Houston Must Change Course in AFC Rematch

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HOUSTON The Houston Texans were looking forward to enjoying a bye this week before beginning their work in the playoffs as the AFCs top seed.

Instead, a terrible month in which they lost three of four games dropped the Texans to the third seed. It has them in the exact same spot as year ago, hosting the Cincinnati Bengals in a first-round playoff game today.

The Texans wasted little time this week lamenting their missed opportunities, though, instead focusing on their next task.

Would we like to be in a different situation? Yeah, but at the same time, its the playoffs. Its the start of the playoffs. Everything youve done up to this point, it doesnt really matter, Houstons Andre Johnson said. It only matters what you do now ... we just have to take advantage of the opportunity we have now.

Theyll face a Cincinnati team that has won three in a row and seven of its last eight games.

The Bengals are in the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first time since 1981-82. Their last playoff win came Jan. 6, 1991 against the Oilers, the team the Texans replaced in Houston.

Cincinnati offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said he isnt worried about the more than 20-year streak of playoff futility. He wants to focus on the improvement this young team has made.

Last year, we did what it took to get into the playoffs when a lot of people predicted us to be 0-16, Whitworth said. This year, we got back in to the playoffs when a lot of people didnt think we could. Were here. The next step is winning a playoff game. Hopefully, we can let that be a chip on our shoulder.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked four times and threw three interceptions in last years 31-10 postseason loss to the Texans. …