They got what they wanted. Ever since the Texans were drilled by the Patriots December 10, they’ve wanted another shot. Of course, they would have preferred it at home but they’ll take it nonetheless.
Last year, they crashed the divisional round with a third string QB and a smothering defense. They came within one score and several mistakes of upsetting their way into the AFC Championship game.
Now, they travel with their starting quarterback, a reenergized defense and a reignited ground game. To pull off what the ‘experts’ say will be a monumental upset, they will need to be razor sharp.
With a deafening crowd behind them, the Bulls on Parade were magnificent in the Wild Card 19-13 win over Cincinnati. J.J. Watt had a sack, broke up a couple of passes and set the tone for a sensational day as the Bengals went 0-9 on third down tries.
The area of concern that everyone is taking about is red zone efficiency. The Texans were 1-4 against the Bengals.
One of the misses was a would-be touchdown pass to Andre Johnson that both players admitted they could have handled better. Another was after two consecutive completions didn’t net enough yards to move the chain or get into the end zone. The third came after a 2nd down holding penalty pushed the ball back and a short completion on 3rd down.
Like the other ailments that healed once the playoffs arrived, the red zone issue is fixable. A team that has the ball for nearly 39 minutes is certainly capable putting it across the goal line.
Matt Schaub made a mistake that might have been a death blow as he threw a ‘pick-6’ to Leon Hall. But his team mates greeted him off the field and he was able to shake it off and throw the ball well the rest of the game. The biggest completion came late in the game on a 3rd down throw to Garrett Graham that kept Cincinnati off the field.
But offensively, the day belonged to Arian Foster and the offensive line. Earl Campbell led the team out of the tunnel. And Foster ran the ball with the determination that Houston football fans had seen from the Tyler Rose a generation earlier.
Owen Daniels put up a Texans post season-best nine receptions and Andre Johnson had a big 22 yard catch to set up the only touchdown.
For one day, it was all there again. The clock-eating offense, the stiffling defense. Now they have to take the show on the road and do it against one of the best quarterbacks ever.
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