The Texans got some help from Jacksonville. Then they got some help from their former kicker. The end result? The Texans are in the playoffs.
Former Texan Randy Bullock missed a 43-yard field goal as time expired and the Texans held on for a 12-10 win over Cincinnati. The victory, combined with Jacksonville’s surprising 38-17 stomping of the Titans, clinched the AFC South for Houston.
The Texans can now rest their key players in the finale against Tennessee, as the game is unlikely to improve the Texans’ seeding.
The game itself was not pretty in any way. The Texans were held scoreless in the first half, and Tom Savage was doing his best Brock Osweiler impression, minus the picks. The second half was better, but awful play-calling almost cost the Texans the game. They rarely were able to do anything on offense but were helped by constant Bengals penalties. The play-calling in the red zone was borderline bizarre.
The Texans did not cross into Bengals territory until the third quarter. They were outgained by the Bengals and did not find the end zone until Alfred Blue broke free for a 24-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to provide the final margin.
The Texans forced the game’s only turnover, but did nothing with it. This was a game that if you just look at the stats, you wonder how they won (like many of their victories this season). The answer? The defense was terrific until the fourth quarter, when they gave up an inexplicable 86-yard touchdown to Brandon LaFell, then crumpled late when the Bengals drove into field goal position.
But Bullock’s miss saved them.
The Texans are not impressive. They have not won a game easily all year. But they are in the playoffs. And with Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota out with bad injuries, suddenly things look less daunting in the AFC outside of New England. What the Texans will do in the playoffs is a story for another day.
The story today? They are in. It wasn’t pretty getting there, but the end result is beautiful.