By Will Martin – firstname.lastname@example.org
It was quite by luck and by a late phone call that I got the opportunity to go cover a playoff game of the NFL Wild Card variety on Saturday.
A rematch of two exact opponents 1 year to the calendar day.
Ironic in that last year on this day I was in Frisco and Dallas watching another bowl game between two Division 1 teams (North Dakota and Sam Houston State). They also played in a rematch this very day.
For some reason each time I make the trek towards H-Town the first three hours are a snap. Once I get near the Woodlands either the traffic gets snarly or the weather gets rotten.
Heavy rains welcomed me to Houston right before hopping aboard the I 610 Loop. Just when I thought drivers on the Dallas Tollway more the most obnoxious I was proven wrong. Ever try ice skating on roller skates?
The inclement weather kept the tailgating to an absolute minimum around Reliant Stadium, Once inside you could feel the energy build as game time wore closer. The energy you sense at a regular game in comparison to a playoff game are two separate entities; Two teams arrive and only one shall survive and continue.
The Cincinnati Bengals came in winners of 7 of 8 while the Texans limped in after an 11-1 mark and a royal beating in New England. Alas, the Cincinnati Bengals endure an unpopular statistic. Every team in the NFL has won at least one playoff game since the last time Cincinnati won one-1990.
And that drought shall continue…
Before a record setting playoff crowd of 71,738 vocal fans the defense of the Texans pitched a virtual shutout on Andy Dalton and Cincy. Arian Foster became the 1st player in NFL history to rush for over 100 yards in his first three playoff games.
Matt Schaub was dealing with a tough media this week bordering on Romo-esque. His 1st playoff game. Dalton has been here before, what about you Matt? Will you be ready to play?
A good running game is a given for an objective once you reached the playoffs. Arian Foster did his part with 32 carries and 140 yards. Matt Schaub fell victim to ill-timed tosses and some poorly placed throws.
Andy Dalton has seen better days. Saturday’s Wild Card matchup in Houston was more about the prowess of two defenses. JJ ‘Swatt’ Watt is by far the best defensive player in the game today and his ability to disrupt the flow of the Bengals offense very apparent.
Schaub on the other hand had trouble finishing drives in the first half resulting in three field goals and a 9-7. Matt Schaub gave the Bengals their points on a Pick Six by Leon Hall.
When the second half commenced Houston got the ball first and would score the games only offensive touchdown on a 1 yard plunge by Arian Foster. A stifling defense would rule the rest of the day.
1 touchdown and 4 field goals will not be enough for Houston to overpass the Patriots.
JJ Watts said it best.
‘Our defense kept coming off the field on third down. Our offense controlled the ground game. That’s all you can ask for. See you in Foxboro.’
Hopefully with a win, and 1 more trip to Houston this season against all odds.
Matt Schaub wins his first ever playoff game as a Texan going 29 of 38 and 262 workmanlike yards. Houston is going to need a lot more next week. My thanks to the people of Houston for the hospitality.