NFL

Sat, Jan 7, 2012 - 4:30 PM ET
Game Recap
 

Texans roll in team's playoff debut

Willie McGinest and Curtis Conway break down the game.
Willie McGinest and Curtis Conway break down the game.
Share This Story

   
 

HOUSTON (AP)

Andre Johnson hugged his coach at the end of Houston's first playoff victory - a moment a decade in the making.

''It was a lot of fun,'' the Texans star receiver said. ''This is something not just for me, but for the whole organization. It's special for me, because I said on the day I was drafted here (in 2003) that I wanted to be a part of that.''

Johnson has been the face of this 10-year old franchise, and he scored on a 40-yard pass that powered the Texans to a 31-10 victory over the bumbling Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday in an AFC playoff game.

''It's a very special feeling,'' Johnson said. ''That's probably the most I've smiled in a long time.''

Johnson had plenty of help, too, from rookies J.J. Watt and T.J. Yates to running back Arian Foster's two touchdowns and 153 yards.

Watt came through with a leaping interception return for a touchdown late in the first half, Yates threw a pinpoint pass to Johnson in the third quarter and Foster followed with his second touchdown - a 42-yard run in the fourth quarter - to finish off the Bengals (9-8).

Houston will play at Baltimore (12-4) next Sunday, a rematch of a regular-season game won by the Ravens.

DAY WON

Forget first win of the 2011-12 postseason. Saturday saw the Texans' first playoff win . . . ever. Bill Reiter analyzes what making history means for the future.

''I'm just very proud of all the guys, and the job they did,'' Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. ''Hopefully, there are some more to come.''

The Bengals were in the playoffs for the third time in seven seasons, but haven't advanced since beating the Houston Oilers following the 1990 season. They were done in this time by mistakes and a lack of pass protection.

Watt returned the first of rookie Andy Dalton's three interceptions 29 yards for a score that broke a 10-all tie with 52 seconds left in the half. It sent the full house of 71,725 fans at Reliant Stadium into a tizzy, and the Ravens into the locker room with all the momentum.

Dalton was 24 of 42 for 257 yards, while Yates was 11 of 20 for 159 yards in the first playoff game in the Super Bowl era matching two rookie quarterbacks. Foster scored on an 8-yard run in the first quarter.

The Texans' second-ranked defense had its best performance in several weeks, sacking Dalton four times. Houston also forced four turnovers.

FIRST FIGHT

The Texans made a statement by beating the Bengals for their first playoff win. VIEW PHOTOS

''We got back to our type of football,'' Kubiak said, ''and that was the key.''

Houston used six draft picks on defensive players. The Texans took Watt with the 11th overall pick, a cornerstone for the reconstruction of the defense. He started all 16 games and led the team with 13 tackles for loss.

But he'd never picked off a pass.

Watt saw this one coming, measuring his jump when Dalton dropped back and snatching the ball with both hands. He sprinted to the end zone as the capacity crowd erupted, and he raised both hands after reaching the end zone.

''I was really just trying to put my hands up and get in the way of the passing lane,'' the 6-foot-5 Watt said. ''It happened to kind of stick. I realized I had the ball so I just ran to the end zone just trying not to fall down.''

ROAD TO INDY

The Giants and Patriots will kick off Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m. ET in Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI. Want more info?

Watt became the sixth defensive linemen to return an interception for a touchdown in postseason history - excluding the Super Bowl - and the first rookie to do it.

''It changed the momentum of the game,'' Houston linebacker Brian Cushing said.

Dalton rolled his eyes and shook his head as he walked to the Cincinnati bench and watched the replay on the giant scoreboard. It was just his second interception in his last seven games.

''We feel like we have a bright future,'' Dalton said. ''It's still unfortunate that it ended this way.''

The Bengals outplayed the Texans for most of the first half before that, holding down Houston's offense and controlling time of possession.

Late in the third quarter, Yates got away with a pass that safety Chris Crocker simply dropped. Three plays later, Johnson broke free from cornerback Adam ''Pacman'' Jones and caught Yates' pass down the sideline to put Houston up 24-10.

STARGAZING

Everybody loves the NFL, even celebrities. See A-list actors and recording artists on the sidelines.

As Johnson rested on the bench, Foster walked up to him and gave him a bow, the running back's customary celebration after a touchdown. Foster has said that the bow is a Hindu gesture of respect.

The Texans rallied past the Bengals on Dec. 11 in Cincinnati to earn their first playoff berth. But they didn't look like they'd last very long after dropping their last three regular-season games.

Johnson said the losing streak proved to be beneficial.

''Everybody was riding high, the city was going crazy, we were in the playoffs for the first time,'' Johnson said. ''Over those last three weeks, that brought us back down to reality and let us know what we needed to do.''

Notes:(at) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell chatted with fans and posed for photographs on the field about 30 minutes before kickoff. ... Actor Dennis Quaid, a Houston native, wore a blue DeMeco Ryans jersey as he mingled on the sideline before the game. Quaid shook hands with former Oilers coach Bum Phillips, who wore his trademark cowboy hat, a black shirt and blue jeans. The 88-year-old Phillips led the Texans out of their tunnel and tipped his hat to the cheering fans.... The announced attendance was 71,725, a Reliant Stadium record for any event.

Tagged: Bengals, Texans, Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, J.J. Watt, Andy Dalton, T.J. Yates

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by


NFL Videos

Best Person in Sports: Keenan Lewis Posted: Jul 15, 2014
Saints CB Keenan Lewis hosts a back-to-school event, giving children medical ser...

NFL Roundtable: New York Jets Posted: Jul 14, 2014
They're a team with plenty to prove and a roster of players primed to get it don...

NFL Roundtable: Detroit Lions Posted: Jul 11, 2014
A team with so many weapons, is this the season that the Lions put together and ...

More Than Sports on MSN