The Replacement Quarterbacks

On Saturday afternoon at 4:30pm EST, NFL fans will be treated to their first playoff game of the year between the Houston Texans, who have never been to the postseason, and the Cincinnati Bengals, who haven’t won a playoff game since 1991. Essentially, this is a game where everyone just sighs and waits for the real game between the high scoring Detroit Lions and the always high flying New Orleans Saints at 9pm EST. So why should anyone tune in to watch the early game? Because this is the first time in NFL history that two rookie quarterbacks have competed for a playoff win. One of them is even vying for bragging rights with a credit as Rookie of the Year.

The Texans QB is T.J. Yates, a virtual unknown from the University of North Carolina. Why is he playing? Because Matt Schaub injured his foot and Matt Leinart broke his collarbone. That makes Yates the third string quarterback. His play has been strong under the circumstances, but no one expects him to go very far.

The Bengals QB, on the other hand, is Andy Dalton, a 2nd round draft pick in 2011 who was chosen to replace long time Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer. Palmer had lost his Ohio mojo and wasn’t en route to get it back. Palmer left for Oakland (and failed to help them reach the playoffs), Dalton signed a $5 million dollar contract, and Cincinnati has been singing the praises of their star redhead ever since.

That’s right. He’s a redhead. And with a win on Saturday, Rookie of the Year might not seem so farfetched, especially since all the talk has been about Cam Newton, who failed to lead his team to a winning season.

While this is still just a battle of rookie quarterbacks, most fans know that on any given Sunday (ahem, Saturday), someone’s gonna win and someone’s gonna lose. Could a rookie quarterback make it all the way to the Super Bowl? Crazier things have happened. Anyone remember when Big Ben was a rookie in Pittsburgh? Or when Tom Brady showed up out of nowhere in New England to replace an injured Drew Bledsoe? Both men went on to win multiple championships and continue playing at the highest levels today.

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