target thanks to Atkins pressure. Brings in Graham for the FG. 3-0 Texans
The Texans are taking advantage of the Lawson, Burfict and Maualuga LB corps by attacking the perimeter. Effective strategy.
Please sub out Manny Lawson soon. Johnson and Lawson totally sucked in on that reverse, does not have recovery speed.
Owen Daniels gets a 17-yard gain on the post route vs Maualuga. That’s why Lamur would be a better match-up.
The usual Maualuga pass coverage.
And defensive line staying in their gap assignments vs the zone run. Can’t get impatient.
So far, Cincy’s offensive game plan looks solid. Some hiccups, but those spread sets with Gresham in the slot could be effective against man covg
Then Gresham got out-muscled by Glover Quin, Cincy has to punt.
Gresham with the drop, but expect to see plenty of post routes from Gresham with Houston’s depleted ILB corps
Like Burfict and Maualuga showing the sugar A gap blitz, then jumping out to a regular set before the snap. Forces Schaub to throw it outside short of the 1st
Nice job sniffing out that screen.
Good defense on the play action, Bengals start off playing disciplined. Like to see Lamur out there from the beginning
These JJ Watt highlights are rather depressing and scary.
A big key has to be Dalton moving well in the pocket in respect to creating passing lanes. He struggles sometimes and this team could make him pay.
Agreed on Crocker, Clements provided some nice secondary depth, and now that’s gone. Should be ok as long as everyone was stays upright.
Found a way to log on my phone, so I’ll hopefully be on as well. Crocker not playing isn’t a huge loss because there’s not much drop off between him and Nate Clements.
Meanwhile, texans don’t have Tim Dobbins, and starting in his place is Barrett Rudd, who averaged 6 snaps a game.
Big key I’m watching for offensively is for the Bengals to produce positive yardage on first and second downs. Dalton has really struggled in third-and-long situations this year.
All right! T-minus 36 minutes until kickoff!!