More rematches ahead.
After Green Bay routed Minnesota 24-10 Saturday night, it set up a trip to San Francisco. The 49ers beat the Packers at Lambeau Field to open the season.
The Packers didn’t let 2,000-yard rusher Adrian Peterson run over them again. Indeed, Packers fullback John Kuhn had a bigger impact with two touchdowns.
And 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.
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 favourite.
“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.”
Adrian Peterson and the Vikings didn’t bring their best to Green Bay. One week after Peterson rushed for 199 yards to lift Minnesota into the playoffs, the 2,000-yard runner was held to 99. And Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder was sidelined by an elbow injury; backup Joe Webb couldn’t manufacture much offence.
While Houston heads to Foxborough next weekend, AFC West winner Denver (13-3) will host Baltimore next Saturday. NFC South champ Atlanta (13-3) gets the Seahawks next Sunday.
Packers 24, Vikings 10
Ten receivers caught passes from Aaron Rodgers, tying a playoff record, with Kuhn scoring on a 9-yarder. DeJuan Harris also had a 9-yard TD run, and Green Bay kept Peterson in check. It was a turnaround from what the star running back did in his last trip to Lambeau, when he rushed for 210 yards. It was Rodgers’ first home playoff victory.
Minnesota’s late touchdown was a 50-yard pass to Michael Jenkins.
Next, the Packers get the Niners (11-4-1), who won 30-22 at Lambeau to start the season. San Francisco is a 3-point favourite.
“They’re different as well,” Rodgers said. “They’re a great defence. Very talented offence as well. It’s going to be a very tough challenge for us.”
Texans 19, Bengals 13
Foster gained 140 yards, becoming the first player with at least 100 yards rushing in his first three post-season 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 post-season game since the 1990 season.