For the first time in franchise history, the Houston Texans have won a playoff game.
But there’s no time to celebrate for the Texans: After Saturday’s 31-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Texans will now play a divisional round game in Baltimore, where they lost to the Ravens 29-14 in the regular season.
Can the Texans avenge that loss and advance to the AFC Championship? They can if they play as well next Sunday as they did today. Houston got a strong game from its defense (including a phenomenal effort by defensive lineman J.J. Watt), and the offense did what we’ve come to expect the Texans’ offense to do: Arian Foster had a big game, Andre Johnson had a big game, and T.J. Yates played well enough not to lose the game.
Playing not to lose was enough for Yates in part because the Bengals at times looked like they were playing to lose, including Marvin Lewis wasting two challenges in the first half, Andy Dalton wasting a timeout on the first drive of the second half, and, as reported by Alex Flanagan on NBC, Adam “Pacman” Jones storming away from defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer when Zimmer tried to talk to him on the sideline. The Bengals didn’t keep their heads in their biggest game of the season.
Worst of all, some of the Bengals looked like they had quit late in the fourth quarter: Cornerback Nate Clements and safety Chris Crocker, in particular, should hang their heads for a complete lack of effort on Foster’s game-sealing 42-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Clements and Crocker both were in position to tackle Foster or push him out of bounds, and they barely even tried.
The Bengals will spend the offseason wondering what might have been if they had put forth a better effort at playoff time. But the Texans put on one of their best performances of the season in the biggest game in franchise history.
Now the Texans have an even bigger game against the Ravens looming.