Arian Foster ran for 140 yards and a touchdown, and the Houston Texans used a stifling defensive effort for a 19-13 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday in an AFC wild-card playoff game at Reliant Stadium.
Texans kicker Shayne Graham scored a 48-yard field goal to give the Texans a 3-0 lead with 7:49 left in the first quarter. J.J. Watt had his first sack of the game in the first quarter, resulting in a loss of nine yards on the play.
A 27-yard field goal with 13:07 remaining in the second quarter added to the Texans lead of 6-0.
The Bengals got on the scoreboard when cornerback Leon Hall intercepted a pass intended for James Casey by Matt Schaub and returned it for the Bengals first touchdown. The Bengals had a 7-6 lead with 9:30 left in the second quarter.
With 2:19 left in the first half, a 22-yard field goal by Graham gave the Texans a 9-7 lead.
Houston scored its first touchdown with 10:31 left in the third quarter when Arian Foster scored a one-yard touchdown run. The Texans widened the lead to 16-7. The drive went six plays, 51 yards and lasted 3:20. Foster became the first player in NFL history to have 100-yard games in each of his first three playoff games.
A 34-yard field goal by the Bengals' Josh Brown resulted in 16-10 Texans with 7:48 remaining in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, a 24-yard field goal by Graham widened the Texans lead to 19-10.
Brown connected on a 47-yard field goal to bring the score to 19-13 Texans with 9:03 left in the game.
For Houston, the win turned around a disappointing end to their impressive regular season. Houston lost three of its last four games after winning 11 of 12 games.
"We found a way to win a close football game and that was our goal from the get-go," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. "These guys stayed the course. Nobody on this team panics. They've got a lot of class and they battled."
"It's excitement. It's just a great feeling to come away with a win. We just had to rally around each other and we did that," Schaub said.
"All it takes is one week to turn things around in the NFL and we did that. Every Sunday, you have to come around and bring your best," Foster said.
"It was a full defensive effort," Watt said.
Cincy had a strong finish to the regular season with wins in its last three games.
Cincinnati strong safety Chris Crocker was inactive for the Bengals. Crocker missed practice all week with a thigh injury. Nate Clements started in his place.
Houston's Barrett Ruud started at inside linebacker for Tim Dobbins, who was placed on injured reserve Friday with an ankle injury. Cornerback Alan Ball was active for Houston after missing the last five games with a sore foot.
Houston's inactive players were cornerbacks Roc Carmichael and Stanford Routt, fullback Tyler Clutts, guards Cody White and Antoine Caldwell, tackle Andrew Gardner and nose tackle Terrell McClain.
Other inactive players for the Bengals were cornerback Jason Allen, defensive tackles Brandon Thompson and Devon Still, tight end Richard Quinn, running back Daniel Herron and receiver Dane Sanzenbacher.
The Texans finally made the playoffs for the first time last season. The second trip was very similar to the first with Houston hosting and beating Cincinnati in a wild-card game. Cincinnati hasn't won a playoff game since 1991, the league's longest current losing streak.
Officials said 71,738 fans were in attendance at Saturday's game in Reliant Stadium.
The Texans will next play at New England on Jan. 13.