"We poke a lot of fun at Houston, not because the city is basically Indianapolis plus stifling humidity and oppressive traffic, but because no one ever really took their team seriously. Not that you really should start, because they’re pretty likely to lose their first playoff game. But at least the Texans can start to shake the perception that they might actually be a lazily made user-generated team on Madden. The super generic name never helped."
Kissing Suzy Kolber wrote the above after your Houston Texans clinched the AFC South championship. I could put in the effort and dig around to find other "Texans are bland" and "Texans have no identity" comments, but we all know they are there. I also know I can go around and find a ton of comments and analysis that had the Cincinnati Bengals beating the Texans - how you doing, Charles Barkley?
Today was a monumental moment for a fledgling franchise and city long-waiting for a postseason win. The Houston Texans are no longer a Cinderella looking to make a run at the playoffs. The Texans are no longer a team who has lost three in a row and looks like a one-and-done. Your Houston Texans are a team who have gone and won a playoff game. They have won a playoff game in ten years, which puts them in a similar or better position than Buffalo, Cleveland, or Dallas to name a few franchises. The Texans now have a truly meaningful win on the national stage.
The story on your 2011-12 Houston Texans is not over. There is, at least, one more chapter to be written in Baltimore (and there will be plenty to say in the lead up to that). However, Saturday's win against Cincinnati now exposes that story to many millions of people.
Those people now know that the Texans are a team who have persevered over injuries with a mental toughness and a no-quit-attitude. They saw Houston as a physical bunch who can dominate the line of scrimmage, grind down a defense, and run the ball with little resistance. #Texansd was trending nationwide on Twitter where many Tweeters recognized that Houston's defense was legitimately good as they flew around stifling Cincinnati's offense.
Also trending, aside from the typical big names of Andre and Arian, were guys like Antonio "Ninja Assassin" Smith and J.J. Watt. Their dominant play was praised by millions as they tore through the Cincinnati offensive line. What we have known all season has been exposed to the greater nation at large.
Do you know what else was exposed on Saturday? People know Reliant Stadium (the Bull Pen, the Slaughterhouse, the Bull Ring, whatever you want to call it) can be a scary place to play when the crowd decides to get involved.
I have criticized the Reliant stadiumgoers many times before, but today I say I was wrong. The Rowdy Reliant Fans were a huge part of today and a big help to the team. They roared on defense and cooled it on offense. The fans impacted the game by causing penalties, forcing timeouts,, and shook the cameras early and often to the visible delight of the Texans players. It was a scene that I hope continues moving forward - whether there is a home AFC Championship game in two weeks or a regular season game in eight months. Everyone saw a Houston crowd proud of their Texans and ready to defend its home turf for three-and-a-half hours.
A franchise and fan base found identities on Saturday and can continue to showcase them next Sunday in Baltimore. As a tip of the hat to J.J. Watt, all I can say is: On Texans...to the divisional round!
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