Foster steadied the offense against the Bengals, gaining 140 yards and scoring the only offensive touchdown of the game.
As for the Bengals, Andy Dalton’s ugly performance, completing just 14 of 30 for 127 yards and an interception, was a big reason behind their struggles but could be concerning going forward, too. Dalton didn’t find A.J. Green until the third quarter, and that was a problem as Green caught five passes for 80 yards in the final 25 minutes of the game.
Now, Houston has the pleasure of heading to Foxboro next weekend for a rematch of the blowout loss to the Patriots from earlier this season.
Foster could pose some problems for the Patriots next week, but if Schaub plays anything like he did this week, missing on some simple throws, then the Patriots will have a field day with him.
Fourth Quarter, 2:23, Texans 19-13: When you go 0-for-9 on third down, you don’t deserve to win a playoff game.
Dalton played terrible and missed key throws on third downs throughout the day to forfeit this one. The Bengals fought their way into the playoffs and earned their place here, but such a dismal showing in crucial situations is exactly why they shouldn’t win this game.
Fourth Quarter, 4:43, Texans 19-13: Playoff teams need to convert on third down and the Bengals are not doing that today.
Dalton and the Bengals are 0-for-8 on third down today, which is even more amazing given that they’re only down by six points.
So, given their track record on the afternoon, there’s no better time to take a timeout than right now.
Fourth Quarter, 9:03, Texans 19-13: Everytime the Texans look like they’re pulling away, the Bengals find a way to climb back within striking distance.
Dalton connected on a few more short passes but he got the Bengals in scoring position, which was important for Josh Brown to boot the 47-yard field goal.
The question now becomes whether Cincy can hold Foster and the Texans and get the ball back with time left for the go-ahead score.
Fourth Quarter, 14:13, Texans 19-10: The Texans extended their lead thanks to their most consistent and unexpected offensive contributor.
Shayne Graham just hit his fourth field goal of the game, bringing the Houston lead to nine points and giving them a nice cushion with 14 minutes left to play.
End Third Quarter, Texans 16-10: A.J. Green was a complete enigma during that third quarter, but he’s also the Bengals’ only shot at turning the tides on this game.
Green was a ghost during the first half, but he caught three passes for 57 yards during the third quarter and was their only reliable offensive weapon in the quarter.
Dalton has looked very bad on the day, but if Green can continue to get separation at least there will be some chance at success.
Third Quarter, 3:35, Texans 16-7: Normally interceptions are the quarterback’s fault, but that pick wasn’t Dalton’s problem.
Green was wide open over the middle and Dalton slid the ball right where it should be, but an aloof Green saw the laser turn into a costly pick.
Dalton hasn’t done too much right today, but that interception shouldn’t be on his record. That was all Green’s fault, and that can’t happen in tight games like this.
Third Quarter, 7:43, Texans 16-10: Oh, so there’s A.J. Green.
Jay Gruden, who runs the Bengals’ offense, must’ve just remembered that Green was on his roster, either that or he just had the most idiotic first-half plan ever.
After seeing zero targets in the first 35 minutes, Green was targeted four times, catching three balls for 57 yards and sparking some semblance of a passing attack for Cincy. Now, they’re back within one score and may have even grabbed the momentum there.
Third Quarter, 10:35, Texans 16-7: Arian Foster is the only consistent offensive weapon playing in this game.
Foster has 99 yards on 20 carries on the afternoon, and even more importantly he finally put an offensive touchdown on the board.
The Bengals’ defense seems unable to stop the run at all, which means the Texans will just continue to jam it down their throat the rest of the way
Third Quarter, 13:25, Texans 9-7: Well, Andy Dalton doesn’t look any better to start the second half than he did in the first.
Dalton just looks lost and befuddled constantly out there, and Watt’s constant pressure off the edge isn’t helping.
The fact that A.J. Green’s seen zero — yes, that’s none — targets on the afternoon should be enough of a sign of that. Both players need to really step up soon, otherwise the Bengals will be down three scores in no time.
Halftime, Texans 9-7: Well, that was an ugly half of football.
Dalton and Schaub are both struggling with consistency, and the ground games are the only thing making these offense go.
The defensive battle this was expected to be is certainly living up to the hype. Watt has been stellar, pressuring Dalton into bad decision after bad decision, and Leon Hall has played great against Schaub and the Texans’ passing attack.
Hall gave the Bengals their only points of the half, reading Schaub’s progressions perfectly and stepping in front of his pass for the pick six. If not for Hall, this game might look a lot bleaker than the 9-7 deficit Cincy currently faces.
Now, all the Bengals need is for A.J. Green to step up on the outside and Dalton to make a few decent throws — although, I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.
Fortunately, Shayne Graham was on point on field goals, hitting all three tries, and has the Texans up 9-7 after an ugly half.
Second Quarter, 2:10, Texans 9-7: For as bad as Schaub’s been so far today, Andre Johnson has been even worse — and he just cemented that thought.
Johnson is one of the maybe top three receivers in football, along with Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall, but he just dropped a pass that no decent receiver should ever drop.
There’s no wonder the Texans haven’t score a touchdown so far, with plays like that one from Johnson they may never get into the end zone.
Second Quarter, 6:50, Bengals 7-6: Ouch, I would hate to be Ray Maualuga’s ankles right now.
Arian Foster just made Maualuga look like one of the Washington Generals trying to defend the Harlem Globetrotters.
No wonder Maualuga was on the ground there, his ankles seriously must be killing him — almost as much as his pride.
Second Quarter, 9:30, Bengals 7-6: Well that momentum turned quickly.
After some terrible passing from Dalton to start the day, Schaub’s the one who made the big error with a pick six to put the Bengals on top.
Leon Hall is a playmaker and that’s exactly what he just did on that ball. This Bengals defense will need more plays like that to keep this game close, unless the offense decides to figure things out soon.
Second Quarter, 10:20, Texans 6-0: Calling A.J. Green. Calling A.J. Green.
Green was one of the best receivers in football in 2012, but has been nothing more than a ghost so far in such a big game. Maybe the limelight’s getting to him, or Dalton’s just playing a helluva lot worse than he looked in the regular season.
Either way, Green needs to get open soon or the Bengals won’t make any progress.
Second Quarter, 13:01, Texans 6-0: And the lead continues to build.
This game doesn’t look like it’s going to be quite as close as first though, not if Dalton doesn’t figure things out at least.
As for the Texans, they’re moving the ball well, but where are the touchdowns? Let’s be serious, if you’re Cincy, you’ve got to be ecstatic that you’re only down six points after such an awful first quarter.
Shayne Graham booted his second field goal of the day, this time from 27 yards out, and is looking like he could be the only source of points on the day.
End First Quarter, Texans 3-0: The Bengals’ offense better figure it out, and fast.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis strutted off for a 29-yard jaunt early, but that’s really all the offense could manage in the first quarter.
Dalton has completed one of three passes for minus-6 yards — yes, that’s right, negative six. Green-Ellis needs to keep up the pace on the ground, but Dalton is the biggest problem with this offense so far.
First Quarter, 0:58, Texans 3-0: The NBC announcers spent some time highlighting Vontaze Burfict, and I’ve got to say that I’ve been impressed by this kid.
Not only did he not get drafted earlier this year, but literally experts thought he was a troublemaker. Oh yeah? Well, he just finished a 122-tackle season for the Bengals and is a key to their defensive success. What a great story.
First Quarter, 5:39, Texans 3-0: Oh, hello there, Mr. Watt.
It didn’t take very long for Watt to get in on the action, and Andy Dalton felt the pain to end that drive.
Watt’s pass rush could cause some serious problems for Dalton on the afternoon, which might be the difference maker for the Texans on defense.
First Quarter, 7:49, Texans 3-0: Matt Schaub finally woke up from his slumber, and the Texans’ offense is rolling.
After two consecutive disappointing performances to end the season, Schaub has hit on four of five passes and guided the Texans downfield to get on the board first.
If Schaub continues this level of precision throughout the game, then the Bengals’ secondary could be in some serious trouble. He could be the wild card — pun very much intended — for the Texans in this game.
First Quarter, 12:20: We’re getting just what we expected from this game, so far.
Two possessions and two punts, that’s how this defensive struggle started, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it continues this way.
With J. J. Watt along the defensive line for Houston and Geno Atkins pressuring the quarterback for the Bengals, don’t expect a high-scoring attack.
The Bengals haven’t allowed more than 20 points during the second half of the season, and Houston still boasts one of the top scoring defenses in the league. If I were a betting man, I’d take the under on this one.
4:25 p.m.: Are you ready for some (playoff) football? Well you better be, because it’s time to get this postseason going.
Arian Foster and the Texans are welcoming Andy Dalton and the Bengals to Houston for the first of four wild card showdowns.
The Bengals seem primed to stop Foster and the Texans’ offense, putting up one of the best defensive efforts in the league during the second half of the season. Meanwhile, Houston is on quite a slide, finishing the season 1-3 and looking primed to be upset.
There’s plenty left to be decided, but we’re ready to see just how this showdown goes down and NESN has all your coverage. So, keep with the live blog throughout the game to get all your news, notes and analysis on the Bengals and Texans.
8 a.m. ET: The Texans blew their chance at a bye with a loss last week and a 1-3 end to the regular season, and now they must face one of the hottest teams in football.
The Bengals come into Saturday having won seven of their past eight games on the strength of their defense. Behind the stellar play of Geno Atkins (12.5 sacks), Rey Malaluga (122 tackles) and rookie Vontaze Burfict (127 tackles), the Bengals have allowed just one opponent (the Cowboys) to score 20 points in their past eight games and are looking to hold the Texans below that threshold again Saturday.
First Cincinnati must deal with the dangerous tandem of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. Schaub connected with Johnson for 112 receptions and almost 1,600 yards this season. The Texans also boast a strong ground game with the powerful running of Arian Foster, who gained 1,200-plus yards for the third consecutive year. So, the Bengals will have their work cut out for them.
The Texans have a solid defense of their own, with the likes of J.J. Watt (20.5 sacks) and Kareem Jackson (four interceptions) limiting opponents’ passing games. For the Bengals, Andy Dalton finished off the season strong, and wide receiver A.J. Green’s freakish size and athleticism may cause problems for the Houston secondary.
Last season, the Texans dropped the Bengals 31-10 in embarrassing fashion inside Reliant Stadium to kick off wild card weekend. This year’s meeting is shaping up to be a much better game.
All in all, this should be a low-scoring defensive affair. The action is set to kick off at 4:30 p.m., but we’ll have news, notes and analysis all day long in preparation for this wild card showdown.
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