Rookie quarterbacks aren't supposed to do things like this. Fifth-round draft picks are not even supposed to dream of them. And the Houston Texans . . . no way, they are not supposed to be this clutch.
But these Texans and T.J. Yates are — and they just pulled off the most remarkable Sunday in Texans' franchise history. Yates — the third-string rookie quarterback turned difference maker — drove the Texans 80 yards in the last 2:33 in Cincinnati as Houston shocked the Bengals 20-19 on Yates' 6-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Walter with 00:02 remaining.
And when the New Orleans Saints stopped the driving Tennessee Titans inside the Saints' 10-yard line across the country in Tennessee minutes later, the Texans suddenly had their first playoff berth in franchise history. The Texans (10-3) are not just in the playoffs either. They are AFC South division champions, still tied for the best record in the entire AFC with only three regular season games remaining. Now Houston is guaranteed at least one home playoff game as well.
Do you believe in miracles of resiliency?
His work (with his parents watching from almost the very top of Cincinnati's stadium to the CBS' endless delight) was more Tom Brady than Tim Tebow. For Yates won this game with his arm.
Houston certainly does with Yates, the Texans' third starting quarterback this season, throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns (on 26-for-44 passing) and rushing for 36 more. Gary Kubiak's team rallied from a 16-3 halftime deficit to stun a Bengals team (7-6) fighting for its playoff lives.
Wade Phillips' Miracle Defense gave up less than 85 yards of total offense in the second half and Yates threw touchdown passes to tight end Joel Dreessen and Walter.
After running off the field in joy, the Texans watched New Orleans turn back the Titans at the goal line as a team in the locker room and jumped around some more when it was over — realizing that after 10 long seasons, the Texans are a playoff franchise.
"Oh, unbelievable," Walter said immediately afterwards in an interview with 610 AM. "This is a special moment that not a lot of guys get to experience."
No one in a Texans uniform has ever experienced such a playoff moment before. Fittingly, Houston owner Bob McNair and longtime wide receiver Andre Johnson (the greatest all-time Texan, even though he couldn't play in this game with a hamstring injury) received game balls from an emotional Kubiak.
Yates got one too of course.
His work (with his parents watching from almost the very top of Cincinnati's stadium to the CBS' announcers endless delight) was more Tom Brady than Tim Tebow. For Yates won this game with his arm. Though, one miracle scramble sure helped. The last drive came with the Texans having no timeouts and seemingly remote hope.
Yates accounted for all 80 yards in the drive, completing 5 of 9 passes for 51 yards, running for 17 yards on a critical third-and-15 and picking up 17 more on a pass interference penalty that brought the ball to the Cincinnati six with 18 seconds left.
Moments later, the ball was in Walter's hands in the end zone, Kubiak was getting a Gatorade shower and the Texans were playoff dancing.
Tight end Owen Daniels finished with seven catches for 100 yards, Walter caught six passes for 76 yards and Houston overcame three lost fumbles and an interception. That's what these 2011 Texans do. Overcome.
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