Halftime: Bengals deliver big-time drive

CINCINNATI -- The Bengals took a 16-3 halftime lead on the Houston Texans on the strength of their best drive of the season.

After linebacker Rey Maualuga forced a fumble on a goal-line stand, the Bengals drove 97 yards on 15 plays, a marathon second-quarter drive that was capped by Andy Dalton's 17-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Simpson.

The 7 minute, 45-second drive featured three third-down conversions and one on fourth down. It ended with a third-down throw from Dalton, who was about to get hit by J.J. Watt, to Simpson, who held onto the ball after taking a hit by Texans safety Daniel Manning.

Here are other thoughts at halftime:

  • The Bengals defense gave up some yards, but stepped up in timely fashion. Cincinnati forced two turnovers, including one at its own goal line, and held strong on its final series in the first half. After Houston had driven into Cincinnati territory in the final minute of the first half, the Bengals sacked T.J. Yates, which proved to be big. Neil Rackers was then wide right on a 47-yard field goal.

  • Bengals running back Cedric Benson showed good vision in the first half to hit the open lanes, gaining 92 yards in the first half on 13 carries. He had his longest run of the season (42 yards), which led to the field goal that tied the game at 3 in the first quarter.

  • The Bengals didn't play conservative at the end of the first half, and it paid off for them. After getting the ball at their own 37 with 30 seconds remaining, Cincinnati could have taken a knee and went into halftime with a 10-point lead. Instead, Dalton completed a 22-yard shovel pass to Andrew Hawkins on the first play and got into field goal range with a 10-yard toss to Jermaine Gresham. Mike Nugent's 49-yard field goal with six seconds left in the first half gives Cincinnati a 13-point cushion.