Saturday, December 24, 2016

Houston Texans outlast Cincinnati to take AFC South title

Alfred Blue (28) scored Houston's go-ahead touchdown
to give the Texans the AFC South title.
Photo by Darla Tamulitis, La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved.
By Robert H Kelly
Copyright 2016 TexSport Publications

HOUSTON, TEXAS (December 24, 2016) With five seconds remaining in the game, Cincinnati Bengals' kicker RandyBullock lined up to boot a 43-yard field goal, which went wide right and thus gave the Houston Texans a 12-10 victory and the AFC South title. The win was the ninth of the season for Houston and set them up for a first round playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs.  

The first quarter was a give-and-take affair, with neither team able to game an offensive advantage. Houston quarterback Tom Savage was limited to six yards passing, while Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton was able to complete five passes for 25 yards. Savage was sacked three times in the first 10 minutes of the game, with the Texans achieving a mire 13 yards of total offense. The second quarter was not much better, with the Bengals finally getting on the scoreboard to close the first half. After Dalton drove the ball down the field on Cincinnati’s final possession of the half, Randy
Tom Savage (3) completed 18 passes
for 176 yards and one touchdown
against Cincinnati.
Photo by Darla Tamulitis,
La Vita Loca Photography
Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved
Bullock connected for a 43-yard field goal to give the Bengals a 3-0 lead after 30 minutes of play. The Texans kicked of the second half by driving 68 yards in 11 plays resulting in a 25-yard field goal by Nick Novak to tie the score. They added another Novak field goal at the 13:31 mark in the fourth quarter after driving 71 yards in 12 plays. To make the score 6-3 in favor of the Texans. Cincinnati responded less than three minutes later when Dalton connected with wide receiver Brandon LaFell on a 91-yard pass for the game’s first touchdown. The pass was the long scoring pass of Dalton’s career. Bullock added the extra point to give the Bengals a 10-6 lead with 10:45 remaining in the game.

Savage finally got the drive going he had been working on all game. He started drive after the Bengals’ kickoff and in four play, scored the Texas’ first touchdown of the game. He connected with running back Alfred Blue on a 24-yard pass for six points. The extra point attempt by Novak was blocked by defensive end Margus Hunt, resulting in the Texans taking a 12-10 lead with 8:41 left in the game. With Bullock’s missing the field goal with five seconds in the clock, the Texans advanced to the playoff for the fourth time in team history.

Bullock, who was the first kicker ever drafted by the Texans in 2012, was questioned by the press after the game as to what went wrong with the kick.

“I felt like I hit it pretty well. Timing felt off a little bit, we were trying to hold it. Unfortunately, it affected the kick and that’s on me.”

In the second half, Houston head coach Bill O'Brien made adjustments in the play calling, having the Texans go with a no-huddle offense. The change seemed to work for Savage, completing 18-of-29 passes for 176 yards. Blue carried the ball 21 times for 73 yards with the Houston defense sacking Dalton three times. 

The Texans will close out the regular season on New Year’s Day matchup on the road against the Tennessee Titans with a 12-noon kickoff.

No comments: