Back in August, the Houston Texans were proclaimed favorites to win the AFC South. It was a backhanded compliment though because a lot of experts picked us after looking at the rest of the division. The Jaguars were young and rebuilding (and would ditch David Garrard), the Titans had a new coaching staff and quarterback, and the Colts had no Peyton Manning. Even if the Texans were installing a new defense, Houston had the best of the bad situations in the South. We were the best of the worst.
It was this last fact that made some Texans fans a little irked. While some acknowledged injuries were part of the game, many others were already throwing their hands up that Houston would not get any respect for the 2011 season. If the Texans won the AFC South then people would answer back, "Only because Peyton Manning was hurt." It is safe to say that there is no needed disclaimer after the Texans clinched the AFC South with a 20-19 comeback win in Cincinnati.
Texans have been dropping due to injuries all season long. Key special teamers, key rotational players, All-Pro pass rusher, All-Pro receiver, and All-Pro running back, but the team persevered and kept winning. The Pro Bowl quarterback went out and expectations were immediately tempered to being happy with a playoff spot. The next week the season was supposed to be over after Matt Leinart, who was already replacing Matt Schaub, left the team in the hands of a fifth round rookie.
T.J. Yates could not possibly lead the Texans into the playoffs is what some said. He barely managed to guide them to a win over Jacksonville, so how could he beat playoff contending Atlanta and Cincinnati? Two weeks later, we know how. The offensive gurus are giving him a gameplan he can execute and everyone else is rallying around him. After his game-winning six yard touchdown pass to Kevin Walter, Yates is now on the verge of starting the first playoff game in Texans history, and he, like the team he leads, has earned that right.
Everything that Houston has accomplished this season - the franchise-best 10 wins, the franchise-first division championship, the franchise-first playoff game in Reliant Stadium, and whatever else is down the pipeline in store for this team - has all been earned with tons of battlin' and fightin'. All that asterisk talk is long gone and left in its place is a huge sense of pride for this team and its resiliency.
Savor this successful Sunday, Houston fans. After all, the Texans are AFC South champions, and they earned that title.
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