A.J. Green is a very bad man. And he knows it.
The Cincinnati Bengals Pro Bowl receiver tore into the Houston Texans' secondary — and Romeo Crennel's puzzling strategy (which one assumes was Bill O'Brien approved) — in the middle of a key game in the AFC playoff race.
The Texans tried to cover one of the best receivers in pro football with A.J. Bouye, a former undrafted free agent cornerback. Colossal mistake. Game shifting mistake.
Green didn't just catch pass after pass after pass against Bouye. He seemed to punctuate every one by screaming at the Texans bench about how messed up this gameplan was.
Living in mortal fear of getting beat deep only means the Texans are getting beat short — over and over and over again.
"You better get somebody else on me!" Green is caught yelling on video.
Apparently, Green doesn't want to make a mockery of any chase at Terrell Owen's all-time NFL record for catches in a game (20). Don't laugh. With nine catches in the first half, Green is not far off that pace. And he could have had more. When O'Brien finally replaced Bouye with the equally credential-light Darryl Morris, Green caught a fourth-and-goal pass out of bounds on a fade route.
Most of Green's catches have been relatively short grabs with neither Bouye or Morris daring to play anything even resembling tight coverage on the 6-foot-4, 207-pound game breaker. Living in mortal fear of getting beat deep only means the Texans are getting beat short — over and over and over again.
Green's dominance allows Andy Dalton, Katy's own much knocked redheaded quarterback, to flirt with the happy Houston homecoming he's sought since that J.J. Watt Swat Game. Dalton completes 13 of his first 14 passes and ends the half with a nifty 16-for-18, 151-yard, one-touchdown line.
As the Texans went into halftime trailing 9-3 in a crucial game for their playoff chances, one question hung over the open-roofed NRG Stadium.
Why wasn't Johnathan Joseph covering A.J. Green?
Putting the Texans best cornerback on the Bengals best receiver would seem to be one of the easiest decisions the Texans coaching staff could make. Especially when you consider Joseph held Green under control in playoff games past.
Green sure seemed to think so too. You have to appreciate a guy who tries to trash talk himself into facing tougher coverage.
Of course, Green probably regretted the decision later. For Joseph got his chance to cover the Bengals top gun in the second half. And he turned it into another Texas nightmare for Dalton.
Jumping one of Green's short curl routes at the perfect time, Joseph picked off Dalton and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, Joseph flipped the game. For a while. Another Dalton Pick-6 in Houston didn't just pull the Texans within 16-10, giving O'Brien's team new life.
It seemed to shake Dalton as well. For a moment.