With fifty-six (56) seconds left in the fourth quarter, I was done.
Matt Schaub had just thrown his third interception of the afternoon, effectively driving a stake through my barely beating heart. To be honest, though, Eugene Wilson had ripped that heart from my chest and thrown it against a wall with his absolutely inexplicable and horrifyingly dumb decision to run (instead of simply falling down and winning the game for his team) after pulling in a seemingly game-ending interception . Indeed, I was a shell after Wilson's act of insane idiocy. But when Schaub threw that pick to Andre Goodman...a coroner would have pronounced me legally dead.
I left my seat and headed for the aisle. See, my family's seats are above the sideline where Schaub threw the ball. From my vantage point, it was a clear INT. Not a doubt in my mind. I shuffled toward the door, mumbling something profane and incoherent in response to my dad's attempt to discuss the game. I'd had it. For the first time ever, I questioned my Texans fanaticism. How could I keep devoting so much time, energy, and money to an organization that paid me back like this? The games had ceased being fun. They had become an exercise in embarrassment and/or exquisitely creative methods of agony. I was at my breaking point. And then a funny thing happened on the way to the exit.
I heard a loud cheer as I passed by one of the televisions. I looked up and saw 'Dre make an absurd catch with two (2) defenders trying to pry the ball from him. What had happened? How did we still have the ball? INT call was reversed, I heard; the ball had hit the ground. No matter, I thought. The offense still had more than forty (40) yards to go and only one timeout left. With the way Schaub had been throwing into traffic all day/'Dre's earlier fumble/concerns about clock management and playcalling/images of last week's disaster dancing in my head, I had zero faith that the Texans were going to get the job done. Nevertheless, I stood transfixed in front of that television. And then I saw a thirty (30) yard pass to K-Dub. This wasn't happening. Only eleven (11) yards to glory? No, we'd find a way to screw it up. Eight (8) more yards to 'Dre, and the last timeout burned. At the Miami 3 with sixteen (16) seconds left. This couldn't happen. We're the Texans, for chrissakes. We'll uncork a new, agonizing way to lose. Schaub would get sacked, or Kubes/Shanny The Younger would call a pitch to Slaton that would see him get brought down at the two-yard line. Something would happen to derail this.
Dangerous incomplete pass to Apostrophe Davis. Yikes. Another incomplete pass to 'Dre. One last shot for Schaub. I didn't even notice the middle of the field open up when we sent someone in motion. Hell, I don't think I was breathing at this point. Just standing there, waiting for the other shoe to come crashing to earth. Ball is snapped. Schaub pauses. For just a second. Holy shit...he's running! It's a draw! Schaub jukes. Sweet Mary Mother of God...he's in! Touchdown! Texans win! Texans win! Good God Almighty, Texans win!
Well, not quite. I think I speak for every Texan fan when I say that all of us were waiting for something to happen on the kickoff. Or on Miami's one play from scrimmage. When that Dolphin offensive lineman finally went down and the clock read zero, I didn't know what to do. As Chris wrote here, it still felt like a loss. But it wasn't. It was a win. And you know what? More than a day later, I'm starting to realize it.
And with that realization comes a renewed resolve and a sort of acceptance. Your Houston Texans probably won't make the playoffs. They probably won't post a winning record. They might not win another five (5) games all season. But yesterday, they showed the kind of heart that we can root for. They finished. They didn't roll over. And if they're going to fight like that, so can I. Shame on me for leaving my seat, and shame on me for losing faith.
None of us could have EVER predicted the season shaking out the way it has thus far. It's been disappointing, to say the least, and there are real questions surrounding many key areas of this franchise. Those questions can keep for another few hours. For now, let's just revel in the victory. The players, coaches, and fans earned it.
Back with further observations about the game tomorrow, and then it's time to turn our attention to Detroit.