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What If Albert Haynesworth Hadn’t Injured Matt Schaub?

Would the Texans have played in, or even won, the Super Bowl that year?

Houston Texans v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
That was Houston’s year.
Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images

When SB Nation asked each of its NFL sites to do a “What If?” post this week, my mind immediately traveled back in time to November 13, 2011. On that date, your Houston Texans won for the seventh time in ten games that season, beating the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay 37-9. During that game, Matt Schaub got hurt when Albert Haynesworth, long a totally classless nemesis of the Texans from his time with the Titans, Schaub at the bottom of a pile.

The next day, we learned that Schaub suffered what was termed “a significant foot injury.” Later that afternoon, Adam Schefter reported that the injury was of the season-ending variety, meaning Matt Leinart would take over as the Texans’ starting quarterback. Schaub didn’t immediately rule himself out for the rest of the season, but things looked bleak. The Texans moved Schaub to Injured Reserve a little more than a week later, officially signaling Leinart would be the team’s starting QB for the rest of the season.

Except that didn’t happen, as Leinart broke his collarbone in the next game in Jacksonville. And so the T.J. Yates Era, which was certainly not without its awesome moments, began.

And yet...

I’ll always wonder how the 2011 season would have ended for your Houston Texans if Albert Haynesworth had not injured Matt Schaub. Although they’d win twelve games in 2012, I don’t think there’s any doubt that 2011 Texans squad was superior. The defense, in Wade Phillips’ first year in Houston, was otherworldly. The offense featured Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, and a two-headed rushing attack of Arian Foster and Ben Tate, along with a stout offensive line. Seven years later, I firmly believe that 2011 team was the best and most talented squad in franchise history.

What if Matt Schaub had played the entire 2011 regular season and subsequent playoff run?

If Schaub hadn’t gotten hurt, do the Texans beat the Ravens in the divisional round of the AFC Playoffs? Do they beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game? Is Gary Kubiak hoisting a Lombardi Trophy after beating the Giants in Indianapolis at the Colts’ home stadium?

What say you?