Each year I make the pilgrimage from Austin to Houston to watch somewhere between 3-5 Texans games. My dad's been a season ticket holder since inception and it's one of the ways we still have father/son bonding times these days. Normally after games we end up talking about all the heart-breaking defeats and how the one we just saw stacks up. It's the only tradition we Texans fans have, right? Right now the Rosencopter tops the list but the Jets game in '09 and San Diego last year are high up there as well.
I must say it's been tough driving back to the ATX over the last decade after such bitter defeats going through the games' woulda-shoulda-coulda moments and wishing my team didn't suck so much. Sometimes I was angry with Kubiak, sometimes Carr, sometimes Shaub, Slaton, or once even Andre.
I finally feel like those times might be over. Yesterday's game and drive back were one of the best ever. Jump with me and I'll tell you why.
Before I get to the good stuff though, WTF is up Reliant parking these days? We park in the blue lot and typically arrive around 11:00. Once we got into Reliant yesterday we were immediately directed to the last row of the entire lot even thought there were many closer spots. After my dad nearly tried to run over some orange cones (and possibly a guy or two) we parked and started having our usual sandwiches and beer before the game only to witness utter stupidity as the parking attendants sent cars down our row from BOTH directions only to cause a major cluster-F as the limited number of spots ran out. We were one of the lucky ones who got a spot beforehand. Others had to back out of the row to get redirected somewhere else. Traffic does not flow backward very well when trying to park at a stadium! IDIOTS
Dad always have to have certain items before going into Reliant:
1. Copy of Chronicle section with Pancakes write-up
2. Mini-radio with headphones for Sports 610 listening. (just recently upgraded from cassette walkman)
3.Binoculars for cheerleaders. (Let's not even try to pretend they're for the players)
Once he's checked to make sure he's actually brought the right game's tickets, we're off. BTW enhanced pat-downs for NFL games just means they touch your legs. /whew We also need another chant besides the HOUSTON-TEXANS call and response. It's getting kind of lame at this point. Certainly someone can think of something cooler.
We're in our seats 10 min before kickoff: section 126, visitor's side. Too many terrible towels around us but that's the way it goes. Actually there were a lot of terrible towels everywhere yesterday. Are there really that many Pittsburgh transplants in Houston? Still, I guess it's better than Jets fans screaming J-E-T-S for every f'en first down.
Since we've had these seats for a decade and most people around us have too, you sort of have a relationship with these folks; and that relationship is shared masochism. Two in particular that always stand out are the "young white family" dad, mom and two boys that started coming to games when they must have been around 6 and 4. Now one of them can drive and they've still never seen a playoff game. Woah.
The others are an older retired couple who must be in their mid-70's. I've found my self wondering at times if one or both of them will pass away before the Texans make the playoffs. I know it's morbid but again I AM a Texans fan. They've always been very reserved at games (mostly with good reason), but yesterday I double high-fived both of them repeatedly (sounds dirty but it's not). I relaized we're all starting to come around to a new way of thinking about our Texans!
As you know, the game itself was full of the usual highs and lows. Here's some of our reactions:
Texans came out fast, scored on the opening drive- party time.
We march down again and have to accept a fied goal- a little doubt creeps in.
Andre goes down- completely deathly silent, then "AN-DRE" chanting.
Blocked field goal at half time and touchdown- ecstatic
Called back for BS penalty- doubting again, refs totally suck.
Steelers running all over us in the 3rd- full nail biting mode. Here we go again.
Pterodactyl saves us with a magnificent 42 yd run leaving Polamalu in the dust- OMG, OMG, OMG jumping up and down kissing strangers!
Final pick by Jason Allen- We're actually going to win this one!
Reliant was LOUD. When Big Ben was stuck at the 1 yd line late in the 4th you it was ROCK-ING, maybe the loudest I've ever heard it. You know what else was nice, all the Steelers fans shut up for most of the game.
Just a great experience overall. Almost on cue as we're walking through the gates to get back out of the stadium there's a Steelers fan shouting "blah blah blah 6 Lombardis, blah blah blah talk to me when you've been to the playoffs" ---Desperation---. Oh the sweet sweet bitterness of other spurned fans.
Dad and I had a beer on the tailgate afterwards and talked about this being one of the best wins we've seen. Right up there with the 1st ever Colts beating.
On the way home I reflected on all the good things the Texans did today. How I felt - what was that, yes---CONFIDENCE that they could actually pull some games out this year, and that despite some stupid coaching mistakes (bomb to Jacoby on 3rd and a yd in the 4th anyone?) and Andre's injury I still didn't feel too worried. Last year we could hang wiith teams. This year we can dominate them. Don't prove me wrong Texans. Bring on Oakland!