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T.J. Yates Leads Houston Texans to 20-19 Comeback Win Over Cincinnati Bengals

John Grieshop, Getty Images

Houston Texans rookie quarterback T.J. Yates led his team to two fourth quarter scoring drives as the Texans erased a 19-10 deficit en route to clinching their first-ever playoff berth with a 20-19 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Texans had a slow start offensively and were down 16-3 at halftime after three Bengals field goals and an Andy Dalton touchdown pass to Jerome Simpson.

The Bengals received the second half kickoff but lost their possession as Connor Barwin forced an Andy Dalton fumble two plays later.  Starting with the ball on the Bengals 17 yard line, Yates led the Texans to a touchdown with a 6 yard pass to Joel Dreessen. That cut down the Bengals lead to 16-10 with 12:27 left in the third quarter.

Cincinnati then extended their lead to 19-10 with a 28 yard Mike Nugent field goal with 2:07 left in the third quarter.

The Texans next drive drove into Bengals territory and Texans head coach Gary Kubiak decided to go for it on a 4th and 2 at the Bengals 32.  However, on the play, Yates was sacked and fumbled and the Bengals recovered the ball and returned it the Texans 48 yard line.

The Texans defense then forced a 3-and-out for the Bengals and on the first play of Houston’s next offensive drive the game almost slipped from the Texans grasp.  With the ball on their own 25 yard line, Yates passed the ball to running back Arian Foster. Foster fumbled and the ball was recovered by the Bengals’ Gino Atkins.  However, Atkins during the fumble return fumbled the ball at the Houston 5 yard line and it was recovered by Texans lineman Eric Winston at the Houston 2 yard line.  Gary Kubiak challenged the initial completion to Foster but the challenge failed and the Texans lost a timeout.

So, with the ball, and a fresh set of downs, Yates led the Texans on a 13 play, 83 yard drive to the Bengals 15 yard line.  The drive fizzled and Neil Rackers kicked a 33 yard field goal to make the score 19-13 with 5:31 left in the game.

After the kickoff, the Bengals were able to move the ball, force the Texans to take their last 2 timeouts and take some time off the clock. With a 4th and 1 at their own 48, the Bengals lined up offensively to either run a play, or try to draw the Texans defense offside. However, a false start by Mike McGlynn killed the Bengals chances at extending the drive and instead forced a punt.  The punt was returned by Jacoby Jones to the Texans 20 yard line.

So with 2:33 left in the game, T.J. Yates had to lead the Texans on an 80-yard touchdown drive with no timeouts, if the Texans were to tie or win the game.  It was a task Yates would accomplish.  Yates’ first three completed passes were to tight end Owen Daniels.  That got the Texans to their own 46 yard line with 1:34 left.  The next play was a 19 yard pass from Yates to Kevin Walter to the Bengals 35. Yates then spiked the ball on first down and was sacked on the second down play. On 3rd and 15, Yates couldn’t find any of his receivers downfield, so he scrambled out of the pocket and converted a first down with a 17 yard run.

Andy Lyons, Getty Images

Three plays later, a pass interference penalty on Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones gave the Texans the ball at the Bengals 6 yard line.  After an incomplete pass, Yates then found Kevin Walter across the middle in the end zone for the game-tying touchdown reception with 2 seconds left.  The extra point from Rackers was good and the Texans stole a 20-19 win away from the Bengals.

Yates finished the game 26/44 passing for 300 yards with 2 touchdowns, 1 interception and 1 fumble.

About 10 minutes after the win, the Texans officially became AFC South Division Champions as the New Orleans Saints beat the Tennessee Titans 22-17.

It’s the first-ever playoff berth and division title for the Texans in their 10-season history and the first playoff berth for a Houston NFL franchise (Houston Oilers) since 1993.

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