Clowney, Texans headed to postseason after win over Bengals
HOUSTON (AP) — Jadeveon Clowney can’t wait for his first career playoff appearance after missing Houston’s postseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs last season with a foot injury.
“It’s going to be great,” he said. “I was mad last year. I missed it and I was real upset I couldn’t get out there with my teammates. This year, I’m going to try and get out there with them and try to help win another game and keep going forward.”
Clowney and the Texans are headed to the playoffs after surviving a scare from the Cincinnati Bengals to get a 12-10 victory on Saturday night that clinched their second straight AFC South title.
Tom Savage threw for 176 yards in his first career start and the Bengals missed a field goal as time expired to give the Texans the win.
The Bengals converted a fourth down play to keep a drive alive, but four plays later, former Texan Randy Bullock missed wide right on a 43-yard attempt, securing Houston’s victory.
Clowney, the top overall pick in the 2014 draft who had a sack on Saturday, felt a rush of emotions when he saw that Bullock’s kick was no good.
“Champs. That’s all I was thinking right there,” he said. “We did it. We won the division. Go on to something new. What’s next? Scratch it off. Get ready for the playoffs.”
Savage helped the Texans (9-6) rally for a win over the Jaguars last week after taking over when Brock Osweiler was benched after throwing interceptions on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter.
The Texans knew they were in the postseason with a win after the Titans fell to the Jaguars earlier Saturday. But it didn’t look good for them early with Savage completing just two passes for 13 yards and them trailing 3-0 at halftime.
Cincinnati (6-8-1) went on top when Andy Dalton found Brandon LaFell on a short pass and he took it 86 yards for a touchdown that made it 10-6 with about 11 minutes left.
A 24-yard touchdown run by Alfred Blue put the Texans back on top with about nine minutes left, but the extra point was blocked to leave Houston up 12-10. That score was set up by a 21-yard reception by DeAndre Hopkins.
Some things to know about Houston’s win over the Bengals.
FILLING IN: Lamar Miller missed his first game this season because of an ankle injury and Blue had a season-high 73 yards rushing in his place. Blue’s playing time has been limited this season with the addition of Miller after he started nine games last season following a season-ending injury to Arian Foster.
“Maybe his stats don’t always look the greatest, but he’s a very tough runner,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “And what I think happens is more you use him, he tends to wear the defense out after a while.”
BIG PLAY: Dalton’s 86-yard pass to LaFell was the longest of the quarterback’s career. Dalton depended on LaFell on Saturday night with star receiver A.J. Green out for the fifth straight game with a hamstring injury. LaFell finished with a career-high 130 yards receiving.
“When I looked up the field, it was me and the safety,” LaFell said. “When I saw him stop his feet, I was like: ‘Yeah, no way he’s going to come catch me.’”
MAKING UP FOR MISTAKES: After being called for pass interference twice in the third quarter, Hopkins was determined to make up for his mistakes late in Saturday’s game. He was able to do that when he grabbed that 21-yard reception that set up Blue’s touchdown.
“I had some plays I wish I could have had back ... me being me it put a little fire in me,” he said. “Once I got the ball I knew I had to make a play.”
KICKING WOES: The Bengals have had problems with their kicking game all season. They released Mike Nugent and claimed Bullock off waivers from Pittsburgh on Dec. 13 after Nugent missed six field goals and five extra points this season. Bullock, who was drafted by the Texans in 2012, made a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter before his miss that would have won the game.
“That was exactly what I wanted,” he said. “I did have the opportunity, but I didn’t take advantage.”
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL