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Red Zone Play: And... We’re Back!

Stop what you’re doing and savor this moment of Houston sports fandom.

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texan Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images


It’s been far too long since Houston has seen a football game like that one. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1990, when the Houston Oilers destroyed the Cleveland Browns 58-14, to find a game that matches what we witnessed at NRG Stadium two days ago.

The Oilers’ previous scoring record was 56, set in 1962.

Hang onto this one, Texans fans. If history is any indicator, it’s going to be a long time before we see a fifty-burger dropped on an opponent again.

Nevertheless, hopefully it’s not a long time before we see Bill O’Brien pull in what works for Deshaun Watson, mix it with his particular brand of offense, and let it rip.

While the Texans have to turn the corner immediately and prepare for this weekend’s game against the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs, we can revel in frozen time.

Watson put himself in the record books alongside NFL legends Fran Tarkenton and Gayle Sayers. 25-34 for 283 yards, four touchdowns, and one pick. Oh, and four carries for 24 yards and another touchdown.

Andre Hal made his case for my preseason prediction that he would be the Texans’ 2017 breakout player of the year. One solo tackle, three assists, and two key interceptions.

DeAndre Hopkins was once again a favorite target of Watson’s - EVERYONE knew that, and yet Nuk still managed to catch 10 balls for 107 yards and a touchdown.

Jadeveon Clowney once again proved he’s a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen. Two solo tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble.

An undrafted rookie named Dylan Cole snatched a ball and made himself famous. Three solo tackles, two assists, a sack, a pick and, oh yeah, that pick got returned to the house.

Another rookie, Chris Thompson, just brought up from the practice squad the day before, had one of the most electric kick returns in the Bill O’Brien era. 42 yards right up the gut.

J.J. Watt continued to disrupt opposing offenses. He spent the day fighting off double teams, holding penalties and cheap shots that weren’t called, taking attention away from guys like Benardrick McKinney, D.J. Reader and Whitney Mercilus.

Mike Vrabel dialed up a defense that totally shut down one of the most feared running attacks in the league. Titans’ running backs combined for a total of 47 yards…

Oh, and Houston won by 43 points.

The best part of it all? This gives notice of what this team has under the hood and inside their heart.

After coming mere inches from doing the unthinkable – beating Bill Belichick at home with a rookie QB – Houston responded by utterly destroying a division rival. The old Texans would have fallen off after playing their hearts out in New England last week. Not this crew. Not only did they respond, they put up the biggest win in AFC South history and the biggest win in Houston Texan’s history.

For Deshaun Watson, this game puts him in rarified air. Names like Bo Jackson, Randy Moss, Earl Campbell, Jerry Rice and Tony Dorsett all come up when you talk about the greatest rookie performance in NFL history. If Watson never plays another down, he’ll forever be in that conversation.

Just as he’s won at every level he’s played in, Watson is on a collision course with championship greatness. Having guys like J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and others around him certainly can’t hurt his cause.

Watson’s performance not withstanding, this was still a complete Texans effort.

This is the kind of total team win - where every player is being the best teammate they can be - that elevates an organization into the Red Zone.

This is the kind of win that screams #HoustonStrong.

This is the kind of win that ignites a fan base.

This is the kind of win that’s a lot like a total solar eclipse - a lot of people have heard about it, but very few have actually witnessed one. They don’t come around very often.

Between the Houston Astros’ record breaking season that now extends into the playoffs and this utter annihilation of the team-that-once-betrayed-H-Town, it’s a great time to be a Houston sports fan.

Enjoy it.