Yates, not Dalton, plays like a veteran QB
Posted on: January 7, 2012 7:54 pm
By Josh Katzowitz
Andy Dalton entered Saturday’s wild card game as the sure-handed quarterback. The one who (maybe) could compete with Cam Newton to win offensive rookie of the year. The one who had led the Bengals -- a Cincinnati team that hardly anybody expected to win six games, much less earn a playoff berth -- to the postseason. The one who had succeeded in Jay Gruden’s offensive scheme and threw for 3,398 yards, 20 touchdowns and a passer rating of 80.4.
Six weeks ago, T.J. Yates was an afterthought.
But on Saturday, Yates, formerly the third-string quarterback, out-gunned Dalton, and the Texans continued their outstanding season while the Bengals absolutely melted down in the 31-10 Houston win.
While we could rip Marvin Lewis’ coaching performance -- we sorta did that after the first half – or we could describe how Dalton played like a clueless rookie, let’s throw a spotlight on how resilient the Texans offense has been this season with Yates in charge.
When Matt Schaub was knocked out for the season in Week 10, the Texans were left for dead. The next game, that thought was confirmed when Matt Leinart suffered a season-ending injury (after all, if you’re counting on Leinart to be your savior, you know your team is screwed).
But then Yates happened. And the fifth-round draft pick didn’t seem nervous while maintaining the team lead in the Week 12 win against the Jaguars. And he didn’t seem frazzled when he beat the Falcons the next week at home. And he didn’t seem worried when he notched his first comeback victory in Week 14 at Cincinnati.
He seemed … well, ready.
Yes, the Texans were coming off a three-game losing streak entering today's game, including a dreadful defeat to the Colts. But Yates (along with Arian Foster, who gained 153 yards and two touchdowns, and a swarming Houston defense that forced three turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown) passed another test by beating a Bengals defense that’s pretty damn strong.
“We did a good job of moving the ball up and down the field the entire game,” Yates said on NBC after the game. “The way we ran the ball today, it’ll be hard to stop us in the playoffs.”
While Yates’ stat line wasn’t outstanding (11 of 20 for 159 yards and a touchdown), the Texans don’t necessarily need him to be outstanding. They need him to be steady. Which is what he’s been.
Will he replace Schaub as the Texans starting quarterback next year? Of course not. But Yates has accomplished something Schaub never has. He’s won a playoff game.
And who knows where he -- and the Texans -- can go from here.
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