The Houston Texans advanced to the second round of the NFL playoffs with a 19-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals to open the NFL's Wild Card Weekend.
As expected, this game was a physical slugfest from the outset, as both offenses struggled to score in the first half.
The Texans were able to move the ball consistently, but couldn't find ways to execute once in enemy territory and had to settle for three first-half field goals from former Bengals kicker Shayne Graham.
Unlike Houston, the Bengals offense struggled to even get the ball moving against the stout Texans defense, finishing the first half with minus-six passing yards and didn't target playmaker A.J. Green once. An interception return for a touchdown from cornerback Leon Hall would put the Bengals on the scoreboard.
The second half would turn out to be a bit more eventful, as both offenses found a little more success. The Texans opened things up and scored early in the second half with a one-yard touchdown run by none other than Arian Foster.
The Bengals would ultimately include A.J. Green in the offense as Andy Dalton and company finally made some headway, but it turned out to be too little too late. The Texans defense held them to just one field goal in both the third and fourth quarter.
Green's five receptions and 80 yards would put the Bengals in a position to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, but Dalton's pass to Marvin Jones on 4th-and-11 would come up short. Foster and the Texans would run the remainder of the clock out as the Texans avoided the upset.
NFL.com's Ian Rapoport reacts to Leon Hall's early touchdown off of an interception.
Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 5, 2013
ESPN Stats & Info sheds a little light on how historically ineffective the Bengals passing game was in the first half and offers a potential explanation.
Bengals have -6 pass yds in 1st half, fewest 1st-half pass yds in a postseason game since Chiefs had -8 vs Colts in 2006 Wild Card Playoffs.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 5, 2013
A.J. Green had 0 targets in the 1st half for the 1st time in his career.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 5, 2013
Rich Eisen commented on what could best be described as a wacky first half.
Halftime: 3 Dalton passing yards. Zero AJ Green targets. 2 point Texans lead. Go figure.— Rich Eisen (@richeisen) January 5, 2013
Ultimately, Arian Foster was the difference, and ESPN Stats & Info once again had an interesting tidbit on the excellence of Foster in the postseason.
Arian Foster is the 1st player in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards in each of his 1st 3 career playoff games (from Elias).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 6, 2013
With the win, the Texans will travel to New England to take on the Patriots. The Texans lost to the Patriots 42-14 in Week 14.