CINCINNATI — It figures that T.J. Yates and the Texans would be the ones to finally knock off the Bengals.
Yates took over after Brian Hoyer sustained a concussion on Monday night and rallied Houston to a 10-6 victory over Cincinnati, sending the Bengals their first loss — on their home field no less.
The Bengals (8-1) were trying to make NFL history and join New England and Carolina at 9-0 — there’s never been such a trio. A backup quarterback with a history of beating them got in the way.
Cincinnati contained some of the NFL’s top quarterbacks and knocked off some of its best teams while getting off to the best start in club history. The Texans (4-6) were an appropriate team to end the run.
They made Andy Dalton look bad during first-round playoff wins over the Bengals during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. Yates was behind that first one, a 31-10 victory in Houston that was the Texans’ first-ever post-season win.
On Monday night, Yates came in when Hoyer suffered a concussion in the third quarter. He ended his first drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, who made a one-handed catch in the end zone for the game’s only TD.
Dalton had another tough time against a Texans defence, going 21 of 37 for 187 yards with an interception and three sacks. Cincinnati’s final chance slipped away when A.J. Green made a catch for what would have been a first down at the Texan 23-yard line, then was stripped of the ball by Quintin Demps with 40 seconds left.
Yates finished 5 of 11 for 69 yards and the touchdown pass that decided a lacklustre game by both offences.
The Bengals led 6-3 after a first half that was filled with penalties and missed plays. Telling statistics: The quarterbacks led their teams in rushing. Hoyer had 15 yards on one scramble, and Dalton had 30 yards on five carries.
That was especially bad for the Texans, who have been trying unsuccessfully to get one of the league’s worst running games going with Arian Foster sidelined by an Achilles tendon injury. The Texans’ running backs managed only 25 yards in the first half.
It got worse when Hoyer walked off the field to get examined for a concussion after the second series of the second half. Yates hadn’t thrown a pass in a game since he was signed on Oct. 28 to replace Ryan Mallett.
On his third completion — the touchdown — Yates added to his legacy of beating the Bengals.
He led Houston to a pair of victories in 2011, including that first-ever playoff win over Cincinnati. Yates moved into the quarterback spot as a rookie that season after Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart got hurt.