HOUSTON Rookies grow, rookies learn.
Andy Dalton learned a lot about playoff intensity and the importance of every play Saturday in the Cincinnati Bengals' 31-10 wild card loss in Reliant Stadium. In the playoffs, one quick pass can change the momentum of a game.
That's exactly what happened to Dalton in his first playoff game. He and the Cincinnati Bengals had gotten off to a good start against Houston. Late in the half, the Bengals were on a two-minute drill and Dalton had completed 11 of his previous 13 passes. The score was tied at 10, but it felt like advantage Cincinnati when he dropped back to pass from his 34 with 59 seconds left in the first half.
"I saw quarters," Dalton said of the coverage Houston was playing.
So he went to his assigned pass.
"I threw it outside," Dalton said. "He jumped up and made a play."
"He" was J.J. Watt, a rookie defensive end, who reached up with both hands, batted the ball flat, grabbed it and raced 29 yards for a touchdown.
"That's not ...