Texans cage Bengals, will get another chance at Pats

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Texans cage Bengals, will get another chance at Pats

When the Houston Texans visited Foxboro less than a month ago, they tapped out after 45 minutes.

Next Sunday, they'll be back. And the question they'll answer is whether that loss built their resolve or broke it.

The Texans got past Cincinnati Saturday in a Wild Card matchup 24-10. It wasn't a work of art but the Texans haven't really had any of those since November began and their declining performance started in earnest.

Houston worked its way down from the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC down to the third seed by losing three of their final four games.

In taking out the sixth-seeded Bengals, Houston relied on its defense and the soon-to-be NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.

The Texans didn't allow an offensive touchdown while forcing Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton into a 14-for-30 passing evening.

Houston didn't do too much offensively either, managing four field goals and an Arian Foster touchdown.

The Texans were dominated by New England in the first meeting in a game where the stage just seemed too big for quarterback Matt Schaub.

Houston can - if it chooses - lament two things from its first meeting.

They ran into an offensive buzzsaw in New England that took advantage of some Houston injuries. And misfires by Schaub undid their offense rather than New England completely dominating them.

Schaub had the Texans at the Patriots 21 on Houston's second drive before he got picked. The Texans also failed to convert on fourth downs from the Patriots 33 and 38 in the second quarter.

If, if, if. ...

The Patriots, meanwhile, can note that they were without Rob Gronkowski and still scored touchdowns on their first three possessions while rendering Watt a non-factor.

There's plenty of time to mull what's changed and what will be different. But the Texans will know that this trip to New England - and the fact they are traveling at all - dates back to the Monday Night Drubbing they took on December 10.

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