The Houston Texans are heading back to New England, where their season began to unravel.
A 19-13 win over Cincinnati on Saturday in the wild-card round means the Texans have a date next Sunday in Foxborough. Arian Foster, the catalyst in the victory against the Bengals, isn’t fazed by facing the AFC East champions, who routed Houston 42-14 last month.
“I’m not a big believer in momentum,” Foster said. “Every Sunday you have to come out and bring your best or you can get beat on any day.”
Houston (13-4) lost three of its last four games to blow home-field advantage in the conference, slipping to third overall.
New England (12-4) is a 9 1/2-point favorite.
Later Saturday night, Green Bay (11-5) hosted Minnesota (10-6), which was without injured starting quarterback Christian Ponder.
On Sunday, the Beltway will be buzzing. First, AFC North champion Baltimore hosts Indianapolis. Then NFC East winner Washington plays Seattle.
While Houston heads to Foxborough next weekend, AFC West winner Denver (13-3) will host either Baltimore or Indianapolis. NFC South champ Atlanta (13-3) and NFC West winner San Francisco (11-4-1) also had byes.
Texans 19, Bengals 13
Foster gained 140 yards, becoming the first player with at least 100 yards rushing in his first three postseason games. He scored on a 1-yard run and also had eight receptions.
“It only takes one week to turn things around in the NFL and we did that,” said Foster, whose team lost to Minnesota and Indianapolis to slip to the AFC’s third seed.
Cincinnati (10-7) gained only 198 yards and had 12 first downs. Its touchdown came on Leon Hall’s interception return.
“It’s hard to put it into words,” Hall said. “It’s disappointing. I mean, we had a good year, but it didn’t end how we wanted it to and how we planned it to. At the end of the day, they made the plays that won the game for them.”
With a second straight wild-card loss in Houston, the Bengals extended one of the NFL’s longest playoff droughts. They haven’t won a postseason game since the 1990 season.
They got two field goals from Josh Brown, and Andy Dalton overthrew an open A.J. Green in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.