HOUSTON Andy Dalton and T.J. Yates weren't around for any of the miserable seasons the Bengals and Texans have had over the past two decades.
And that's quite a few.
The rookie quarterbacks now control the fates of which long-suffering franchise gets a milestone victory when the teams open the playoffs on Saturday. They'll make some NFL history no matter who wins - it's the first time two rookie starters will face off in a postseason game.
"It shows how much the game has changed in these days," said Yates, who'll make his sixth career start. "My situation is obviously a lot different than Andy's. He was drafted there to be the starter and unfortunate circumstances here in Houston led to me being the one playing.
"But you've just got to take advantage of every opportunity you get," he said, "and it's pretty cool to be a part of it."
The Bengals (9-7) are back in the postseason for the third time in seven seasons, but they haven't advanced in 20 years. The 10-year-old Texans (10-6) are making their postseason debut, and will end the longest playoff drought of any expansion team from its inception into the league.
Cincinnati's last playoff victory came against Houston, albeit the Oilers, a 41-14 victory at Riverfront Stadium. The Bengals lost to the L.A. Raiders the following week, and they've lost two playoff games at home since.
The city of Houston has waited 18 years to even see the local team play in a postseason game. The Oilers' last playoff appearance followed the 1993 season, a loss to Joe Montana and the Kansas City Chiefs.
The land where Reliant Stadium now stands was just a parking lot back then, Houston coach Gary Kubiak was an assistant at Texas A&M and Yates was 6 years old.
"Just to think of how far we've come and to be working this week," Kubiak said, "be putting in a game plan and going in those meetings and getting ready to line up, that's what we came here to do, so let's go do it. We're looking forward to it."
Andre Johnson may be as eager as anyone.
The star receiver and face of the Houston franchise has languished through the litany of losses since the team drafted him third overall in 2003. He stayed loyal to the Texans, though, signing a contract extension in August 2010 that will keep him here through the 2016 season.
Johnson, hobbled by hamstring injuries most of this season, is healthy again just in time for the most important game of his pro career.
"You know, I always said that I wanted to be a part to help this organization get to their first playoff appearance and hopefully win their first Super Bowl," he said.
And now it's in the hands of two 20-somethings with zero postseason experience. Will it be Dalton, the second-round draft pick who grew up in a Houston suburb? Or Yates, the one-time third-stringer pressed into action after season-ending injuries to Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart?