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What a day of vindication it must be for former Tar Heel Quarterback TJ Yates. Yates wasn’t recruited out of high school until the Heels saw him play while recruiting another player. TJ then went through and up and down college career. At one point in his junior season it was so bad that he was booed when introduced to the crowd at the Dean Smith Center.
Then he wasn’t invited to the NFL Draft combine and only ended up in Indianapolis as an extra arm to throw to the featured players. Drafted in the 5th round, Yates was relegated to a third string role. Meanwhile Andy Dalton and Cam Newton are the toast of the NFL while starring in Cincinnati and Carolina. Then, injuries to Matt Schaub and backup Matt Leinart gave Yates a chance. Typically when a team has to count on its third string passer, it’s time to pack it up and think about the draft (see Colts: Peyton Manning).
I wonder if Bill Polian is wishing he had drafted Yates now?
Entering the game all I heard from everyone was how Dalton was going to beat Yates. How Dalton, Marvin Lewis and AJ Green have turned the Bengals around. Yates didn’t quite light it up, going 11/20 for 159 yards and 1 touchdown. Admittedly the Texans’ win was more about great defense and Arian Foster running through the Cincinnati defense. But still Yates did a nice job of managing the win.
The most important thing in football is not turning the ball over. Dalton threw for more yards and if you take away his 3 interceptions he would have had the more impressive day. However, the only stat that mattered on Saturday was the INT total, Yates-0, Dalton-3. WR Andre Johnson caught the game clinching TD on a beautiful pass from Yates in the 4th to bury the Bengals.
The NFL is a passing league these days, but don’t count out teams like Houston. Playoff football is different. Defense, special teams and a running game are also key formulas for success. The Texans and San Francisco 49ers are very similar teams that could do some real damage in the playoffs.
Keep It Heel!
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