To any other fanbase, last night's overtime loss to the Ravens would qualify as an outlier. Storming back from 21 points down to force overtime, only to lose in gut-wrenching fashion on a pick-six? That's the kind of stuff that doesn't happen every week. To most teams, anyway.
To the 2010 Houston Texans and their fans? Just another
Sunday Monday night at the office. Join me after the jump as I wax philosophical about last night's experience at Reliant Stadium.
1. Line Of The Season Thus Far: My buddy Neil, at LoneSpot's typically fantastic tailgate, as the roof begins to close due to the absurd 50/80 rule: "Looks like it's gonna be a closed casket funeral tonight, boys."
2. Due to another friend's connections, I was able to get down on the field during pre-game warmups. Aside from the constant reminder that NFL players are not of this planet (e.g., Andre Johnson's calves are bigger than my thighs), the thing that really stuck out to me was John Harbaugh. When he ran onto the field during warmups, he was clapping, waving to the Ravens fans who were calling his name, and just generally looked like he would not rather be anywhere else in the world. As he left the field to go to the locker room when warmups ended, Harbaugh was smiling and told the Ravens and Texans fans who were standing by the tunnel, "Enjoy this!" That really resonated with me, particularly because you rarely (never?) see Gary Kubiak express that kind of positive emotion. That's not to say Harbaugh's way is right and Kubes' way is wrong; it's simply a contrast that stuck with me.
3. We can all say a whole lot of negative things about the Texans, but say this: They never quit. Ever. It would've been easy (and despicable) for them to fold, especially after David Reed's 103 yard kickoff return to open the second half. They didn't. They kept playing. They fought. That's commendable.
4. Then again, what does it say about the state of professional sports that we commend athletes for doing what they're paid to do? "Hey, fellas...way to not roll over! Way to earn that paycheck! Way to play to the final whistle! Way to do what we tell every amateur athlete to do! Way to not be the Dallas Cowboys (or Tennessee Titans, or Minnesota Vikings, or whatever team you want to cite for quitting on their season and/or coach)!"
5. Absurdity of the thanks-for-not-quitting mindset aside, it is refreshing to support a team that fights to the end. Sure, they may not actually start fighting until the second half, but you get what I'm saying.
6. I don't know that I remember a game where the Texans had so many catchable balls dropped. Owen Daniels and Jacoby Jones were repeat offenders, though each had huge receptions in the second half that made the comeback possible.
7. Given the game-ending interception Matt Schaub threw last night, I've noticed a few people have taken to focusing their heat on him. While Schaub did make the decision/play that ended the game, the Texans wouldn't have been in the position to win the game without him. Matt Schaub is not on the Tom Brady/Peyton Manning/Drew Brees level of NFL QBs. He's on the level below that. And that's plenty good enough to win games in the NFL. For all of Schaub's issues (e.g., the tendency to underthrow deep routes, the virtually guaranteed terrible throw/interception or two each game, etc.), he is not even on the list, much less high on the list, of things that are wrong with the Houston Texans. Even on an off night that saw him complete only 50% of his passes, Matt Schaub brought his team back from 21 points down against a playoff team. That's pretty strong medicine. Not enshrine-him-in-Canton material, but significantly better than the team's 5-8 record would indicate.
8. I was continually amazed at how much time Schaub had to throw last night. The offensive line may have had its best day/night of the year in pass protection.
9. One of these days, the heavens will open (God will probably have to open the roof at Reliant as well, because you know it'll be closed), and Andre Johnson will ascend to his rightful place at the right hand of God. If you deem that sacrilege, I deem you a heretic.
10. 2010 Arian Foster makes me totally forget about 2008 Steve Slaton. Oddly, I can't erase 2003 Stacey Mack from my memory banks, even with generous helpings of whiskey and paint thinner.
11. I've quietly stewed about the Texans' lackluster special teams play for weeks, but it was never more evident than last night. I can't remember the last big return the Texans sprung, and for reasons beyond my understanding, Steve Slaton is returning kicks again. And the coverage on kickoffs? Abysmal. Although the ongoing train wreck that has been the Texans' defense has spared Joe Marciano from much heat, that's an area the organization has to address in the offseason.
12. The Houston defense yielded a total of 21 points last night. The Houston defense did not surrender a single point in the second half. The Houston defense continually forced Baltimore to punt in the second half, allowing the offense to make up a 21 point deficit. The Houston defense turned in its third quality effort (the others being Indianapolis in Week One and Tennessee in Week 12) of the season. Bravo.
13. Every time he catches a pass, I'm struck anew at how underutilized David Anderson is.
14. Mark Anderson is Houston's third-best defensive lineman, behind only Mario Williams and Antonio Smith.
15. Speaking of Super Mario, he missed some snaps late with that sports hernia. Given what he's played through in the past, I can't even imagine how painful that must have been.
16. The post-game thread got fairly incendiary, and a big reason why seemed to be the notion that this community has gotten too critical of the team and coaching staff (except Frank Bush, who even the stop-all-the-negativity crowd seems to think deserves the vitriol he gets). While I can appreciate the observation that many fans repeating the same complaints can give the appearance of everyone trying to shout over each other, I'd suggest that the perceived negativity is simply the natural result of extreme disappointment with how the season has gone. 2010 was supposed to be the year the Texans finally broke through. That very clearly is not happening. After 13 games, the Texans are 5-8. Yes, they could win their last three games to clinch their fourth straight non-losing season (the Texans' PR Department is welcome to lift that gem if they so desire), but that isn't and shouldn't be good enough. People have every right to be mad about something they put so much time and/or money into not producing. A lack of positivity does not make someone a lesser fan, and expressing that disappointment in this forum is perfectly reasonable, provided they adhere to our singular policy of not personally attacking other members of the community.
17. We'll have plenty of time to discuss whether Gary Kubiak will be back next season in the coming weeks, but I'll go on record and state that barring a finish of 6-10 or worse, I think Kubes is back for another year, albeit with a new defensive coordinator. Ultimately, I think the offense's sustained excellence and the players' affection for Kubes will be enough for Bob McNair to convince himself that one more run is in order.
On to Nashville for another AFC South showdown. If nothing else, root for the Texans to sweep the season series against Bud Adams for the
first second time in franchise history.