- Associated Press - Saturday, January 7, 2012

HOUSTON — Andre Johnson hugged his coach at the end of Houston’s first playoff victory — a moment a decade in the making.

“This is something not just for me, but for the whole organization,” the Texans star receiver said. “It’s a very special feeling. That’s probably the most I’ve smiled in a long time.”

As well he should.

Johnson, the face of this 10-year old franchise, scored on a 40-yard pass that powered the Texans to a 31-10 victory over the bungling Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday in an AFC wild-card game.

Johnson had plenty of help, too, from rookies J.J. Watt and T.J. Yates to running back Arian Foster’s two touchdowns and 153 yards.

Watt came through with a leaping interception return for a touchdown late in the first half, Yates threw a pinpoint pass to Johnson in the third quarter and Foster followed with his second touchdown — a 42-yard run in the fourth quarter — to finish off the Bengals (9-8).

Houston will play at Baltimore (12-4) next Sunday, a rematch of a regular-season game won by the Ravens.

“I’m just very proud of all the guys, and the job they did,” Texans coach Gary Kubiak said. “Hopefully, there are some more to come.”

The Bengals were in the playoffs for the third time in seven seasons, but haven’t advanced since beating the Houston Oilers following the 1990 season. They were done in this time by mistakes and a lack of pass protection.

“We have to get beyond this,” Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. “We play in a very difficult division. We have to win games in the division, that is important and it sets up opportunities like this, all the time.”

Watt returned the first of rookie Andy Dalton’s three interceptions 29 yards for a score that broke a 10-all tie with 52 seconds left in the half. It sent the full house of 71,725 fans at Reliant Stadium into a frenzy, and the Texans into the locker room with all the momentum.

“You can see that they were all so proud of their team,” Houston owner Bob McNair said of the team’s long-suffering fans. “We want to have a team everybody can be proud of and want to feel an attachment to. I think they have that.”

Dalton was 24 of 42 for 257 yards, while Yates was 11 of 20 for 159 yards in the first playoff game in the Super Bowl era matching two rookie quarterbacks. Foster’s first TD was an 8-yard run in the first quarter.

The Texans’ second-ranked defense had its best performance in several weeks, sacking Dalton a season-high four times. Houston also forced four turnovers.

“We got back to our type of football,” Kubiak said, “and that was the key.”

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