It just barely wasn’t enough.
At the beginning of this game, it looked like the Titans were gonna run away with it. Ryan Tannehill quickly launched the Titans to a comfortable 21-0 lead by halftime, and a dominant win to secure the #1 seed in the AFC seemed inevitable. It looked like they were going to start rubbing the Texans nose in it once the second half started. But, as with so many games this season, the Texans refused to quit.
As with nearly every game in the second half of this season, the Texans, led by rookie sensation Davis Mills, launched themselves back into contention in tremendous fashion. The third quarter was a feast for the eyes, Mills throwing on his red cape once again, flinging the entire Houston offense downfield to the fleeting legs of Danny Amendola and Rex Burkhead, providing another surprisingly highlight-filled game to the delight of the home crowd.
FLEA-FLICKER PERFECTION— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) January 9, 2022
» @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/F40qmnrZf8
+3 from Ka'THREEmi— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) January 9, 2022
HOU 10 - TEN 21 | 2:14 3Q pic.twitter.com/cxLuTrSEg1
By the fourth quarter, it was time. Mills launched another touchdown pass to Amendola and followed with a clean two-point conversion to make it 21-18 with 11 minutes left. The comeback was on, and Houston was showing the world that it successfully built a serious big-play offense out of spare parts, just like how it did with our defense which has ranked high in turnovers nearly all season long.
All part of the plan— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) January 9, 2022
» @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/78r3GfGJlQ
Inching closer— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) January 9, 2022
» @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/pwb8RQEGmz
It wasn’t pretty, but the Texans were here in the fourth quarter and have everything they need to beat the #1 seed in the conference. But, Ryan Tannehill and Julio Jones wouldn’t be denied.
In his first touchdown grab as a Titan, Julio Jones proved clutch in the fourth quarter once again, and the star power proved to be too much for Lovie Smith’s scrappy defense.
CLUTCH! @juliojones_11— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 9, 2022
: Watch #TENvsHOU on @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/TEkKRHKft4
No problem for Mills, though, who goes straight back to Amendola to nab his third touchdown pass of the game. Davis Mills finished 23-33 for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns, another banner game for the surging rookie quarterback. This is what we needed to stand a chance against the Titans, and Davis Mills, unlike most other rookie quarterbacks of his class, delivered in flying colors.
NO QUIT IN THIS TEAM— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) January 9, 2022
» @NFLonCBS pic.twitter.com/2wMCsHEohf
It truly was a game for the ages.
Unfortunately, it was just, just barely not enough. A calling card for the Texans this year, who have mounted every challenge each passing week, just couldn’t get over the hump to defeat a playoff team.
In the final month of the season, the Texans were one of the hardest outs in the AFC. With a turnover happy defense and an offense that was finally starting to find real rhythm on the ground and in the air, anything felt possible. All of the sudden, it didn’t matter who we had on field. Backups, journeymen, rookies, overpaid starters, old guys, or whatever expletive you called them on Sundays, it suddenly didn’t matter who they were, because they were competing. Winning. Davis Mills, once the destitute rookie with nothing around him, now the story of December. Rex Burkhead, one of the most questionable signings of an odd offseason, now an essential part of the rushing attack. Danny Amendola, yes, that Danny Amendola, was now slicing through opposing defenses like he made a habit of in Foxborough years ago. It was’t pretty, but the Texans had rallied around these spare parts and become a team to reckon with as the gates of 2021 closed. This time around, it sadly just wasn’t enough to get that last victory.
But, despite that, the Texans had delivered exactly on what I was looking for in the preseason: an exciting, scrappy football team with a lot of upside. This team has found themselves, found a quarterback, and found a coaching staff. The Texans were ridiculously fun to watch this year, always the underdog and almost always better than expected. They’ve got me beyond excited to see what they have in store for 2022, and, always acquiescing to the fan within, is there anything more I can ask for than the future?
The Texans finish this year 4-13. They are currently in possession of the third overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. See you then!
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