The Bengals (8-1) were trying to make NFL history and join New England and Carolina at 9-0 - there's never been such a trio. A backup quarterback with a history of beating them got in the way.
Yates beat them twice as a rookie during the 2011 season, including a first-round playoff win that was the Texans' first-ever in the postseason. That experience helped get him through his impromptu performance on Monday night.
"It's a little nostalgic," said Yates, who went 5 of 11 for 69 yards. "I have a lot of good memories in Cincinnati."
And now, another one.
Cincinnati contained some of the NFL's top quarterbacks while getting off to the best start in club history. Yates was something else. And so was the Texans' defense, which looked awfully familiar as well.
"I feel like it's 2011," said Watt, who had one of the three sacks of Dalton. "I'm pretty excited. This is an incredible team."
And no longer an unbeaten team, thanks in large measure to Yates.
Yates ended his first drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins, who made a one-handed catch in the end zone for the game's only TD.
"I can't say enough about T.J. doing what he did," Watt said. "I think every time we come into this stadium, he should be our quarterback."
Dalton had another tough time against a Texans defense, going 21 of 37 for 187 yards with an interception and three sacks. Cincinnati's final chance slipped away when A.J. Green made a catch for what would have been a first down at the Texan 23-yard line, then was stripped of the ball by Quintin Demps with 40 seconds left.
"I had both hands on the ball and I took one off to break my fall and he ripped it out," Green said. "I was trying to break my fall.
"We'll be all right. It's tough to lose. Not everything is going to be pretty."
Yates' touchdown pass decided a lackluster game by both offenses.
The Bengals led 6-3 after a first half that was filled with penalties and missed plays. Telling statistics: The quarterbacks led their teams in rushing. Hoyer had 15 yards on one scramble, and Dalton had 30 yards on five carries.
It got more foreboding when Hoyer walked off the field to get examined for a concussion after the second series of the second half. Yates hadn't thrown a pass in a game since he was signed on Oct. 28 to replace Ryan Mallett.
Copyright 2015 by The Associated Press