Texans Big Plays The Difference In First Ever Playoff Win
Posted on 1/8/2012 1:47:57 AM
The Texans defense adopted the nickname “Bulls on Parade” to celebrate the incredible turnaround they’ve made on that side of the ball, but on Saturday in the team’s first ever playoff game, it was standout running back Arian Foster who paraded all over the Bengal defense, keying a 31-10 win and setting up a rematch with Baltimore next week.
After an ugly three game losing streak that included losses to Carolina and Indianapolis heading into the postseason, Houston Head Coach Gary Kubiak was pleased to see the Texan team that won seven in row show up on Saturday as opposed to the team that dropped three straight.
“I was really proud of our team, we played the kind of football we played when we were winning, and that’s what we were after,” said Kubiak, a Houston native. “I told the guys we needed to go through our last three weeks, and I didn’t mean the losses, but to be humble from the standpoint of what we can’t get away with if we’re going to win this month. And it really helped us, because we played error-free football today.”
Foster, who emerged on the scene last year with a 1616 yard campaign and another 1224 this season after starting the season with a bad hamstring, became only the third undrafted running back in NFL history to rush for more than 100 yards in a game as he sliced up the Cincinnati defense to the tune of 153 yards on 24 carries and reaching paydirt twice.
“I’m just elated, happy and excited about today,” said Foster, who added another 29 yards receiving, “I’ve got to give credit to my offensive line, they’ve dominated since I’ve been here and they did again today.”
The Texans, who seized control of the game just before halftime following what is sure to be one of the best defensive plays of the playoffs, a 29-yard pick six from rookie sensation JJ Watt, used a workmanlike performance from rookie TJ Yates and the assault from Foster to slowly pull away from the Bengals in the second half.
Yates, who wasn’t spectacular, made enough plays to keep the Bengals secondary honest, and even when the Bengals were in position to make plays, they didn’t. That included a huge dropped interception by Chris Crocker in the third quarter on a pass intended for Owen Daniels. After the dropped pick, Yates found a wide-open Andre Johnson three plays later for a 40-yard touchdown pass after he put a move on Adam “Pacman” Jones that buckled his knees, and Johnson trotted into the endzone untouched, pushing the Texan lead to 24-10.
Johnson, who at times showed less than spectacular hands, dropping two passes Texan fans are accustomed to him catching, still finished the night with five receptions for 90 yards and the touchdown to lead all receivers.
Johnson, a Texan since 2003 and widely regarded as one of the best pass catchers in the league, said the team that showed up Saturday was the real Houston Texans team and not the one that stumbled into the playoffs. “Losing those three games, that really brought us back down to earth,” said the Miami product.
But it was the interception by Watt just before the half that swung the tide of the game, as the Texans defense clamped down in the second half, holding the Bengals to 144 second half yards and more importantly, holding them to a mere 2 of 6 on third down conversions after they converted 4 of 7 in the first half.
“It was a tremendous environment out there today,” said Texan linebacker Brian Cushing, who finished with game-high eight tackles, including one tackle for loss. “I think after J.J. (Watt’s) interception, that got to him a little bit and we just kept putting on pressure.”
As for Watt’s incredible interception, every single player that spoke in the post-game press conference was nonchalant about the play, saying that Watt does that all the time in practice and it was only a matter of time before the 6-5, 288-lb. rookie out of Wisconsin did it in a game.
“He practices it, and he’s just real fanatical about getting his hands up,” Cushing said.
Watt, a gentle giant of a man, wearing a tan sweater and light blue jeans in his press conference, said of the play that ultimately changed the game’s dynamic, “I was really trying to put my hands up and get in the way of the passing lane, and it happened to kind of fit, and I realized I had the ball, so I was running to the endzone not trying to fall down. And that was it, I scored, I got mobbed by my teammates, and the stadium went absolutely nuts.”
Next up for the Texans is a return trip to Baltimore, who beat the Texans in Baltimore in week 6, 29-14. The Texans were woeful on offense that day, with Foster gaining a mere 49 yards on the ground while Matt Schaub threw for 220 and the defense was equally as poor, giving up 402 total yards to the Ravens that day.
Kubiak said he wanted to enjoy the win over Cincinnati for one night before moving on to game-planning for Baltimore, but said “I know what to expect” when it comes to playing playoff football against the Ravens. Before departing from the press conference, when asked to reflect on what winning the Texans first ever playoff game meant to him, Kubiak who grew up “right down the road (from Reliant) in the Heights,” paused for a moment.
“It’s a special day,” he said, “I was sitting in my office all day today leading up to the game, and looking outside, thinking ‘Holy, the Texans are in a playoff game.’ It felt good. I’m just very proud of all the guys and the job they did and hopefully there are some more to come.”
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