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01/05/2013 10:14 PM EST
Houston beats Bengals 19-13 in wild-card playoff
HOUSTON 19, CINCINNATI 13

By KRISTIE RIEKEN
AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON (AP) -- J.J. Watt swatted away passes, Arian Foster ran
away from tacklers and the Houston Texans did just enough to
knock Cincinnati out of the playoffs for the second straight
year.



Matt Schaub made his first postseason start a successful one
when Foster's 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter helped the
Texans to a 19-13 AFC wild-card win over the Bengals on
Saturday.



"The whole stadium knew we had to line up and run the ball and
boy, he was at his best there at the end," coach Gary Kubiak
said. "He's become a fine, fine player, and it just seems like
the bigger it gets, the better Arian gets."



Now comes the big test. The Texans (13-4) move on to the second
round on Jan. 13, when they visit the New England Patriots, who
beat them 42-14 in Week 14. This time they're 9 1/2-point
underdogs.



"It's one step," Watt said of the win. "We know what it means,
and we have bigger goals than that."



He's glad the team got back on track this week, but knows
Houston will have to play better to beat the Patriots.



"They know what they're doing in the playoffs," Watt said.
"They've been here many times before. They know what it takes,
so it's going to take everything we have and we're really
excited about the challenge."



Foster said he isn't planning to watch too much film of
Houston's loss to the Patriots.



"They're a new team, we're a new team," Foster said. "Anytime
you play a team twice in a season ... you have to attack it
differently. It's a different mentality. Different things are at
stake."



Shayne Graham kicked four field goals for the Texans, while
Foster finished with 140 yards and became the first NFL player
to have 100-yard games in each of his first three playoff games.



Watt finished with a sack and swatted away two of Andy Dalton's
pass attempts, once wagging his finger at the Bengals
quarterback after the play.



"I think it was a full defensive effort, everybody was flying
around and we were getting off the field on third downs," Watt
said.



The Texans defense smothered Dalton and the Bengals early. Their
second drive ended when Connor Barwin tackled BenJarvus
Green-Ellis for a 6-yard loss and Watt followed with a sack of
Dalton.



Houston's offense had the ball for almost 39 minutes as it ate
up the clock with a season-high 32 carries from Foster.



"We controlled the line of scrimmage, and any time we do that
it's going to be hard to beat us," Foster said.



The Texans had trouble finishing drives and managed three field
goals in the first half against the Bengals (10-7). Houston
struck first after the break, with Foster scoring the game's
only offensive touchdown to make it 16-7.



Schaub, who missed last year's playoffs with a foot injury, had
an interception returned for a touchdown by Leon Hall before
halftime.



"It was never easy," Schaub said. "Cincinnati is a great team. I
made a turnover and gave them points. We just had to rally
around each other and we did that."



Johnathan Joseph, a former Bengal, came up with an interception
for the Texans, who kept Cincinnati without a playoff win since
the 1990 season, the league's longest current streak.



Houston had struggled on third downs lately. This time, the
Texans didn't let the Bengals convert a third down on nine
tries.



The Texans rebounded from a terrible month where they lost three
of four games and the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The win
came in front of a record crowd of 71,738, including former
Oilers great Earl Campbell.



The Bengals couldn't do anything offensively before the break,
and were outgained 250-53 in the first half. Dalton was 4 of 10
for 3 yards in the first half.



Schaub shook off his first-half miscue to finish 29 of 38 for
262 yards, and Dalton finished 14 of 30 for 127 yards.



The Bengals had a chance for a touchdown late in the fourth
quarter, but Dalton's pass sailed just out of reach of a diving
A.J. Green in the end zone.



"The offense didn't play as well as it could have," Dalton said.
"You can always look back and say, `What if?"'



Dalton's 45-yard pass to Green got Cincinnati moving in the
third quarter and set up Josh Brown's 34-yard field goal. When
Dalton tried to go to Green again, Joseph intercepted and got
the Texans in scoring range again as the quarter ended.



In last year's playoffs, the Texans routed the Bengals 31-10,
with Dalton throwing three interceptions.



The main difference in this one: Schaub was back in charge for
Houston. Rookie T.J. Yates filled in for Schaub, got the Texans
a win in their first playoff game, but couldn't take them any
further.



On their second possession, Schaub completed an 18-yard pass,
Foster had a 17-yard run and Keshawn Martin went 16 yards on a
reverse, setting up Graham's field goal.



It became a pattern - move the ball down the field, settle for
three points. The fans started booing.



And then Schaub did the one thing he wanted to avoid - he let
Cincinnati's defense get its hands on the ball. Hall anticipated
Schaub's throw, stepped in front and returned it untouched,
high-stepping the last few yards, for the defense's fourth
touchdown in the last four games.



Hall also ran back an interception 17 yards for the only Bengals
touchdown in a 13-10 win over Pittsburgh that clinched a playoff
spot. It was the first interception return for a touchdown
against the Texans this season.



Like the Texans, the Bengals ended the season by hitting a wall
on offense - one touchdown in the last two games. The offensive
woes continued on Saturday when the Bengals failed to score a
touchdown on offense again.



NOTES: Houston's 420 yards were the most given up by the Bengals
in their last 10 games. ... Houston receiver Andre Johnson had
four receptions for 62 yards to extend his streak of consecutive
games with a reception to 99. ... Texans' LB Cameron Collins
made his NFL debut on Saturday after being signed from the
practice squad a day earlier. ... R&B star Brian McKnight sang
the national anthem.



---



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