Bengals 37, Texans 31

5 observations from the Texans 37-31 loss to the Bengals

Things can't get much worse for the Texans. Photo by Getty Images.

The Texans and Bengals had little to play for on Sunday, and it showed at times, especially on defense, where neither team was interested in tackling. But it was an entertaining game that came down to the wire. The sad thing is the Texans can't even beat the Bengals. Five thoughts on the Bengals 37-31 win:

1) Where have you been all season, David Johnson? The overpaid running back has been awful all year, but on Sunday, he actually looked like a Pro Bowl running back. Johnson had 12 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown, plus 3 catches for 11 yards and another touchdown. That he did it behind an injury riddled offensive line was all the more impressive. For the first time, Johnson looked like a real running back, with explosive runs. Being able to run the ball was huge for the Texans, as it kept them in the game. He won't be back next season, but he might have earned himself a shot somewhere else.

2) This guy can play for this team next year. Keion Crossen has quietly had a solid season. A special teams ace, he has been forced into coverage duty because of injuries and suspensions. He is one of the few DBs who has been solid in coverage, and did a nice job on A.J. Green. Even when he was beat, he had good coverage. Not a star by any stretch, but unlike a lot of his teammates, he belongs in the NFL. He was one of the few bright spots on a defense that made Brandon Allen look like a Hall of Famer.

3) Deshaun Watson is having a great statistical season. Watson had another good game, with 324 yards and 3 TDs on 24 of 33 passing. He was the second best quarterback on the field on Sunday, but Johnson's big day helped him out. Watson will finish with well over 4,000 passing yards, has 30 touchdowns and only six interceptions. His escapability in the pocket is amazing. But he once again turned the ball over late to end the Texans chances on a sack fumble. Despite that, his team should have a much better record. Allen was better on Sunday, but this season has been a breakout year for Watson. He just needs a lot more help. Having said that, he should not play next week. No reason to get him hurt in another meaningless game.

4) The interior defensive line needs new blood next year. The Texans will have a lot of holes to fill in the off-season, especially in the secondary. But just as glaring is the interior defensive line. They were blown off the ball many times, and run defense starts there. Maybe Ross Blacklock develops next season, but if not, the Texans need a brand new group. The defense in general is a mess, with maybe five players who are worth a damn. None are in the interior.

5) Romeo Crennel needs to be put out to pasture. He is a likeable dude, and he was thrust into a tough situation. But the defense is his baby, and it has regressed year after year. A new scheme, new thoughts and a fresh approach are imperative. It would be hard for this team to be worse. The new staff should thank Romeo for his efforts and wish him luck elsewhere.

The bottom line: This game really meant nothing, except to pad some stats. Deshaun Watson, David Johnson, Brandin Cooks and Brandon Allen did just that.

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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