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Week 16 Game Recap: Cincinnati Bengals 10, Houston Texans 12


What you need to know

Cincinnati Bengals

The highlights were few and far between for the Bengals offense in another ugly primetime game. Brandon LaFell took a fourth-quarter slant for an 86-yard touchdown, but otherwise the offense did very little, except for a pair of nice drives in the two-minute offense. In the final minute before halftime, Dalton led a long drive for a field goal to break the scoreless tie. In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, Dalton led what should have been a game-winning drive into field goal range. But newly signed kicker Randy Bullock missed the kick and the Bengals suffered yet another frustrating close loss. With Jeremy Hill completely ineffective, Rex Burkhead is getting an extended audition at the position. He out-touched Hill 16-to-7. It was expected A.J. Green would make his return in Week 16, but team management and the training staff made the late call to hold him out. His status for Week 17 is uncertain.

Houston Texans

- Lamar Miller sat out due to an injured ankle. He worked out prior to the game but the team thought it was in his best interest to sit out and get ready for the playoffs.

- Akeem Hunt continues to get plays with the offense and he had the longest reception of the game for 24 yards beating a blitz out of the backfield with Savage hitting him in stride. He is getting 2-3 touches a game but not enough to warrant consideration for more.

Cincinnati Bengals

QB Andy Dalton, 63 offensive snaps, Pass: 28 - 41 - 268 - 1 TD / 1 INT
Dalton was without his top three targets (A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard) and playing behind a makeshift offensive line that featured a pair of overmatched young offensive tackles. The lack of surrounding talent showed. With no fear of the running game, the Texans defense was able to pin their ears back and rush. Dalton took three more sacks and had to throw the ball away on a number of other occasions. Daltonís interception went right through the hands of his intended receiver Tyler Boyd. He probably put slightly too much speed on the pass, but it was till a catch his receiver should have made. Over a third of Daltonís pass yardage came on an 86-yard touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell. It was a short slant and LaFell did the damage with his run after the catch. On an otherwise miserable offensive day, Dalton deserves credit for his work in the two-minute drill. He led a field goal drive in the final minutes before halftime to break the scoreless tie. He also led a late fourth-quarter drive to set up the Bengals for a last second, game-winning field goal (that Randy Bullock missed).

RB Rex Burkhead, 49 offensive snaps, Rush: 12 - 42 - 0, Rec: 4 - 25 - 0 (4 targets)
Burkhead led the Bengals with 16 touches and was again the most effective running back on the roster. With the Bengals line struggling to open holes, it has been incumbent upon the running backs to make the first man miss to pick up positive yardage. Burkhead has done a decent job of that, showing quick feet and nice vision. He has seen his role in the offense grow down the stretch. He has at least nine touches in each of the past four games and should be in for a relatively solid workload again in Week 17. Burkhead is a free agent in the offseason and the Bengals may continue to give him an extended audition since there is nothing to play for down the stretch.

RB Jeremy Hill, 13 offensive snaps, Rush: 7 - 8 - 0
Aside from a pair of big games against the Browns, 2016 has been a nightmare season for Hill. He had no room to operate against the Texans and did nothing to make anything happen on his own. On the one play where the Bengals beleaguered line opened up a decent hole for Hill, he turned what should have been a 7-yard gain and first down into a gain of just four yards by cutting backwards to try to get outside and losing yards at the end of the run. Rex Burkhead has been the better back over the past month and that says more about how poorly Hill is playing (and the way the Bengals are using him) than it does about Burkhead.

WR Cody Core, 39 offensive snaps, Rec: 8 - 39 - 0 (14 targets)
A.J. Green was forced to sit out by the Bengals front office, with the edict coming down on Saturday. It looked like the Bengals stuck with the original A.J. Green game plan though with Core playing the role of Green. The rookie receiver led the team with a whopping 14 targets. Core had only been targeted eight times all season coming into the game. He wasnít able to make much happen with the heavy volume (less than 3.0 yards per target), but it was in part due the overall struggles of the offense. Core was often targeted on short, quick-hitting routes against the Texans off coverage when Dalton had to get rid of the ball quickly. When Core was targeted down the field on 50/50 balls, he was unable to make the play. While he is an impressive size/speed athlete, Core doesnít show the natural ball skills to be a consistent deep threat and is likely designed to settle into a backup role where he should stick due to his special team value.

WR Brandon LaFell, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 130 - 1 (10 targets)
LaFell had the only highlight of the game for the Bengals offense. He took a 3rd-and-5 slant for an 86-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter. He lined up outside used a slight rub from the slot receiver to get open and caught the short pass in stride. He cut upfield, made one man miss and was off to the races. LaFell isnít a blazer, but he has solid enough speed (4.54) to make the occasional big play. The veteran has been a strong addition to the Bengals receiving corp and the Bengals will likely make him a priority target in free agency.

WR Tyler Boyd, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (4 targets)
Boyd was responsible for the Bengals only turnover of the game. He had the ball go right through his hands on a short crossing route and it bounced straight to the trailing Safety. The pass had a little heat on it, but it shouldnít have been too much of a problem for the normally sure-handed rookie.

TE C.J. Uzomah, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 28 - 0 (6 targets)
The third string tight end saw his first action in six weeks with Tyler Eifert and Backup Tyler Kroft both sitting due to injuries. He provided a solid underneath target for Dalton and caught five of his six targets. If Eifert and Kroft are out again next week, Uzomah would be a decent, low-upside desperation play at the position in Week 17.


Houston Texans

QB Tom Savage, 64 offensive snaps, Pass: 18 - 29 - 176 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0
It was a tale of two halves for Tom Savage with his first half littered with 3-and-outs. Savage went 2 of 7 for 13 yards and it was filled with 3 sacks. Timing on his drops and some suspect pass protections, it was not a pretty sight for Savage. He had an early completion to Will Fuller for 6 yards but that is about as exciting it got for Savage. In the second half for Savage, the Texans opted to go no huddle and it naturally sped him up. Savage was much more under control and hit 16 of 22 attempts and allowed his receivers work. Savage had some drops around him specifically C.J. Fiedorowicz and DeAndre Hopkins. He had big throws and one went to Akeem Hunt for 33 yards on a simple rail route to beat an all out blitz. he worked underneath and only had five passes over 10+ yards. Fiedorowicz had key receptions for 14 and 12 and Savage tried to get Hopkins going on offense. Hopkins had a drop and two offensive pass interference calls and one wiped out a decent gain for Hopkins. Savage was not flashy but consistent late in the game for the offense and it proved to be a solid game that started slow.

RB Alfred Blue, 45 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 73 - 1, Rec: 4 - 17 - 0 (4 targets)
Alfred Blue took over the running game and like spot starts he has had over his career, he wears on a defense. Blue plugged away and had his normal 3 to 4 yard gains and rarely has a negative run. His big run came on a 24 yard run that ended up in the end zone to give the Texans the lead. Blue had some nice blocking and got a key block from DeAndre Hopkins to get him into the second level to run away from defenders. Blue remains a solid back for the Texans when he gets the opportunities and he continued to show why in a spot start.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, 64 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 43 - 0 (6 targets)
Tom Savage continues to do what he can to get Hopkins involved with the offense. Hopkins had two offensive pass interference go against him; with one coming in the end zone and another negating a 12 yard gain for pushing off. Hopkins also had a drop that hit him right in the hands across the middle which was at a critical moment. His biggest reception came on a 21 yard gain making a defender miss to set up the Alfred Blue touchdown. Hopkins remains Savageís favorite target and that should be expected to continue.

WR Will Fuller, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 39 - 0 (6 targets)
IT was a quiet day but he is getting targets with Savage and with 6 targets it was on his season average. Fuller had reception for 6 yards to open the game and had receptions for 19 and 14 late in the game. Fuller continues to have the ability to make catch and runs and on his 19 yard reception, he turned that into that long of gain from a simple 5 yard reception.

TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, 43 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 42 - 0 (7 targets)
His first game back from a concussion, Fiedorowicz took some time to get going. With two key drops early to start the game, he showed up late with receptions of 14 and 12 to keep drives going. It was a slow game for Fiedorwicz but it was clear he was not comfortable early on the field.