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Drops, lackluster performance from Andy Dalton end Bengals' run of perfection

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Ad Pro Test Clip 188 - March 2017 (2:11)

Ad Pro Test Clip 188 - March 2017 (2:11)

CINCINNATI -- Pass the Sharpie. The Cincinnati Bengals' run of perfection is no more.

The NFL is now down to two undefeated teams with the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers.

When we look back on the Bengals' 10-6 loss to the Houston Texans, though, it will be easy to pin the Bengals' first defeat this season on quarterback Andy Dalton and credit him with another prime-time flop. Sure, he did have arguably his worst prime-time outing in about a year, but he certainly wasn't alone in the poor play offensively.

Tight end Tyler Eifert dropped three passes -- two of which could have turned into touchdowns -- and Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green fumbled the ball at the end of a fourth-down conversion. It was a reminder of the fumble he had late in the Bengals' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in last year's regular-season finale.

That defeat spelled doom for a Bengals team that went on to lose in the first round of the playoffs a week later. How will this Bengals team respond to this rare loss?

What it means: The 1972 Miami Dolphins don't have to worry about the Bengals breaking their streak. In addition to that, this loss also means the Bengals have their work cut out for them, particularly with next week's game at Arizona looming. After losing to a team with a losing record, the Bengals travel to play a third straight prime-time game and this time against a team that's 7-2.

One reason to be excited: Be encouraged by cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick's play, Bengals fans. The fourth-year defender was seemingly everywhere, picking up where he left off in his last Monday night game. It was against Denver last December on Monday night when he had two interceptions to preserve a key late-season win. While he didn't create any takeaways against Houston, he did deflect three passes, record three tackles and draw an early offensive pass interference penalty. In the first half, he and fellow corners Adam Jones and Darqueze Dennard combined to hold DeAndre Hopkins to zero catches.

One reason to panic: Cincinnati's offense ran into a serious roadblock against Houston. The unit simply couldn't move the ball. If this becomes a trend, the Bengals could be in trouble ahead of Sunday night's upcoming game at Arizona, where it will face a defense that's overall better than the Texans'. In all but one of the Bengals' first eight games, their offense amassed more than 300 yards. The one game in which the Bengals didn't have that many yards -- at Pittsburgh two weeks ago -- they were just 4 yards short. Against the Texans, Cincinnati collected 256 yards of offense. Before its final drive, the unit had gained only 36 yards in the second half. This was the first game the Bengals didn't score a touchdown.

Fantasy watch: Eifert seemed to become a must-start fantasy option after his three-touchdown performance in last week's win over the Browns. He ended up earning his owners 23 points in that game. Against a Texans defense that had struggled at times this season covering tight ends, Eifert provided his owners an abysmal two points. It appeared he had trouble getting into a rhythm with Dalton throughout the night. Near the end of the first half, Eifert dropped a crucial third-down pass that at the very least would have put the Bengals into red zone territory. It stalled out a drive that had the potential to conclude in the end zone. Instead, the Bengals settled for a field goal. At the start of the fourth quarter, a wide-open Eifert dove short of an errant Dalton pass. The tight end had just pulled free from the player covering him and would have had a relatively easy path to the end zone. Later in the quarter, he dropped another catchable pass across the middle on first down.

Ouch: As they've done for much of the year, the Bengals escaped Monday's game without any major injury issues. Only Jones provided a scare when he went down in the second quarter following a collision on a pass in the middle of the field. After lying on his back for a couple of moments as trainers rushed over, Jones was helped to the sideline, where he was diagnosed with a shoulder injury. Television cameras appeared to show him take a blow to the back of the head from the knee of another player. Jones ended up returning to the game on the next drive and finished with five tackles.