Texans have bad memories of Bengals’ QB

Published 11:17 pm Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Houston Texans haven’t forgotten Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Cincinnati’s starting quarterback made his NFL debut with St. Louis at Reliant Stadium on Nov. 27, 2005, replacing the injured Jamie Martin and leading the Rams back from a 21-point halftime deficit to beat the Texans 33-27 in overtime.

Fitzpatrick, a seventh-round draft pick out of Harvard earlier that year, completed 19 of 30 passes for 310 yards and three touchdowns, including the 56-yard winner to Kevin Curtis in the extra period.

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‘‘I remember that day like it was yesterday,’’ said Texans receiver Andre Johnson. ‘‘It was a feeling you definitely don’t want to feel again.’’

Fitzpatrick returns to Houston on Sunday to lead the Bengals (0-7) against the Texans (2-4) in the makeup of a game postponed last month by Hurricane Ike. He’s struggled in three starts since Carson Palmer injured his right elbow against the New York Giants on Sept. 21, throwing three interceptions and losing three fumbles.

But the Texans won’t take Fitzpatrick for granted. Not after what he did to them three years ago.

‘‘He kept completing pass after pass,’’ said linebacker Morlon Greenwood, who had two sacks in the game. ‘‘The next thing you know, we’re in overtime. It was definitely a heartbreaker for us.’’

The Rams lost Fitzpatrick’s next three starts and the 2004 Ivy League Player of the Year appeared in only two games over the next two seasons before Palmer’s injury this year.

Naturally, he’s looking forward to returning to the site of what he calls ‘‘my best moment in the league so far.’’

‘‘The first game I ever played in was there, and we ended up pulling out a victory in overtime,’’ he said. ‘‘So I definitely have some good memories, and hopefully looking forward to creating some more.’’

If only he could get the Bengals to play like the Rams did that day.

Cincinnati ranks 30th in passing (151.7 yards per game), 31st in rushing (73.9 ypg) and has given up 26 sacks, second most in the league. But the Bengals have already faced the league’s top four defenses — Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Tennessee and the New York Giants — and receiver Chad Ocho Cinco said the offense is due to have a breakout game.

‘‘At some point, it’s going to bust wide open,’’ he said. ‘‘We’ll look like the Bengals of old, just throwing it, running it, catching it. One of the things we haven’t done yet is we don’t have as many explosive plays as we usually have. I think those things are going to come.’’

The Bengals are heading to Houston with an 0-7 record for the second time. In 2002, they beat the Texans 38-3, a victory that Ocho Cinco — then Chad Johnson — guaranteed.

The trash-talking receiver hasn’t predicted a win this week, but these Bengals believe they’re better than the 2002 version that finished 2-14 under Dick LeBeau.

‘‘I honestly think we’re going to win every game,’’ said receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh. ‘‘Last week, I was like, ’Man, Pittsburgh is 4-1.’ But going into the game, I thought we’re going to beat them. That didn’t happen, but I think the same thing this week, we’re going to win. Eventually we’re going to win and hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.’’

Three weeks ago, the Texans were just as desperate for a win after blowing a 27-10 lead against Indianapolis and dropping to 0-4. But Houston beat Miami just as improbably, with Matt Schaub hitting two long passes in the final minute and running for the winning touchdown in a 29-28 victory.

Last Sunday, the Texans looked as good as they have all year in the first half, running out to a 21-0 lead and beating the Lions 28-21.

The Texans are seeking a third straight win for the first time in their seven-year history. They started 0-6 in 2005 and finished 2-14, so there’s no way they’re underestimating Cincinnati.

‘‘They kind of remind me of the Texans in some point in time,’’ said Johnson, drafted by Houston in 2003. ‘‘They’ve been in games and let games get away. We’ve been that team before. I know they’re going through some tough times, because I’ve been through the same thing they’ve been through.’’