Texans tame Bengals in playoff opener

Sat Jan 5, 2013 10:12pm EST
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(Reuters) - The Houston Texans used a stifling defensive performance to snap a late-season skid and defeat the visiting Cincinnati Bengals 19-13 in a wild-card game that kicked off the National Football League postseason.

Houston, who squandered a first-round bye opportunity after dropping three of their last four regular season games, stopped the Bengals attack cold and used a blend of the run and pass to dominate the game.

"I watched us go through difficult times. It's been a gut check for this organization the past month," Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. "I'm very proud of them."

Running back Arian Foster ran for 140 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Matt Schaub completed 29-of-38 passes for 261 yards as Houston reprised their first-round success last year over Cincinnati, who have gone 22 years without a playoff win.

With the victory, the AFC South champion Texans earned a second-round road showdown on January 13 against the AFC East-winning New England Patriots, who pounded them 42-14 last month.

Houston controlled the ball on offense for nearly two thirds of Saturday's game but had trouble finding the end zone and settled for field goals that allowed Cincinnati to stay close.

The Texans kicked four field goals and the Bengals booted a pair under the domed roof at Reliant Stadium.

The Bengals, held to minus-six yards in the passing game over the first 30 minutes, trailed 9-7 at halftime thanks to a 21-yard interception return for a touchdown by Leon Hall, who cut in front of James Casey along the sideline to snare Schaub's pass and run unimpeded to the end zone.

Foster, who also caught eight passes for 34 yards, bulled in from one yard out on Houston's first possession of the second half to give the Texans a 16-7 lead with the only touchdown the winners would score.   Continued...

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Brandon Tate makes a catch in front of Houston Texans cornerback Alan Ball during the third quarter of their NFL AFC wildcard playoff football game in Houston, Texas January 5, 2013. REUTERS/Tim Sharp