On June 18, 2014, T.J. Yates' Houston Texans career seemed over after getting traded to the Atlanta Falcons. On September 4 of this year, when the Falcons dropped him from the roster during the final round of cuts, his NFL career was very much in doubt.
But for Monday night's inspiring performance, coming off the bench to replaced a concussed Brian Hoyer to give the Cincinnati Bengals their first loss of the season, Yates might have Ryan Mallett to thank.
The 27-year-old quarterback who entered the season as one of the guys competing for the starting job infamously missed the team plane before the Texans' game on Oct. 25, shortly after being benched. Two days later, he was cut -- and Yates was signed back on after spending the first two months of the season on his couch.
His chance finally came on Monday, in his first appearance for Houston since Oct. 13, 2013. Yates entered the game in the third quarter, trailing the Bengals 6-3. What happened next almost felt like déjà vu.
Yates beat the Bengals twice as the starter during the 2011 season -- one coming in the postseason for the franchise's first ever playoff win.
DeAndre Hopkins came down with the deep ball in the end zone with 14:20 left in the final period. Houston would hold on for its fourth win.
"It's a little nostalgic," Yates said after throwing the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. "I have a lot of good memories in Cincinnati."
Now 8-1, the Bengals next face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday night. The Texans, surging back into the playoff conversation at 4-5, take on the New York Jets.
And with the way Houston quarterbacks have played this season, Yates might just get another shot next week, even if Hoyer is ready to go.
Texans 10, Bengals 6
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