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Bengals guarantee of first victory has Texans upset

HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans are discovering an expansion team can't seem to get any respect even when it is favored to win a game.

The Texans have ignored being underdogs in each of their first seven games, including by a whopping 19 1/2 points at Philadelphia and by 10 1/2 points at Jacksonville last week, a game they rallied to win in the closing minutes.

Perhaps the ultimate slap came when winless Cincinnati (0-7) guaranteed a victory over the Texans (2-5) Sunday -- even though the Texans are favored for the first time in their brief history and the Bengals have lost 14 of their last 16 games.

The Texans have quietly taken note.

''I was surprised, but that shows the lack of respect they have for us,'' Houston center Steve McKinney said. ''I guess they are desperate to get motivation or emotion, that's why they make guarantees.

''We aren't making any guarantees. There have been enough guarantees already.''

Texans coach Dom Capers didn't order his team to avoid the verbal battle. He just pointed to the sign above the door in the team locker room: ''Deeds not words.'' His players got the message.

''You feel disrespected every game on the field being a rookie,'' Texans quarterback David Carr said. ''After the first play, you forget all about that stuff. You're worrying where the mike and sam blitz will come from, that's all you worry about.''

Bengals coach Dick LeBeau started the talk about guarantees by saying the Bengals would win a game ''very soon.'' Wide receiver Chad Johnson picked up on that and guaranteed victory over the Texans.

''If you've got any type of love for the game right now, you want to go out and win,'' Johnson said. ''That's why I made the comment I did. We're going to win regardless.''

Despite their losing records, the Bengals and Texans have been playing better football in recent weeks. The Texans have had chances to win most of their games, but lost five in a row before holding off the Jaguars 21-19 Sunday.

That gave Houston as many victories in seven games as the Bengals have managed in their last 16. Still, the Bengals were so close to victory Sunday, when running back Corey Dillon tripped over his own blocker at Tennessee's 1 with 68 seconds to play. The Titans won 30-24.

It was a typically bumbling way to lose a game, but it's been the mark of the Bengals, the NFL's worst team over the past 12 seasons. A loss Sunday would give the Bengals an 0-8 start for the fourth time in 12 seasons -- and guarantee the 12th straight year without a winning season.

That's what LeBeau is fighting to overcome.

''I guaranteed a win in the very near future and I do think that's going to be the case,'' LeBeau said. ''We played Indianapolis hard. We did not play Pittsburgh hard and we came back last week and played Tennessee well.''

The Texans' defense held Jacksonville's Fred Taylor under 100 yards rushing and will have another challenge against Dillon.

''The last three weeks they've rushed almost 200 yards per game,'' defensive tackle Seth Payne said. ''Corey produces every week regardless of what their record is. From what I've watched, they've been very productive.''

The Bengals have been giving up lots of yards passing and that could mean a good day for the improved Houston offense.

''It's been a combination of things, it is what it is,'' Bengals linebacker Takeo Spikes said. ''It's not like we can go back and change the hands of time if we wanted to get somebody else, somebody else coaching. You want to get somebody to run the organization different, you can't do anything about that. All we can control is what we've got right here and now.''