Part of what makes being a Texans fan so cool is that there isn't a whole lot of history to thumb through. As loyal fans of this team, we get to be the trailblazers; we're the one making the memories that will be passed on to our uninterested grandchildren. And for many fans, the best memories are created under the gaze of the nation, humming along to the iconic theme of Monday Night Football.
When I set out to run through all of the Texans' appearances that night, I thankfully didn't have to sort through decades' worth of games to find them (for example: the Pittsburgh Steelers' have played 43 of them in their 70+ year history). It's not so bad being the league's youngest franchise.
Without further ado, here are all seven of the Houston Texans' performances on Monday Night Football, ranked... chronologically.
December 1, 2008
Jacksonville Jaguars 17, Houston Texans 30
Yep, the Texans were forced to wait six years before earning the privilege of playing on MNF. This is not a bad thing, as they had gone 32-64 in that time. A then-franchise best 8-8 record the year before had convinced the NFL to finally grant them their first appearance. They were rewarded with the softest of soft balls imaginable in a showdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In further proof that history constantly repeats itself, it was a RB and DE carrying the Texans back in 2008. Rookie Steve Slaton gashed the Jaguars for 130 yards rushing, 56 yards receiving and two scores. Sage Rosenfels managed a game that Ryan Fitzpatrick would be proud of, throwing for 220 yards, a touchdown and a pick.
On the other side of the ball, Mario Williams was a force against what seems to be a perennially porous Jaguars offensive line. Mario sacked David Garrard three times and forced a back-breaking, 4th quarter fumble. Even Jacques Reeves (listed here as one of the worst free agent signings in Texans history) had an interception.
November 23, 2009
Tennessee Titans 20, Houston Texans 17
The following year saw the Texans welcome Vince Young and the Gang to Houston. Did you know that Vince Young is undefeated against his hometown Texans? If I'm reading his career page correctly, Young has not lost a start against them. Excuse me while I go try to feed a stray cat into an ATM machine, American Psycho style.
This game qualifies as one of those. Young had a forgettable day passing but torched the Texans on the ground for 73 yards on 11 attempts. Chris Johnson ran for 151 yards of his own en route to his 2,000 yard season.
Despite all this, Matt Schaub kept the Texans in the game, throwing for 305 yards and two scores. But it wasn't meant to be. Kris Brown, the last original Texan, missed two field goals, including a last-second attempt to force overtime. The 2009 season was full of games like this for Brown, and he was summarily dismissed at the end of the campaign.
The bitter loss was the second of four division losses in a row (@IND, TEN, IND, @JAX), effectively torpedoing the Texans' chances at a division title, despite their first-ever winning record (9-7) that year.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Houston Texans 17, Indianapolis Colts 30
The Texans were coming off their bye week, sitting pretty at 4-2. Surely the extra week of preparation would finally help them win in Indianapolis? Negative.
Arian Foster and Andre Johnson each contributed 100 yard, one touchdown efforts, but the defense had absolutely no answer for Peyton Manning early in the game. The Texans were down 24-3 early in the third quarter and wouldn't come close to closing the gap.
The losing streak to the Colts in Indianapolis went unbroken and shall remain unbroken past our lifetimes, people.
December 13, 2010
Baltimore Ravens 34, Houston Texans 28
Playoff hopes now fully in a vegetative state, the Texans hosted the Baltimore Ravens. In true Texans fashion, Schaub would lead a thrilling comeback to force overtime, only to immediately hand the game back to them with a brain-melting pick-six.
After being down 28-7 early in the third, the Texans would go on to score 21 unanswered points, including one of Andre Johnson's more impressive touchdowns to set up a game-tying Jacoby Jones 2-point conversion.
Because I know you care, Andre's nine catches, 140 yards and two touchdowns fueled a furious, 30-point fantasy league comeback for your boy Corzo.
October 8, 2012
Houston Texans 23, New York Jets 17
Go back and watch this game and witness a defensive end single-handedly win a game for a team. J.J. Watt was halfway through a historic season. Watt deflected three passes, and two of them were deep in the Texans' red zone. Mark Sanchez had a receiver wide open on a slant route and Watt denied access. Another swatted red zone pass led to a Brice McCain 86-yard interception return. Watt's third deflected pass came on the Jets' desperation fourth down effort to tie the game deep within their own territory. Watt's lone sack knocked the Jets out of field goal range, too. By my count, that's 17 points taken off the board.
We're not worthy.
Oh, and Foster's 152 yards helped too.
On a much more depressing note, this was also the game that Matt Slauson ended Brian Cushing's season.
December 10, 2012
Houston Texans 14, New England Patriots 42
... and it wasn't even that close. A T.J. Yates goalline sneak brought the team within four scores with two minutes left to go in the game.
This is one of the games that caused the Texans a severe case of Patriot-envy. Both teams ended with a 12-4 record, but only one of them actually felt like a serious playoff team. The two squads would meet in the divisional round a few weeks later, and while the Texans put up a better fight, they never threatened to win it.
September 9, 2013
Houston Texans 31, San Diego Chargers 28
The Texans were given the honor of opening the season as the very last game on the schedule in a MNF doubleheader. Like they are wont to do, the Texans crawled into and then out of a 21-point hole, capped off by a Brian Cushing pick-six and a Randy Bullock go-ahead field goal.
It was a cruel game because it was so damn exciting watching them successfully pull out the comeback on primtime... but it so cleverly masked all the issues that would arise during that abysmal season.
In a bit of foreshadowing that would make George R.R. Martin's pants tighten, Schaub's very first pass attempt of the 2013 season was an interception. And of course, his very last attempt was, too.
Context is everything, and I hope this helped. The Texans have the chance to go even in their all-time MNF record, but the importance goes beyond that. If they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Texans are competing with the Cleveland Browns (what?!), San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs for a wildcard spot. If they lose, we're rubbing elbows with the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills. No one wants to rub elbows with the f***ing Titans and Bills.
But hey with a win, even a division title isn't out of the question. A victory at Indy woul-- hahahahaha!
Do you agree with my rankings? Where did I go wrong? How much weight do you put on this matchup? Sound off, readers.
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