Originally written on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 1/7/12

Playing in your team's first ever playoff game gives you the opportunity to get in the record book for all kinds of things. The Texans' first ever playoff touchdown? Arian Foster on a 9-yard run around the edge, on a perfectly blocked play, then followed it up with a "Dream Shake" tribute to Hakeem Olajuwon.

That score tied the game early, 7-7, and was an important marker in the game of playoff momentum. The biggest story of this game between two inexperienced playoff teams? Both teams made mistakes, but the Texans got away with theirs. Foster fumbled the ball twice in his first six carries, but recovered them both before making his scoring run on carry number seven.

Meanwhile, the Texans were ready to pounce when the Bengals made mistakes of their own. To wit:

  • Head coach Marvin Lewis throws away both of his challenges on two iffy calls that would barely have benefited his team if correct. Could not challenge a much more important ruling on Houston's game-tying field goal attempt that made the game 10-10. Also could not challenge Arian Foster's game-icing 42-yard run, in which he clearly stepped out of bounds.
  • JJ Watt reads Andy Dalton's eyes and puts his hands up, and ends up with an amazing catch and run for the go-ahead points (Houston's first ever playoff interception and defensive touchdown). 
  • Andre Johnson makes a classic double-move on Bengals CB Pacman Jones and gets an instant ten yards of separation, allowing TJ Yates to hit him on a back-foot floater for a touchdown.

Johnson's 3rd quarter touchdown put the Texans up 24-10. And it came after the Bengals blew their last and best chance to swing the momentum back in their favor, when Chris Crocker dropped a sure interception with nothing but green grass between him and the end zone.

Momentum is a big factor in the playoffs, especially for road teams, and extra-especially when you're facing a crowd that hasn't had a home playoff game to celebrate in 18 years. While Andy Dalton and the Bengals looked up to the task in a closely-fought first half, the second half belonged solely to the home team and their fans.

Dalton finished the game with 3 interceptions (only one of which was his fault) and no touchdowns, but showed a lot of good attributes in his postseason debut, including poise and command, completing 27 of 42 passes for 257 yards.

Rather than follow the conventional wisdom of letting your young QB warm up slowly with lots of short, safe passes, Dalton set the Bengals up for their first score on a perfectly-thrown 52-yard pass to AJ Green that would have been caught (and possibly taken in for a score), but for a blatant pass interference call.

Under the opposite center, TJ Yates was not asked to carry his team, but he did make the throws that the gameplan required of him, after a couple of early flubbed passes. But thanks to Arian Foster and the Texans' offensive line, Yates didn't have to be spectacular. Efficient was enough in this round of the playoffs.

Will it be enough for next week's game against the Baltimore Ravens? That's a question for another day. For now, the Houston Texans are celebrating their first ever playoff win.


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