HOUSTON — J.J. Watt swatted away passes, Arian Foster ran from tacklers and the Houston Texans did enough to knock Cincinnati out of the playoffs for the second straight year.
Matt Schaub made his postseason debut a successful one when Fosters 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter helped the Texans to a 19-13 AFC wild-card playoff win over the Bengals on Saturday.
Now comes the big test. The Texans move on to the second round on Jan. 13, when they visit the New England Patriots, who beat them 42-14 in Week 14.
Shayne Graham kicked four field goals for the Texans, while Foster finished with 140 yards and became the first NFL player to have 100-yard games in each of his first three playoff games. Watt finished with a sack and swatted away two of Andy Daltons pass attempts, once wagging his finger at the Bengals quarterback after the play.
The Texans had trouble finishing drives and managed three field goals in the first half against the Bengals. Houston struck first after the break, with Foster scoring the games only offensive touchdown to make it 16-7.
Schaub, who missed last years playoffs with a foot injury, had an interception returned for a touchdown by Leon Hall before halftime.
Johnathan Joseph, a former Bengal and ex-USC standout, came up with an interception for the Texans, who kept Cincinnati without a playoff win since 1991, the leagues longest current streak.
The Texans didnt let the Bengals convert a third down on nine tries.
The Texans rebounded from a month where they lost three of four games and the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The win came in front of a record crowd of 71,738, including former Oilers great Earl Campbell.
We like to run the ball and play good defense, Foster said. It only takes one week to turn things around in the NFL and we did that.
Schaub shook off his first-half miscue to finish 29 of 38 for 262 yards.
The Bengals couldnt do anything offensively before the break, and were outgained 250-53 in the first half. Dalton was 4 of 10 for 3 yards in the first half. He finished 14 of 30 for 127 yards.
Houston piled up 351 yards and held the ball for 32 minutes through three quarters, but got into the end zone once.
Daltons 45-yard pass to Summervilles A.J. Green got Cincinnati moving in the third quarter and set up Josh Browns 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.
In last years playoffs, the Texans trounced the Bengals 31-10.
The main difference in this one: Schaub was back in charge for Houston. Rookie T.J. Yates filled in for Schaub, got the Texans a win in their first-ever playoff game, but couldnt take them any farther.
On their second possession, the Texans started moving. Schaub completed an 18-yard pass, Foster had a 17-yard run and Keshawn Martin went 16 yards on a reverse, setting up Grahams field goal.
Then Schaub did the thing he wanted to avoid he let Cincinnatis defense get its hands on the ball. Hall anticipated Schaubs throw, stepped in front and returned it untouched for the defenses fourth touchdown in the past four games.
Ponder out, Webb in at QB for Vikings
Christian Ponder was inactive for Minnesotas wild-card playoff game against the Green Bay Packers because of a right elbow injury.
The surprise announcement about 90 minutes before Saturdays game meant Joe Webb started at quarterback for the Vikings.
Ponder was hurt when Packers safety Morgan Burnett delivered a jarring hit on a blitz when the teams played last Sunday. Ponder finished the game with a career-high 120.2 passer rating and three touchdowns in the 37-34 win.