The Houston Texans have had a year of football firsts. After locking up their first division title and their first playoff birth in team history, they just added first playoff win to this year's resume after beating the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10.
And it was a good day for Texans' with letters for their first names. Oh, and a guy named Arian.
After the Bengals had controlled the ball and seemingly moved it at will down the field in the first half, rookie defensive lineman J.J. Watt took the momentum back with an incredible interception at the line of scrimmage that he took 29 yards for a touchdown. See the video of J.J. Watt's interception here. And to put a cherry on top, Watt added a sack on the last play of the first half when Dalton was going back for a hail mary.
The first half ended with a Texans' 17-10 lead, but Houston had to feel pretty good to get pushed around and come out of the first 30 minutes with a lead. In reality, the Bengals should have had the lead at the end of the half.
But from that point on, the Texans controlled the game, holding the Bengals offense to very few yards in the second half. Bengals' quarterback Andy Dalton looked like a seasoned veteran in the first half, but looked a little lost and out of his rhythm in the second.
And what the Bengals desperately needed was a strong first drive in the second half, but instead they looked discombulated, burning a timeout, which made furious and had him screaming at the sideline.
When T.J. Yates connected on a 40-yard touchdown to Andre Johnson to put the Texans up 24-10 with 1:08 left in the third quarter, the Bengals all but fell apart.
PacMan Jones was seen arguing on the sideline with coaches and quarterback Andy Dalton threw his helmet over the bench.
The one lopsided stat of the game, that told a huge story was the success of Houston's running game against the vaunted Bengals rush defense. Arian Foster had a monster game on the ground and needing only the first three quarters to go over 100 yards.
And Dalton threw his third interception of the game when he hung up a ball with 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter, when the Bengals were desperate to get their offense going, Daneal Manning picked it off and set up a 42-yard touchdown run by Arian Foster where it looked like the Bengals defense wasn't very interested in tackling him. With the Texans up 31-10 with five minutes left, the Texans had all but sewn up team history with their first playoff victory behind a very loud and fired up home crowd.
Foster finished with 153 yards rushing.
And after the rash of injuries the Texans' have dealt with, Houston's head coach Gary Kubiak should be a front runner for coach of the year. No team has had to deal with injuries to more star players, Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and Mario Williams, just to name a few. And for him to lead that team not not only a playoff berth, but a division title and a playoff win deserves all the honors you can give Kubiak.
And not to mention, Wade Philips' genius job with the Texans defense, taking them from one of the worst in the league last year to a top 10 defense this year is a historic turnaround. His free agent pick-up of ex-Bengal coernerback Jonathan Joseph played a huge part in shutting down the Bengals' star rookie wide receiver A.J. Green.
On the flipside, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis will have to answer questions about burning all of his coaching challenges on questionable calls in the first half. WIth the Texans running away with it, it didn't really matter, but the Bengals had no challenges in the second half if they needed them. Lewis lost both of his challenges in the first half.