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Houston at Cincinnati

Yates helps Texans clinch AFC South

CBSSports.com wire reports

CINCINNATI -- Eighty yards to cover, little more than 2 minutes left, no timeouts to help. Rookie quarterback T.J. Yates faced his biggest challenge as he lined up for the snap.

With savvy and a scramble, he pulled it off.

Yates led the biggest drive in Texans history on Sunday, one that put them in the end zone and the playoffs. He threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Walter with 2 seconds left for a 20-19 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals that sent the expansion team into the playoffs for the first time.

"It's pretty crazy," Yates said. "A lot of people in this organization have waited a long time for this. This is a special day for this team and this organization."

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In the span of a few wild minutes, everything broke their way.

With their seventh straight win, the Texans (10-3) moved to the threshold of the playoffs. They hugged on the field then headed to the locker room, where they huddled around a television set and watched the final minutes of Tennessee's game play out.

They needed a Titans loss to clinch the AFC South.

When time ran out on the Titans, preserving New Orleans' 22-17 victory, the Texans screamed, hugged, and donned black championship caps and white T-shirts. Injured receiver Andre Johnson, who didn't play because of a strained hamstring, got a game ball for his part in turning the team into a winner.

"Words really can't describe it," Johnson said. "It's something I've been waiting for for a long time."

Since their inaugural season in 2002, the Texans have been little more than a tease. They would come close to reaching the playoffs, only to fade and fumble in the big games. They couldn't quite get that breakthrough win.

An unlikely rookie took them the last step.

Yates, a fifth-round draft pick, got his chance when Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart suffered season-ending injuries in consecutive weeks. Making only his second start, Yates led the Texans on their biggest comeback of the season.

With everything on the line for both teams, the Bengals (7-6) couldn't stop him.

"A rookie quarterback beat us today," safety Chris Crocker said. "He did it with both his arm and his feet. I don't even know what to say. Wow."

Wow, indeed.

Yates scrambled 17 yards on third-and-15 to keep the drive going. A pass interference penalty on Adam Jones put the ball at the 6-yard line with 12 seconds left. After an incompletion, Walter lined up wide right, cut to the middle of the field and was uncovered at the goal line.

CBSSports.com Grades
Houston Texans
Houston Texans
Suddenly the injuries to Matt Schaub and Matt Lienart don't seem so fatal. Rookie T.J. Yates looked like a 10-year veteran in leading an 80-yard, game-winning touchdown drive in the final minutes. The Texans are very much in the conversation as contenders in the AFC thanks to the surprising development of the former third-string QB.
Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals
Marvin Lewis called this the biggest game in his nine years with the Bengals and after blowing a nine point fourth-quarter lead it's among the most heartbreaking. Cincinnati had to win, and to allow rookie QB T.J. Yates to engineer an 80-yard drive in the final two minutes is inexcusable and could very likely decide their playoff fate.
By Paul Dehner
RapidReports Correspondent

Offensive tackle Duane Brown ran to Yates and repeatedly slapped his helmet in celebration.

The kid had come through when it mattered most.

"Hey, we're champs!" receiver Jacoby Jones said. "All my years I've been playing, I've never been on a team that got over the hump."

Only 41,202 fans -- the second-smallest crowd in Paul Brown Stadium history -- showed up to watch the Bengals turn themselves into a long shot for the playoffs. They had lost three of their previous four, including a 35-7 drubbing in Pittsburgh last week that essentially eliminated them from the AFC North race.

Now, they're going to need help getting the final wild-card berth.

"As far as the team goes, they are very disappointed and I'm going to have to pump some air in them," coach Marvin Lewis said. "Before this game, we controlled our own destiny, and now I can't tell you what is going to happen."

The Texans have kept winning while losing quarterbacks. They took the final step into the playoffs without Johnson, who was inactive Sunday because of a strained left hamstring.

Yates and a solid defense pulled them through. Yates went 26 of 44 for 300 yards with two touchdowns, one interception and five sacks.

Houston's defense was the stingiest in the AFC, and came through after the Texans fell behind 16-3 at halftime. Andy Dalton was sacked and fumbled, setting up Yates' 6-yard touchdown pass that got the Texans some momentum early in the third quarter.

"It did not look like we had any chance of getting out of here with a win," coach Gary Kubiak said. "But we have a young quarterback who believes in what he's doing."


  • The Bengals managed 81 yards in the second half. Cedric Benson carried eight times and lost a yard overall in the half.
  • Houston had one sack, leaving it one shy of the club record of 37 in 2005.
  • Cincinnati's Mike Nugent kicked field goals of 22, 47, 49 and 28 yards.
  • Bengals RG Bobbie Williams hurt his right ankle in the second quarter and didn't return.
  • The crowd was smaller than one of the University of Cincinnati's two games at Paul Brown Stadium this season. The Bearcats drew 48,152 fans for a game against West Virginia on Nov. 12. Their game against Louisville on Oct. 15 drew 40,971.
Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Sun. Dec. 11Final
Pass: T. Yates (26-44, 300) A. Dalton (16-28, 189)
Rush: B. Tate (8-67) C. Benson (21-91)
Rec: O. Daniels (7-100) A. Green (5-59)
Scoring Summary
FGNeil Rackers, 46 Yd, 9:51. Drive: 7 plays, 59 yards in 3:08.
FGMike Nugent, 22 Yd, 4:54. Drive: 9 plays, 71 yards in 4:57.
FGMike Nugent, 47 Yd, 2:31. Drive: 4 plays, -4 yards in 0:53.
TDJerome Simpson, 17 Yd pass from Andy Dalton (Mike Nugent kick is good), 3:02. Drive: 15 plays, 97 yards in 7:45.
FGMike Nugent, 49 Yd, 0:06. Drive: 4 plays, 32 yards in 0:24.
TDJoel Dreessen, 6 Yd pass from T.J. Yates (Neil Rackers kick is good), 12:27. Drive: 4 plays, 17 yards in 1:52.
FGMike Nugent, 28 Yd, 2:07. Drive: 12 plays, 88 yards in 6:48.
FGNeil Rackers, 33 Yd, 5:31. Drive: 13 plays, 83 yards in 6:04.
TDKevin Walter, 6 Yd pass from T.J. Yates (Neil Rackers kick is good), 0:02. Drive: 13 plays, 80 yards in 2:31.
Players of the Game

A. Dalton
Att 28
Comp 16
Yds 189
TD 1

T. Yates
Att 44
Comp 26
Yds 300
TD 2
T. Yates26/4430021
B. Tate867044
A. Foster154109
T. Yates536017
O. Daniels7100027
K. Walter676119
J. Jones339018
A. Foster433021
B. Tate330014
J. Dreessen322110
A. Dalton16/2818910
C. Benson2191042
A. Hawkins1404
B. Scott6404
A. Dalton1202
A. Green559036
J. Gresham345026
J. Simpson238121
A. Hawkins122022
B. Scott215014
A. Caldwell21008
C. Benson1000
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
CLE 3 Final
PIT 14
IND 10 Final
BAL 24
ATL 31 Final
CAR 23
MIN 28 Final
DET 34
OAK 16 Final
GB 46
TB 14 Final
JAC 41
PHI 26 Final
MIA 10
KC 10 Final
NYJ 37
NO 22 Final
TEN 17
NE 34 Final
WAS 27
SF 19 Final
ARI 21
CHI 10 Final
DEN 13
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SD 37
NYG 37 Final
DAL 34
STL 13 Final
SEA 30