Well, for the first time this season game balls will not be handed out to the Cincinnati Bengals after a victory.
Nevertheless, here are three game balls from the Bengals’ Monday night loss to the Houston Texans.
1.) RB, Giovani Bernard
For the seventh time this season, running back Giovani Bernard was the team’s leading rusher. Unfortunately, Bernard’s 36 rushing yards on Monday were the lowest in those seven contests.
Bernard was the lone member of the Bengals’ offense that did any real damage against an impressive Texans’ defensive unit.
Cincinnati converted just four of 14 third down attempts on Monday, three of them occurred with the ball in the hands of the Bernard.
On the Bengals’ second (and final) scoring drive of the game, Bernard had a tough run of four yards on a sweep to the right to pick up a first down. Just three plays later, he caught a check down from Andy Dalton and was able to pick up 14 yards and once again move the chains.
The drive would result in a field goal and a 6-3 Bengals’ lead, but it would be the last time Cincinnati put points up on the board.
2.) Defensive Coordinator, Paul Guenther
In the midst of a dumpster fire-like performance by the offense, second-year defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, or “Pauly G”, has the Bengals’ defense playing at the highest level since Mike Zimmer’s departure following the 2013 season.
On Monday, Guenther’s defense was on the field for 11 Texans’ drives– resulting in eight punts, one field goal, a touchdown, and an interception (12 drives if you count kneel down to end game).
The Bengals lost the game and that is the story line, but you have to expect wins on a consistent basis if you only allow 10 points and force eight punts.
It took a one-handed, highlight reel 22-yard snag by DeAndre Hopkins to score the only touchdown of the game. Unfortunately for Guenther, it would be enough to hang the first loss on the Bengals’ 2015 campaign.
Since the week seven bye, the Bengals’ defense has allowed just 10 points in each of the last three games. Cincinnati now has the best scoring defense in the NFL, allowing a league-best 16.9 points-per-game.
This is the first time the Bengals have held their opponents to 10 or less points in three consecutive games since weeks 12 through 14 in 2006. They went 3-0 in that stretch with wins against the Cleveland Browns (30-0), Baltimore Ravens (13-7), and Oakland Raiders (27-10).
The defense was coached by Chuck Bresnahan in that three game stretch in ’06, however, they would lose their last three games of that season and miss the playoffs–Bresnahan was fired a year later.
He is now the defensive coordinator at the University of South Florida.
3.) PK, Mike Nugent
It’s only fair that the only person to tally points in Monday’s loss receives a game ball.
Mike Nugent connected on both of his field goal attempts in the loss and since his week four miss against the Kansas City Chiefs, he has made 10 of 10 field goal attempts, although he had a kick blocked against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Centerville, Ohio native did not log a touch back on three kickoffs on Monday. However, his overall touch back percentage this season is 51.02, compared to 44.05 percent in 2014 and 37.50 in ’13.