Bengals Fall To 0-8 The Hard Way

The Bengals had the ball for the first 16 plays of Sunday's game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium yet still trailed. That about sums up the 2008 season for Marvin Lewis' team.

Jacoby Jones returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown three minutes into the game and quarterback Matt Schaub completed 24 of 28 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns as the Texans ran roughshod over the Bengals, 35-6, to keep Cincinnati winless through eight games this season.

The Bengals are 0-8 for the first time since 1994 when they finished 3-13. The franchise record for most consecutive losses to begin a season is 10, set by the 1993 team that also ended up 3-13.

The Bengals have been outscored 56-6 in their last five quarters of play, going back to Pittsburgh's 21-point outburst in the fourth quarter of its 38-10 win on Oct. 19.

"I haven't seen the tape," said Lewis, "so it's hard for me to sit here and get beat 35, 36 or whatever we did and sit here say we improved at anything today. That would be hard for me to… I couldn't even muster that up."

Prior to the game both quarterback Carson Palmer and Lewis denied the ESPN.com report from Friday that said Palmer was likely done for the season and faced possible Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow. Palmer was injured against the New York Giants in Week 3 and has played in just one game since with what has been termed as inflammation in the elbow. Ryan Fitzpatrick has started four of the last five games in his place.

The Bengals trailed just 14-6 at halftime but Schaub led the Texans on three consecutive touchdown drives, two of which he capped off with passes to former Bengals wide receiver Kevin Walter. Walter caught a 7-yard pass from Schaub with 9:19 left in the third quarter and then scored on a 39-yard play when cornerback Johnathan Joseph failed to reach Walter and tag him before he could get up from the ground after catching Schaub's pass.

The Bengals have been scored upon first in six of their eight games this season and they continued their first quarter end zone drought by again failing to score an offensive touchdown in the opening 15 minutes. Cincinnati has been outscored 44-13 in the first quarter this season and their lone touchdown came on a defensive score when Chinedum Ndukwe returned a fumble 15 yards against the New York Jets.

They have led for just a total of 43 minutes, 20 seconds this season and have never led in five of their eight games.

Shayne Graham provided the Bengals with their only points of the game with field goals of 43 and 32 yards. Graham had missed the previous two games with a sore groin.

Fitzpatrick completed 20 of 32 passes for 155 yards but turned the ball over three times in the second half. The Texans intercepted Fitzpatrick twice, both times in the fourth quarter after the game was out of reach, and sacked him twice. Defensive end Mario Williams forced the third Fitzpatrick turnover with one of those sacks. Fitzpatrick lost a fumble after Williams got to him in the third quarter and the Bengals holding possession at the Houston 10.

Houston came into the game tied for 31st in the NFL with a turnover differential of minus-9 but as they have been doing all season, the Bengals turned an opponent's weakness into a strength.


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