American Football: Yates breaks fresh territory for Texans


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The Independent Online

It is a little bit of history that has been a decade in the making. Tonight at the Reliant Stadium, the Houston Texans will entertain the Cincinnati Bengals and finally experience a belated first taste of post-season in the opening fixture of the NFL play-offs.

The Texans joined the NFL in 2002 after the former Houston franchise-holders, the Oilers, moved to Nashville. They became the 32nd franchise to sign up for the NFL but until this season their impact on the sport has not troubled the history books.

Only once before this season had the Texans won more games than they lost but this season has seen them head the AFC South and earn a home game against the Bengals.

Tonight's contest may well be settled by which of two rookie quarter-backs best deals with the pressure of the occasion. Cincinnati's Andy Dalton, a second-round draft pick, grew up in a Houston suburb and has impressed over a season that ended with the Bengals posting a 9-7 record.

TJ Yates was not expected to play anything but a watching part in the campaign but found himself hurried into action after the Texans first and second choice quarter-backs suffered season-ending injuries.

"Unfortunate circumstances have led to me playing," said Yates, who threw a touchdown pass with two seconds remaining to set up a one-point victory for his side at Cincinnati earlier in the season. The Bengals had been 13 points ahead before losing 20-19.

"You've just got to take advantage of every opportunity you get. It's pretty cool to be a part of it," Yates added.

Elsewhere, the New Orleans Saints host the Detroit Lions. The Atlanta Falcons visit the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers go to the Denver Broncos.