Sean Pendergast

NFL Week 16 Disaster: Bengals 37, Texans 31 — Four Winners, Four Losers

Deshaun Watson couldn't muster enough magic to beat the bengals on Sunday.
Deshaun Watson couldn't muster enough magic to beat the bengals on Sunday. Photo by Eric Sauseda
I hope all of you are enjoying a wonderful holiday week. If you're a Houston Texans fan, and you can answer affirmatively that you are, indeed, having a wonderful holiday week, then there's a good chance that you skipped watching the Texans on Sunday, and this article may be the first your hearing about another cataclysmic ending to a Texans game.

Yes, for the third time in four weeks, a fumble late in the game cost the Texans any chance at a late game comeback, but this time, the opponent was not the vaunted Indianapolis Colts. This time, the opponent was the 3-10-1 Cincinnati Bengals, using a backup quarterback, and still finding a way to piece the Texans' defense for over 500 yards in total offense.

We didn't really learn anything new about the Texans — Deshaun Watson can move the ball with virtually anyone catching it, the defense couldn't stop a nosebleed, and the countdown is on for a new head coach and new GM. I suppose if we learned anything on Sunday, given the excruciating repeat of bad football fortune, it's that 2020 will not go quietly into the night.

Onto some winners and losers from yesterday....


4. David Johnson (finally)
It only took fifteen games, but Johnson finally had his first 100 yard rushing game as a Houston Texan, with 128 yards win just 12 carries. Ironically, Johnson was piling up his longest runs with the Texans down to journeyman Roderick Johnson and rookie Charlie Heck as their two tackles (as if you needed another reason to feel awful about trading two first round picks for Laremy Tunsil). With Johnson making a late season surge — he had over 100 yards RECEIVING last weekend at Indy — it's worth wondering if the next GM would consider bringing him back on a very team friendly deal. As it is right now, the Texans are on the hook for $2.1 million in 2021 for Johnson even if they cut him, so perhaps they try to extract some value from that guaranteed money rather than treating it like a sunken cost. I'm guessing most texan fans don't even want to look at Johnson anymore because he just reminds them of DeAndre Hopkins, for whom he was traded.

3. Brandin Cooks
Sunday was actually a good day for the principals of the whole Hopkins Sequence of Moves, the trade of Hopkins itself AND the subsequent acquisition of Brandin Cooks to ostensibly replace Hopkins. Cooks has started to form some nice chemistry with Watson, amd that was on full display on Sunday, with Cooks hauling in seven catches for 141 yards and a touchdown. Cooks has three years left on his deal at about $12 million per year, but NONE of it is guaranteed. He is another interesting decision for a future GM, who will have no ties to any of the moves that led to Cooks arriving in Houston.

2. The Jacksonville Jaguars
In case you missed it, fans in Jacksonville came out on Sunday to cheer AGAINST their hometown team....
Now, they weren't doing this because they hate the Jaguars. Quite the contrary, actually. They were cheering for the Jags to lose because with a loss (and a Jets win over the Browns, which happened) they would clinch the number one overall pick in the 2021 draft, which means it's Trevor Lawrence time in the 'ville, baby! That also means Texan fans get Watson versus Lawrence in the Dabo Swinney Bowl twice each season starting next year until who knows when.

1. The Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins wake up this morning, fresh off a weekend where they secured a last second win over the Raiders to move to 10-5 on the season, and sit at pole position for an AFC wild card spot. Meanwhile, they own the Texans' first and second round pics in the upcoming draft, which are both in the express lane to be among the first half dozen picks in their respective rounds. Thanks a lot, O'Brien.


4. Whichever teammates J.J. Watt is referring to in this super passionate soundbite....
J.J. Watt was asked after Sunday's game about the team regrouping and finishing the season on a positive note next week, and he gave one of the greatest soundbites in the history of postgame press conferences....
I would love to know what teammates he is specifically thinking of as he delivers this. That feels way too specific for him to be sending a message to some straw man. As an aside, however sad Watt feels about the fans, that's how sad I feel for Watt, who deserved so much better than the clown show that was Bill O'Brien the Whacky GM constructing this roster.

3. Your weekly "Texan Crappy Start" update!
For the sixth straight week, the Texans punted on their opening drive and allowed the opposition to score a touchdown on their opening drive. Tough to win games, when you're spotting a 7-0 lead to literally every team you've played over the last month and a half.

2. FOX name blunders
Did you know DeSean Jackson played for the Texans? Yeah, neither did I....
The FOX crew did this a TON throughout the broadcast, Greg Jennings in-game, and then Tony Gonzalez in the halftime studio show.

1. Effort, execution, everything....
I don't care if you're playing with two backups, five backups, or eleven backups on defense — this was an embarrassment:

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast