HOUSTON (AP) ― Arian Foster ran for 140 yards and a touchdown, and the Houston Texans used a stifling defense for a 19-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday in an AFC wild-card playoff game. The Texans will next play at New England on Jan. 13.
Foster became the first player in NFL history to have 100-yard games in each of his first three playoff games.
The Texans (13-4) had trouble finishing drives all day and mustered only three field goals by Shayne Graham in the first half. Houston struck first after the break, with Foster scoring the game’s only offensive touchdown on a 1-yard run in the third quarter to make it 16-7.
In his first playoff start, Matt Schaub had an interception returned for a touchdown by Leon Hall before halftime.
Johnathan Joseph had an interception and J.J. Watt had a sack as the Texans beat the Bengals (10-7) in the wild-card round for the second consecutive year. Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991, the league’s longest streak.
Foster’s touchdown and another Graham field goal gave the Texans a 16-10 lead after three quarters. Even though Houston dominated, the game was up for grabs throughout because Pro Bowler Schaub made one bad mistake. His sideline pass was intercepted by Hall and returned for a 21-yard touchdown, the cornerback’s second score in three games.
Houston piled up 351 yards and held the ball for 32 minutes through three quarters, but got into the end zone only once.
By contrast, Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton had a horrid time. He completed 4-of-10 passes for 3 yards in the first half. With Watt’s sack added in, the Bengals had minus-6 yards passing and only 53 yards overall.
His 45-yard pass to A.J. Green got Cincinnati moving in the third quarter and set up Josh Brown’s 34-yard field goal. When Dalton tried to go to Green again, Joseph intercepted and got the Texans in scoring range again as the quarter ended.
After swatting down one of Dalton’s passes at the line, Watt wagged his finger at the quarterback.
Nothing was going to come easy.
For the second season in a row, the Bengals opened the playoffs at Houston looking for their first playoff win since the 1990 season, a 21-year drought that was tied for ninth-longest in NFL history.
Packers smother Vikings
GREEN BAY, Wisconsin (AP) ― Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers showed how dangerous they can be when they’re at full strength Saturday night, overwhelming the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 in an NFC wild-card game that was never really close.
John Kuhn scored two touchdowns, DuJuan Harris added another and Rodgers connected with an NFL playoff-record 10 receivers as he threw for 274 yards. Defensively, the Packers (12-5) finally managed to contain Adrian Peterson and were all over Vikings backup Joe Webb, pressed into service because of Christian Ponder’s elbow injury.
Peterson was held to 99 yards ― an improvement after gaining 199 and 210 in the first two games. Webb, who hadn’t thrown a pass all season, was sacked three times and off target all night. His only highlight was a 50-yard scoring pass to Michael Jenkins late in the fourth quarter.
Rodgers led touchdown drives of 82, 62 and 80 yards as the Packers built a 24-3 lead.
Webb did not fare well. He tripped over Clay Matthews for an easy sack early in the second quarter, and he was called for intentional grounding while being swarmed behind the line of scrimmage on the next play.
Webb ran five times for 60 yards, but completed only seven of his first 20 attempts for 61 yards. Peterson gained 69 yards on 19 carries through three quarters.
Rodgers didn’t let up after the Packers took a 17-3 halftime lead. The Vikings had the Packers stopped for a field goal on fourth-and-4, but Jasper Brinkley was called for 12 men on the field when he couldn’t make it to the sideline in time, and the penalty gave the Packers just enough yards to keep going.
Rodgers found Kuhn open on the next play, and the fullback barged into the end zone by barreling over Jamarca Sanford at the goal line for a 24-3 lead.
The last time the Vikings were in a playoff game, they infamously were called for 12 men on the field, too, on offense that time in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game in New Orleans to push them out of field-goal range. Brett Favre threw an interception, and they lost to the Saints in overtime.