Houston, TX – For the second time in less than a calendar year, the Houston Texans have ended the Cincinnati Bengals' season.
In a rematch of an AFC Wild Card game from last season, Arian Foster rushed for 140 yards and a touchdown on 32 carries, as the Houston Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, 19-13, to earn their second straight AFC Wild Card game victory at Reliant Stadium.
Foster added eight catches for 34 yards and became the first player in NFL history to rush for 100-or-more yards in his first three career playoff games.
"I think we controlled the line of scrimmage and any time we do that, we're going to be tough to beat," said Foster, who finished with 174 total yards, just 14 yards shy of Cincinnati's total offensive output.
Quarterback Matt Schaub, who missed last season's 31-10 victory over the Bengals due to a foot injury, finished 29-of-38 for 262 yards with one interception in his first career playoff start.
Owen Daniels added nine catches for 91 yards for the Texans, who improved to 2-1 all-time in the postseason and will visit the second-seeded New England Patriots on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (et).
"We know what it takes to win and that's play good road football and we didn't do that last time we played up there," Schaub said of his team's 42-14 loss in New England on Dec. 10. "We're going to have a good week of preparation, we're going to move on from this one, and we're going to be excited to go up there."
The Cincinnati offense was held in check all game, with quarterback Andy Dalton managing just 127 yards with an interception on 14-of-30 efficiency.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 11 times for 63 yards for Cincinnati, which hasn't won a playoff game since Jan. 6, 1991.
"We have to keep banging on the door until we break it down," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who fell to 0-4 in the playoffs. "A lot of good guys did great things but this is disappointing to me, and it's disappointing to the (players). We've got to find out a way to push it over the hump."
Cincinnati finished the first half with minus-6 passing yards and just four first downs, but trailed by just two, 9-7, at the break thanks to Houston's red zone inefficiencies and a big defensive play by cornerback Leon Hall.
After a three-and-out on its opening touch, Houston took its next two possessions deep into Cincinnati territory, but came away with just three points on each occasion.
Shayne Graham's 48-yard field goal capped the Texans' first scoring drive and after a quick punt from the Bengals, Graham finished off a 12-play, 60-yard march with a 27-yarder to give Cincinnati a 6-0 edge less than two minutes into the second quarter.
With the offense sputtering following another quick punt, Cincinnati's defense came up with a big play to grab the lead.
On the third play of Houston's next touch, Hall stepped in front of a quick out from Schaub and tight-roped the sidelines for a 21-yard interception return touchdown to provide Cincinnati with a 7-6 edge with 9 1/2 minutes left in the half.
Schaub bounced back quickly from the pick, as he found Garrett Graham for 20 yards down to the Cincinnati 39 on the fifth play of Houston's ensuing touch. Foster followed with a 15-yard sprint and then picked up a 3rd-and-1 with a 4- yard surge for a fresh set of downs at the Cincinnati 11.
Houston's offense once again stalled inside the red zone, as Schaub's third- down pass tipped off the fingertips of Andre Johnson in the front of the end zone to set up Shayne Graham's third field goal of the half -- this one a 22-yarder -- to put Houston back in front 9-7 with 2:19 left in the half.
Both teams crossed midfield on their final possessions of the first half, but neither team came away with points, as the Texans carried a 9-7 lead into the locker room.
Houston finally found the end zone on its opening touch of the second half following a three-and-out from the Bengals. A defensive holding penalty on 3rd-and-2 kept the drive alive before Schaub hit Foster for 11 yards and then found Johnson for 22 more to the Cincinnati 5.
Two plays later, Foster surged into the end zone for a 1-yard score to make it 16-7 with 10:31 left in the third.
A.J. Green was held without a catch in the first half, but the second-year sensation broke out on Cincinnati's ensuing touch. Green started the drive with a short 5-yard grab before hauling in a 45-yard heave from Dalton down to the Houston 23.
Dalton went back to Green for seven more on the next play, but his next two passes fell incomplete, setting up Josh Brown's 34-yard field goal to bring the Bengals within 16-10 with 7:48 left in the third.
A Houston punt gave possession back to the Bengals, but Johnathan Joseph picked off a Dalton pass intended for Green and returned it 14 yards to the Cincinnati 26.
Houston made its way inside the 10-yard line after the turnover, but a holding penalty handcuffed the drive and the Texans settled for a 24-yard field goal from Graham to make it 19-10 less than a minute into the fourth.
Cincinnati answered with a scoring drive, as Green-Ellis kept the trek moving with a 2-yard surge on 4th-and-1 from the Houston 39. The drive stalled shortly after, though, setting up Brown's 47-yard field goal to pull the Bengals within 19-13 with just over nine minutes left.
The Bengals forced a Houston punt on the Texans' next touch, giving Cincinnati one final drive with 6:15 remaining. A defensive pass interference penalty on 3rd-and-11 gave Cincinnati a fresh set of downs at midfield before Dalton hit Marvin Jones for 15 yards down to the Houston 35.
Facing 3rd-and-11 later in the drive, Green beat his defender, but Dalton overthrew him in the end zone to bring up a fourth down with 2:51 left.
"I had him beat," Green said. "I laid out, but I still couldn't get my hands on it."
Dalton then hit Jones on a slant, but the Houston defense swarmed to the ball and brought him down short of the first-down marker to turn the ball over on downs.
After back-to-back Foster runs forced the Bengals to use their final two timeouts, Schaub converted a 3rd-and-2 with a 7-yard toss to Garrett Graham. An unnecessary roughness penalty on the hit moved the ball across midfield and the Texans ran out the remaining clock to close out the victory.
Houston has won five straight games against the Bengals ... Houston improved to 7-0 at home against the AFC this year ... Cincinnati's last playoff win came against the previous team from Houston, the Oilers, 41-14, at Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium ... Last season's AFC Wild Card game between these teams was played on Jan. 7, 2012 ... Cincinnati was the first team to have negative passing yards in a half of a playoff game since the Kansas City Chiefs finished a half with minus-8 passing yards against the Colts in 2007 ... The Bengals are 0-6 all-time on the road in the playoffs.