When Bengals killer Brian Hoyer went to the locker room with a head injury in the third quarter, the Houston Texans simply turned to another Bengals killer to hand the hosts their first loss of the season.
T.J. Yates came on in relief and hit DeAndre Hopkins with a 22-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to lift the Texans to a 10-6 win Monday night before 61,381 at Paul Brown Stadium.
Yates completed 5 of 11 passes for 69 yards to improve to 3-0 against the Bengals after winning starts in the regular season and playoffs in 2011.
Monday’s victory moved the Texans (4-5) into a tie with Indianapolis for first place in the AFC South, while the Bengals (8-1) saw their lead in the AFC North trimmed 2 1/2 ahead of the Steelers.
Hoyer, who improved to 3-0 in three starts against the Bengals, was 12 of 22 for 123 yards with an interception before heading the locker room.
Yates, who took over after former Cincinnati cornerback Jonathan Joseph, another Bengals killer, intercepted Andy Dalton on deep try on first down.
After Joseph’s fourth interception in his last four games against Cincinnati, Yates drove the Texans 79 yards on nine plays and Hopkins made a one-handed catch in the end zone for the game’s only touchdown.
The Houston defense held the Bengals to a pair of Mike Nugent field goals in the first half and 256 yards for the game.
Dalton drove the Bengals from their own 4 to the Houston 23 on the final drive, but A.J. Green fumbled after catching a 10-yard pass on fourth and 6, and the Texans’ Kevin Johnson recovered to seal the win.
Dalton was 22 of 38 for 197 yards and the interception. The 197 yards were a season low, as was his passer rating of 61.
The Bengals will be try to start a new winning streak Sunday night at Arizona.