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Texans 19, Bengals 13

Survive and advance: Arian Foster and Bulls On Parade refuse to let Texans' season end

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Arian Foster Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
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Arian Foster Photo by Michelle Watson/CultureMapSnap
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It wasn't pretty. It wasn't close to dominant (at least not on the offensive side of the ball). It wasn't exactly rock solid.

But it is another playoff win (the second in Houston Texans franchise history)  . . . and a chance for a rematch in Foxboro with the New England Patriots (12-4) next Sunday afternoon. The same Patriots who drubbed the Texans there 42-14 in that Monday Night Football showdown.

OK, there may be more than a little problem with that last part.

But it's much better to be playing than going home. Texans 19, Cincinnati Bengals 13. And the season goes on.

 Foster is not just playing for his place in the game. He's running to make sure his buddy Andre Johnson beats Father Time and gets to that Super Bowl stage. 

The largest crowd in Reliant Stadium history (71,738) saw their Texans (13-4) survive and advance, thanks to a throwback (circa January 2011) performance from The Bulls On Parade and Arian Foster's usual high-stakes brilliance.

Wade Phillips' defense held the Bengals (10-7) to 198 yards (53 in the first half) and tormented quarterback Andy Dalton into a 0-for-9 third down, no-success rate.

Foster would finish with 140 rushing yards on 32 carries and another 34 yards on eight catches. The going is beyond tough? Why not just get No. 23 a whopping 40 touches.

Foster is the first running back in NFL history to rush for more than 100 yards in each of his first three playoff games. He always seems to rise with the pressure.

"There’s an old saying in football, they say, ‘Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games.’ And that’s what I try to do," Foster said earlier in the week.

Foster is not just playing for his place in the game. He's running to make sure his buddy Andre Johnson beats Father Time and gets to that Super Bowl stage.

When Houston finally scored a touchdown in the third quarter, Foster spiked the ball in the end zone before doing his traditional Namaste bow. Touchdowns used to come easy for this team. Now, it's best to savor them.

The Texans got one in this game and when they had the lead late, Kubiak once again showed he trusts the defense first, electing not to go for it on a short fourth-and-1 even as Foster, Schaub and others on the offense pleaded for him to do so.

Foster was much more involved in passing game, catching eight balls, giving the Texans offense back a threat it largely missed most of the season. 

The Bengals have not won a playoff game in 22 years and Dalton did little to end the streak. In the first 35 minutes of game action, the Katy kid threw for . . . three yards.

By the time, Dalton finally started getting a few passes to A.J. Green — a receiver who has only been compared to Calvin Johnson — the Texans already led 16-7.

Dalton forced a pass to Green down 16-10 and didn't come close to hitting him, sailing one that Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph picked off deep in Bengals territory. That gifted the Texans yet another field goal and a nine-point fourth quarter edge.

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