Sunday, December 11, 2011
Wrap-up: Texans 20, Bengals 19
By Paul Kuharsky
Thoughts on the Texans’ 20-19 win over the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium:
What it means: The first division title, the first playoff berth and the first home playoff game for a franchise that debuted in 2002. It also should mean long-term job security for Gary Kubiak and his staff. A team that’s shown great resilience all season long fought back and won on the final play from scrimmage, as rookie quarterback T.J. Yates hit Kevin Walter over the middle for a touchdown with two seconds left. That got the Texans to 10-3. They had to wait a little while, until Jake Locker was sacked on the last play of the game between the Titans and Saints, to know Tennessee lost and the division crown belonged to Houston.
What I liked: Yates threw a bad pick to Reggie Nelson. Yates, Ben Tate and Arian Foster each lost a fumble. And the Texans gave up a 14-yard gain on a third-and-15 shovel pass (although the Bengals then false-started on the fourth down). The Texans were down nine points in the third quarter. But even after all that, as has become their MO, there was no panic. They got a giant forced fumble from Connor Barwin that was recovered by Brooks Reed, a fantastic 17-yard run from Yates on a third-and-15 and a favorable pass interference call against Adam Jones during the comeback.
Rookie quarterback watch: The Texans said they wouldn’t be scaling back for Yates, and they didn’t -- he threw 44 passes, connecting on 26 for 300 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Yates got the win and posted an 85.4 passer rating, outperforming Cincinnati’s rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, who’s been a starter since the season began and had 189 yards and one TD. Yates absorbed five sacks along the way and was helped by 144 rushing yards.
What I want to know: What exactly Kubiak told this team after clinching the division and how he intends to pull everyone back to Earth after 24 hours pass.
What’s next: The Texans host the Carolina Panthers at Reliant Stadium on Sunday, then have a quick turnaround for a game against the Colts in Indianapolis on Thursday Night Football Dec. 22.