Report Card: Grading the Bengals loss to Texans

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Alex Erickson #12 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to break a tackle against the Houston Texans during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium on September 14, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 14: Alex Erickson #12 of the Cincinnati Bengals attempts to break a tackle against the Houston Texans during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium on September 14, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Here is the Cincinnati Bengals report card from their 13-9 loss to the Houston Texans on Thursday:

RUSH OFFENSE

The Good: No one got hurt.

The Bad: John Ross fumbled on his first NFL touch, and Jeremy Hill averaged 2.8 yards per carry.

Key Play: The Ross fumble not only put an abrupt end to a drive that started in Houston territory, it led to a 49-yard return that set up Houston's first score.

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Grade: F

PASS OFFENSE

The Good: A.J. Green high-pointing a deep ball to beat triple coverage was one of the few offensive highlights. Alex Erickson added career highs in receptions (four) and yards (62), including a 37-yarder that set up a game-tying field goal right before halftime.

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The Bad: Dalton completed just 51 percent of passes, and the offensive line gave up three more sacks.

Key Play: The Bengals appeared to score their first touchdown of the season when Andy Dalton high Tyler Eifert in the corner of the end zone, but the officials ruled Eifert had stepped out before catching the pass. The Bengals settled for a field goal two plays later.

»RELATED: A.J. Green not happy with offense

Grade: F

RUSH DEFENSE

The Good: Twice on third and 1 – once in the second quarter and once in the fourth – the Bengals stuffed the Texans on third and 1 inside their own 30 to get the ball back for the offense with decent field position.

The Bad: Desperately needing a stop in the final five minutes, the Bengals gave up a 19-yard to Lamar Miller on second and 8, putting the Texans on the edge of field goal position.

Key play: Even though it started as a pass play, Deshaun Foster's 49-yard scramble for the game's only touchdown goes in the books as a run.

Grade: B-

PASS DEFENSE

The Good: The Bengals sacked Watson three times and held him to 125 yards.

The Bad: Two more penalties awarded the opponent first downs as Darqueze Dennard got called for pass interference on a third-and-2 incompletion, and Adam Jones got flagged for PI on second and 20 on the Texans' final drive. Watson was 4 of 6 on that march that enabled Houston to drain 6:24 off the clock.

Key play: On third and seven from the Houston 28 on that final Houston drive, Jones gave up a 9-yard completion to Deandre Hopkins to extend the possession.

Grade: B-

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Good: Randy Bullock made all three of his field goal attempts, Kevin Huber averaged 47.7 yards per punt with a 45.6 net, including a 58-yarder that he put out of bounds at the Houston 3, and Jones had a 33-yard return on the first punt of the game.

The Bad: Huber had one subpar punt, a 31-yarder on the plus side of the field that Houston returner Tyler Erivn was able to fair catch at the 15.

Key Play: Houston kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn's 42-yard field goal that pushed the Houston lead from one to four with 1:56 to go.

Grade: A

COACHING

The Good: Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther resisted the temptation to the blitz the heck out of a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start and instead sat back and forced the Texans to try to sustain long drives without chunk plays.

The Bad: Ken Zampese's horizontal game plan continues to baffle, especially when Alex Erickson is the player getting his number called on a jet sweep with Tyler Boyd a healthy scratch and Ross essentially benched after his fumble.

Key Play: On third and 2 at their own 41 midway through the second quarter, Zampese gave the ball to his smallest back, Giovani Bernard, instead of slamming Joe Mixon or Hill into the line. Bernard got stuffed for a 1-yard gain and the Bengals punted.

Grade: D