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NFL Game Summary - Cincinnati at Houston



(Saturday, January 7th)

Final Score: Houston 31, Cincinnati 10

Houston, TX (Sports Network) - While there were still two quarters left when defensive end J.J. Watt plucked Andy Dalton's pass out of the air and returned it for a touchdown, the play still seemed like a turning point.

And whatever chance the Bengals had of coming back, the Texans snuffed it out with a dominant second half.

Arian Foster rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns, rookie quarterback T.J. Yates passed for a score, and Houston pulled away from Cincinnati for a 31-10 victory in the first postseason game in Texans franchise history.

In a year marked by the unexpected and potential pitfalls -- from the loss of starting quarterback Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinart, to nagging injuries for star wide receiver Andre Johnson -- the Texans have put together the most successful season in the 10-year history of their franchise.

They captured the AFC South title and won 10 games for the first time in their short history, thanks in part to Yates. He helped them to the division- clinching 20-19 win in Week 14 against Cincinnati.

While Houston dropped its final three games of the regular season, it was in fine form during Saturday's dominant victory. Now the Texans are into the second round, and will face the Ravens in Baltimore next Sunday.

Houston earned Saturday's victory by dominating on both sides of the ball. While Foster powered the Texans' offense and Yates was mistake-free, their defense held Cincinnati in check.

Dalton passed for 257 yards, but was picked off three times -- a rarity for the rookie. He had thrown only 13 all season in leading the Bengals to a 9-7 record and wild card berth, including only one in the final six weeks of the season.

The Bengals fell to 0-3 in playoff games under head coach Marvin Lewis.

"I'm proud of how our guys fight and play, but I kind of told them it's my responsibility," Lewis said. "I didn't get us over the hump today."

Both teams had some success early. The Bengals got on the board midway through the first quarter thanks mostly to a 52-yard pass interference penalty, which moved the ball to the Houston 20. Dalton converted a third down with a 16-yard pass to Brian Leonard, and Cedric Benson rushed one yard across the goal line on the next play.

The Texans responded with an eight-yard TD run around the left end by Foster, and the teams traded field goals in the second quarter. Cincinnati's Mike Nugent connected on a 37-yard try with 7:09 left, and Houston's Neil Rackers made a 39-yarder with 1:48 to go.

But the game turned on the ensuing Bengals possession. Dalton had just scrambled for a 15-yard gain as the clock ran under a minute, and was looking to connect with A.J. Green.

However, Watt reached into the air and grabbed Dalton's pass. He didn't just alter the ball's path or swat it to the ground. He actually grabbed it out of the air, an impressive play both because the pass was just out of Dalton's hand and he had to stop the ball point-blank, and because he had to reach high into the air to get it.

Watt, the 11th overall pick of the 2011 draft, had been a tight end at Central Michigan before transferring to Wisconsin and becoming a defensive end. He used that pass-catching ability to make the pick, then ran 29 yards into the end zone to make it a 17-10 game with 52 seconds remaining.

"It's funny, you work all year doing it, knocking it down, and all of a sudden you hang onto one of them," said Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. "But [Watt's] been exceptional. He's played like a four- or five-year player. That was a huge play; it gave us a lot of momentum going into halftime."

The play sent the crowd into a frenzy, and Watt put an exclamation point on the first half by sacking Dalton on the final play.

The Bengals were down just seven points at that point, but never made up the ground in the second half. In five possessions, two ended in a punt, two ended in an interception, and another finished with a turnover on downs.

Moreover, their defense failed in key moments.

Late in the third quarter, Houston was still holding the one-touchdown edge and advanced into Cincinnati territory with Yates' nine-yard pass to Johnson on third down.

Two plays later, he hit Johnson with a 40-yard touchdown strike along the left sideline, after the receiver had shaken his defender free with a sharp stutter-step.

Yates was forced to become the team's starting quarterback in Week 13, after Schaub was lost for the season with a foot injury and Leinart suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

He wasn't the driving force in Saturday's win, completing 11-of-20 passes for 159 yards. But he made big throws when he needed to, including the third-down conversion and TD pass to Johnson.

Cincinnati's defense failed again late in the fourth quarter, after Danieal Manning's interception of Dalton put the ball at the Bengals' 45.

Initially, the Bengals appeared like they would force a punt, limiting Foster to a total of three yards on two consecutive rushes. But on 3rd-and-7, the running back reached the right sideline and began to sprint upfield. While good blocking allowed Foster to get to the edge of the field, a failure to tackle allowed him to reach the end zone.

About 20 yards into his run, Foster needed to slow as he encountered cornerback Kelly Jennings trying to break through a block by wide receiver Jacoby Jones. That allowed safety Chris Crocker to catch up to the play. But in a particularly embarrassing moment, Crocker ran into Foster's stiff-arm, failed to push him out of bounds, then was pushed out of the way by the running back.

Foster continued the rest of the way unimpeded to complete the 42-yard touchdown with 5:15 to go.

Game Notes

The Bengals gained 300 yards and totaled 21 first downs, but were limited to 76 yards on the ground...Dalton completed 27-of-42 passes...Foster added three receptions for 29 yards...The city of Houston was hosting a playoff game for the first time since the Oilers faced the Kansas City Chiefs at the Astrodome on Jan. 16, 1994...Cincinnati made its second playoff appearance in the last three seasons. The Bengals haven't won a playoff game since beating the Oilers in a wild card contest following the 1990 season.

01/07 21:18:14 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
Final
NYR 1
CAR 0
Final
TOR 118
NYK 108
Final
CLE 105
MEM 91
Final
MIA 100
BOS 84
Final
BRK 110
DET 105
Final
SAC 108
LAL 101
Final
ORL 88
PHI 96
Final
WAS 92
PHO 104
Final
MIN 96
IND 100
Final
OKC 99
NOP 101
Final
UVA 76
HARV 27
Final
BGU 68
FERST 82
 
Final
ARMY 72
MAINE 69
 
Final
QUIN 60
ORST 52
Final
CLST 69
USF 65
 
Final
CARK 55
CCAR 72
 
Final
UWGB 66
ARKLR 46
 
Final
RAD 74
CORN 61
 
Final
UNT 62
CREI 58
Final
CAN 67
HC 48
 
Final
USB 67
GHND 52
 
Final
OKST 64
MD 73
Final
WINT 100
REIN 72
 
Final
UGST 68
SMISS 55
Final
NEOM 77
TXPA 72
 
Final
STLU 58
VERM 55
 
Final
UNCA 62
WCU 66
 
Final
EVAN 81
ALAST 63
 
Final
HART 82
FIU 69
 
Final
VALPO 82
GOSHEN 55
 
Final
LIP 69
PEAY 63
 
Final
DEN 46
BRY 48
 
Final
MONT 62
SD 67
 
Final
MTST 65
TENST 47
Final
SAMF 64
LAMON 50
 
Final
SCAR 78
COKR 52
 
Final
HAMP 75
NARZ 66
 
Final
SDU 71
SDCHR 61
 
Final
BC 71
USC 75
Final
NICST 64
TROY 65
 
Final
BRAD 47
UCI 55
 
Final
UGA 65
SHU 47
Final
ALA 60
APP 59
Final
KSU 53
NDST 52
 
Final
WASU 82
SJST 53
Final
UTEP 78
ALCOR 45
 
2nd
SEAT 56
SACST 42
 
Final
DET 1
COL 2
Final
EDM 5
DAL 6
Final
BOS 4
BUF 3
Final
NYR 1
CAR 0
Final
CHI 4
TOR 0
3rd
WIN 3
PHI 2
 
Final
NOS 14
ATL 30
Final
HOU 25
BAL 13
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
Final
CHI 14
DET 20
Final
TAM 3
GBP 20
Final
PIT 20
KAN 12
Final
MIA 37
MIN 35
Final
NYJ 16
NEP 17
Final
STL 27
NYG 37
Final
OAK 26
BUF 24
Final
DAL 42
IND 7
4th
ARI 6
SEA 28