CINCINNATI — T.J. Yates, playing in relief of injured quarterback Brian Hoyer, tossed the game-winning touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins in the fourth quarter, and the Houston Texans handed the Cincinnati Bengals their first loss, 10-6, in a sloppy Monday night matchup at Paul Brown Stadium.
Cincinnati (8-1) couldn’t overcome numerous errors. Tight end Tyler Eifert had three key drops, and quarterback Andy Dalton struggled to find his rhythm against relentless Texans pressure.
Houston (4-5) lost Hoyer late in the third quarter because of a possible concussion. Yates came in and completed five of 11 passes for 69 yards.
Cincinnati had one last chance when it took over at its own 19-yard line with 3:54 remaining.
Dalton converted a third-and-18 on a pass to receiver A.J. Green to keep the drive alive. Then, on fourth-and-6, Green appeared to make a first-down catch, but he fumbled. The ball was recovered by Texans safety Quintin Demps.
The game featured a sloppy first half in which there were six punts, nine penalties and both quarterbacks led their teams in rushing.
The second half wasn’t much different.
Early in the third quarter, Dalton’s deep ball intended for receiver Marvin Jones was tipped and intercepted by Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph.
Joseph, a former Bengal, has intercepted Dalton in four consecutive games between the teams.
Hoyer was escorted to the locker with the Texans trailing 6-3 late in the third quarter.
Yates subsequently orchestrated a nine-play, 79-yard drive, with his 22-yard pass to Hopkins putting Houston ahead for the first time.
Hopkins managed to get two feet down inbounds while falling backwards to make the score 10-6.
Dalton had another rough night under the prime-time lights, going 22 of 38 for 197 yards and an interception.
There was a smattering of boos at one point in the fourth quarter for a team that was 8-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Punter Shane Lechler was a weapon for the Texans, helping them flip field position on several occasions. Lechler averaged 46.8 yards on eight punts, including one 64-yarder.
There were six penalties for 69 yards in the first quarter.
The Bengals were called for three penalties including a pair of false-starts on their first two possessions.
Houston was flagged twice for pass interference, once on offense, once on defense.
Off-setting holding penalties negated a long punt return by the Bengals’ Adam Jones.
After a holding penalty erased his 32-yard field goal, Mike Nugent made good on the 42-yarder to put Cincinnati ahead 3-0.
Hoyer and the Texans offense found a rhythm during a 74-yard drive in the second quarter. They had second-and-goal at the 1-yard line but settled for Nick Novak’s 27-yard field goal to tie the score 3-3.
Penalties aside, both defenses played inspired in the first half.
At one point in the second quarter, Hoyer and Dalton were the leading rushers.
After Eifert dropped a third-down pass, Nugent’s 39-yard field goal put the Bengals ahead 6-3.