The good news: if you enjoy wins over the Bengals, there are a few more where that came from.
The bad news is, DAMMIT FOLKS, why are you making me watch so much Andy Dalton?
Anyway, this week’s PCR takes place, on the calendar, four weeks after last week’s.
The Week 14 win over the Bengals clinched the 2011 AFC South. The one that I break down today is the first ever playoff win in franchise history, a 31-10 thumping of those same Cincinnati Bengals.
This was actually a close game for the entire first half, with the Bengals taking 7-0 and 10-7 leads, until the cyborg known as J.J. Watt realized full self-actualization just before the half, returning a Dalton pick 29 yards for a lead the Texans would never relinquish.
If you want to rewatch the game, or parts of it, YouTube has it in its entirety right here:
If you want to just relive the Watt pick six, here you go:
But wow, Arian Foster fumbled on the very first play from scrimmage, and was lucky to recover it. The very next play, he had a false start.
Andy Dalton fumbled a snap from center early in the game.
None of the mistakes were cataclysmic, but they easily COULD HAVE been.
2. Hey look, it’s Cincinnati offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden! The most suspect six-year head coach over the last decade or so, this side of Bill O’Brien! (Actually, that’s not fair to O’Brien, who has at least won a few division titles. Gruden in Washington was delightfully mediocre.)
In this game, they talk about Gruden being a candidate for the vacant Jacksonville spot, which would get passed around over the next few years like the potatoes at Thanksgiving — Mike Mularkey (2012) to Gus Bradley (2013-2016) to Doug Marrone (interim 2016-present).
3. One of the funniest scenes in this game is when T.J. Yates is on the sidelines between possessions, and he has all the veteran quarterbacks on the roster gathered around him, giving him advice. Think about it — Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart were both on injured reserve in street clothes, Jeff Garcia was inactive, and Jake Delhomme was the backup. No shortage of opinions in that group, I’m sure.
4. As much skepticism and, at times, apathy as has flowed around the Texans during the O’Brien Era, it’s fun to remember this 2011 campaign, where the love for the team was still so unconditional, and the crowds were LOUD, and ATTENTIVE, and PUNCTUAL. In this game, the Bengals had to go to silent counts, at times, because NRG Stadium was so loud. I long for those days to arrive again, sometime soon.
5. Because the Bengals are so bereft of big picture success, and because in the last few years they’ve reverted to their “dumpster fire” days, you forget how great Geno Atkins is. Atkins’ 10-year resume (he was a 4th round pick in 2010) is bordering on Canton-worthy — 8-time Pro Bowler, 2 -ime first team All Pro, 1-time second team All Pro, All Decade for the 2010s, and has toiled in a hellhole organization like the Bengals while largely keeping his mouth shut. Impressive.
6. Now, Geno Atkins’ greatness did not stop him and the rest of the Bengal defensive line from needing oxygen throughout the second half of this game. Credit Gary Kubiak’s zone running scheme for that.
My co-host Seth Payne says all the time that Kubiak’s scheme involves so much east-west pursuit that it grinds the fatties up front into dust. (To be clear, “fatties” is my word, not Seth’s. I’m paraphrasing. Seth would say "the sculpted Adonises” up front.)
7. This game was a referendum on the offseason Rick Smith had in 2011. Likely in danger of losing his job after the disappointing 2010 campaign (as was Gary Kubiak), Smith drafted J.J. Watt, signed Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning — by the way, those are your three picks in this game, those three guys — drafted Brooks Reed and T.J. Yates, and didn’t bite on overpaying for Nnamdi Asomugha.
Overall, Smith was a very average GM, but this group was probably his masterpiece.
Look for the poll for next week’s Pendergast Classic Rewind on my Twitter account sometime later today!