Texans 20

(10-3, 5-2 away)

Bengals 19

(7-6, 3-3 home)

Coverage: CBS

1:00 PM ET, December 11, 2011

Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH 

1 2 3 4 T
HOU 3 0 7 1020
CIN 6 10 3 019

Top Performers

Passing: T. Yates (HOU) - 300 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: C. Benson (CIN) - 21 CAR, 91 YDS

Receiving: O. Daniels (HOU) - 7 REC, 100 YDS

Texans rally past Bengals for first ever playoff berth

Associated Press

CINCINNATI -- Eighty yards to cover, little more than 2 minutes left, no timeouts to help. Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates faced his biggest challenge as he lined up for the snap.

With savvy and a scramble, he pulled it off.

Yates led the biggest drive in Texans history on Sunday, one that put them in the end zone and the playoffs. He threw a 6-yard touchdown pass with 2 seconds left for a 20-19 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals that sent the expansion team into the playoffs for the first time.

"It's pretty crazy," Yates said. "A lot of people in this organization have waited a long time for this. This is a special day for this team and this organization."

In the span of a few wild minutes, everything broke their way.

With their seventh straight win, the Texans (10-3) moved to the threshold of the playoffs. They hugged on the field then headed to the locker room, where they huddled around a television set and watched the final minutes of Tennessee's game play out.

They needed a Titans loss to clinch the AFC South.

When time ran out on the Titans, preserving New Orleans' 22-17 victory, the Texans screamed, hugged, and donned black championship caps and white T-shirts. Injured receiver Andre Johnson, who didn't play because of a strained hamstring, got a game ball for his part in turning the team into a winner.

"Words really can't describe it," Johnson said. "It's something I've been waiting for for a long time."

Since their inaugural season in 2002, the Texans have been little more than a tease. They'd come close to reaching the playoffs, only to fade and fumble in the big games. They couldn't quite get that breakthrough win.

An unlikely rookie took them the last step.

Yates, a fifth-round draft pick, got his chance when Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart suffered season-ending injuries in consecutive weeks. Making only his second start, Yates led the Texans on their biggest comeback of the season.

With everything on the line for both teams, the Bengals (7-6) couldn't stop him.

"A rookie quarterback beat us today," safety Chris Crocker said. "He did it with both his arm and his feet. I don't even know what to say. Wow."

Wow, indeed.

Yates scrambled 17 yards on third-and-15 to keep the drive going. A pass interference penalty on Adam "Pacman" Jones put the ball at the 6-yard line with 12 seconds left. After an incompletion, Walter lined up wide right, cut to the middle of the field and was uncovered at the goal line.

Offensive tackle Duane Brown ran to Yates and repeatedly slapped his helmet in celebration.

The kid had come through when it mattered most.

"Hey, we're champs!" receiver Jacoby Jones said. "All my years I've been playing, I've never been on a team that got over the hump."

Only 41,202 fans -- the second-smallest crowd in Paul Brown Stadium history -- showed up to watch the Bengals turn themselves into a long shot for the playoffs. They'd lost three of their last four, including a 35-7 drubbing in Pittsburgh last week that essentially eliminated them from the AFC North race.

Now, they're going to need help getting the final wild card berth.

"As far as the team goes, they are very disappointed and I'm going to have to pump some air in them," coach Marvin Lewis said. "Before this game, we controlled our own destiny, and now I can't tell you what is going to happen."

The Texans have kept winning while losing quarterbacks. They took the final step into the playoffs without Johnson, who was inactive Sunday because of a strained left hamstring.

Yates and a solid defense pulled them through. Yates went 26 of 44 for 300 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and five sacks.

Houston's defense was the stingiest in the AFC, and came through after the Texans fell behind 16-3 at halftime. Andy Dalton was sacked and fumbled, setting up Yates' 6-yard touchdown pass that got the Texans some momentum early in the third quarter.

"It did not look like we had any chance of getting out of here with a win," coach Gary Kubiak said. "But we have a young quarterback who believes in what he's doing."

Game notes

The Bengals managed 81 yards in the second half. Cedric Benson carried eight times and lost a yard overall in the half. ... Houston had one sack, leaving it one shy of the club record of 37 in 2005. ... Cincinnati's Mike Nugent kicked field goals of 22, 47, 49 and 28 yards. ... RG Bobbie Williams hurt his right ankle in the second quarter and didn't return. ... The crowd was smaller than one of the University of Cincinnati's two games at Paul Brown Stadium this season. The Bearcats drew 48,152 fans for a game against West Virginia on Nov. 12. Their game against Louisville on Oct. 15 drew 40,971.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs2516
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from Penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays7758
Total Yards412285
Yards per play5.44.9
Total Drives1210
Comp - Att
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks - Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-41-3
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

houFG09:51Neil Rackers 46 Yd 30
cinFG04:54Mike Nugent 22 Yd 33
cinFG02:31Mike Nugent 47 Yd 36
cinTD03:02Jerome Simpson 17 Yd Pass From Andy Dalton (Mike Nugent Kick) 313
cinFG00:06Mike Nugent 49 Yd 316
houTD12:27Joel Dreessen 6 Yd Pass From T.J. Yates (Neil Rackers Kick) 1016
cinFG02:07Mike Nugent 28 Yd 1019
houFG05:31Neil Rackers 33 Yd 1319
houTD00:02Kevin Walter 6 Yd Pass From T.J. Yates (Neil Rackers Kick) 2019

Research Notes

The Texans rallied on the road from a 9-point deficit at the end of three quarters to win. It's the 2nd time in the Texans 10-season history that they rallied to win on the road in a game in which they trailed by at least nine points after three quarters. The only previous instance took place against the Redskins, a rally from a 10-point deficit after three quarters, last season.
The Texans rallied on the road from a 9-point deficit at the end of three quarters to win. It's the 2nd time in the Texans 10-season history that they rallied to win on the road in a game in which they trailed by at least nine points after three quarters. The only previous instance took place against the Redskins, a rally from a 10-point deficit after three quarters, last season.
NEXT LEVEL: Rookie QB T.J. Yates led the Texans on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a game-winning touchdown pass to Kevin Walter with 0:02 remaining against the Bengals on Sunday. Over 70 percent of Yates' attempts went to targets within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage during the game including 8 of his 12 attempts on the Texans' final drive.

ESPN Stats & Information