December 11, 2011
AFC South Division CHAMPS!
by Keith Weiland
Ten years in the making, the Houston Texans earned their first playoff appearance shortly after a thrilling come from behind 20-19 win over the Bengals. Minutes later, when the Saints defense thwarted a last second attempt by the Titans to complete their own comeback win, the Texans earned the AFC South Division title and the right to host a playoff game in January.
The Texans victory, their seventh in a row, was hardly anti-climactic. Down 16-3 at halftime and trailing 19-13 with less than three minutes in the game, rookie quarterback T.J. Yates rallied the offense for a 13-play drive culminating in a 6-yard touchdown pass to former Bengal Kevin Walter with two seconds to play.
Exhilarating relief, titillating exhaustion, and palpitating happiness. Houston's long pro football playoff drought is finally over.
Missing wide receiver Andre Johnson thanks to the hamstring injury he suffered in last week's win over the Falcons, Yates struggled in the first half to move the offense and score more than a field goal. An interception by Bengals safety Reggie Nelson resulted in three points by Cincinnati and an early 6-3 Bengal lead, followed shortly by a Ben Tate fumble on the Bengals 1-yard line.
Thankfully, Yates and the #BullsOnParade defense came out from halftime with the laces still tied on their glass slippers.
Outside linebacker Connor Barwin sacked Andy Dalton at the Bengal-22, forcing a fumble that teammate Brooks Reed recovered. Four plays later, Yates found tight end Joel Dreesen in the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown pass to narrow the deficit to 16-10.
Following a Bengals field goal, head coach Gary Kubiak made a questionable decision to go for it on fourth down that resulted in sack and fumble by Yates. The Texans would prove resilient though and later add their own field goal to set the score at 19-13 with 5:35 remaining.
The Texans defense held the Bengals on the ensuing drive, forcing their opponents to punt down to the Texans 20-yard line with 2:33 to play. From the shotgun, Yates calmly led the offense on a 13-play drive to win the game and ultimately send the franchise to its first-ever playoff berth.
At 10-3, the Texans can now set their focus on another possible franchise first: Earning home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With Yates and the #BullsOnParade defense, why the hell not?
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