November 3, 2002
Walking the Walk
by Ric Sweeney
The previously winless Bengals spent the week leading up to their showdown with the Texans talking. On Sunday, they walked all over Houston, 38-3, making good on head coach Dick LeBeau’s guarantee that his team would beat the first-year expansion team.
The Texans came out and looked determined to answer Cincinnati’s challenge. Helped by two pass interference calls on Kevin Kaesviharn, Houston moved to the Bengal 5 before settling for a 26-yard field goal from Kris Brown, his lone hit on three attempts.
The Bengals answered, driving 68 yards before Neil Rackers tied the game at 3 with a 25-yard field goal. On the series, QB Jon Kitna completed 5 of 6 passes for 59 yards, a sneak preview of what awaited the Texan defense.
On Houston’s next series, David Carr converted two third down plays and once again moved Houston to the Bengal 5. But his third down pass to Jabar Gaffney was thrown slightly behind the receiver, allowing CB Artrell Hawkins to break in front of Gaffney and return the interception 102 yards for the touchdown, putting Cincinnati ahead to stay, 10-3 as the first quarter came to a close.
After the Bengals forced a punt, Kitna and company marched 78 yards on 10 plays, scoring on a 26-yard pass from Kitna to Michael Westbrook to push their lead to 14, 17-3. Continuing his Montana-like performance, Kitna completed all four passes on the drive. Taking over after Hawkins and JoJuan Armour blocked a 46-yard field goal attempt by Brown, Kitna completed 3 of 4 passes on Cincinnati’s ensuing drive before finding Peter Warrick, who outran defenders 33 yards to the end zone, increasing Cincinnati’s halftime lead, 24-3.
Houston’s defense finally showed up as the third quarter got under way, stuffing Cincinnati twice to start the second half. But Carr and the offense stalled and were forced to punt twice. On his second punt of the half, punter Chad Stanley pinned Cincinnati at the 3, as the Reliant Stadium crowd briefly came to life. But Kitna quieted them quickly, hitting his first two passes for 25 yards. Eleven plays later, he again hooked up with Westbrook, and Cincinnati led, 31-3. Kitna was 5-of-6 on the scoring drive.
Kitna and the Bengals then converted Carr’s second interception into seven more points when he hit Chad Johnson from 10 yards out, to finish the day’s scoring, 38-3.
Offensive Line Carr was only sacked twice on the afternoon (though both were big), the fewest allowed this year. Frankly, it wasn’t a great performance (Houston only rushed for 3.3 yards a carry), but we’re fishing here.
Jermaine Lewis Likely to get lost amid all the carnage, Lewis racked up 151 yards on seven return opportunities, far and away his best performance ofthe year. The Texans’ average starting position on Lewis’ seven returns was their 29-yard line.
Chad Stanley Stanley was Houston’s lone offensive weapon on Sunday, averaging 46.3 yards on 4 punts, including two he killed inside the Bengals’ 20, one of which Houston downed at the Cincinnati 3.
Lack of Focus The Texans have no excuse for taking Cincinnati lightly after the Bengals spent the week guaranteeing they would win. Houston’s performance was listless, uninspired and embarrassing and they seemed to quit after Hawkins’ touchdown.
Pass Defense Bengal receivers were wide open (and we mean W-I-D-E) all day long, allowing the spectacularly mediocre Kitna to complete 81% of his passes. He was rushed once to our recollection and was never sacked. If you have all day to throw and wide open receivers to throw to…
Dropped Passes It was like the preseason all over again as several Texan receivers dropped passes, including two from Corey Bradford and at least one each from Gaffney and Billy Miller, who’s miff came at the Bengal goal line on the game’s opening drive.
Tied 3-3 near the end of the first quarter, Houston was driving and inside the Bengals’ five when David Carr threw behind Jabar Gaffney in the end zone, allowing Artrell Hawkins to step in front and race 102 yards the other way to put Cincinnati ahead to stay, 10-3, as the quarter came to a close.
Kicked in the mouth, Houston never seemed to recover from the sudden turn of events.
Jonathan Wells ran for 44 yards on 11 carries in the first half, slicing back against traffic and finding open lanes. Unfortunately, his services were not needed after the intermission.
Defense No one deserves mention, not when you allow Jon freaking Kitna to complete 22 of 27 passes for 263 yards and 4 touchdowns. He threw no interceptions, wasn’t pressured and found wide open receivers all day long.
Chad Stanley returned to Player of the Month form, averaging 46.3 yards on four punts, including two he placed inside the Bengals’ 20, one of which, Houston downed at the 3. Had the defense bothered showing up, he might’ve had more of an impact on the game’s outcome.
Final 1 2 3 4 F Bengals 10 14 0 14 38 Texans 3 0 0 0 3 PASS ATT CMP YDS TD/IN Carr 32 18 199 0/2 Kitna 27 22 263 4/0 RUSH ATT YDS AVG TD Wells 12 44 3.7 0 Dillon 22 92 4.2 0 REC NO YDS AVG TD Bradford 5 53 10.6 0 Warrick 7 86 12.3 1
2002 Record: (4-4) 11.10.02 | 12pm
3-23 9.29 @ Eagles 17-35 10.06 OPEN 10.13 BILLS 24-31 10.20 @ Browns 17-34 10.27 @ Jaguars 21-19 11.03 BENGALS 3-38 11.10 @ Titans 10-17 11.17 JAGUARS 21-24 11.24 GIANTS 16-14 12.01 @ Colts 3-19 12.08 @ Steelers 24-6 12.15 RAVENS 19-23 12.22 @ Redskins 10-26 12.29 TITANS 3-13 OVERALL 4-12 click on a team to read the GameDay Preview; click on the score to read the GameDay Review