When you’re a Houston Texans fan, there is an unspoken understanding that nothing can or ever will be normal during a game; and if it is, it’s usually a trap somehow. And certainly today’s game was no different.
The Texans, in Lovie Smith’s debut as head coach and with the Uvalde High School football team in attendance, chose to play one of the strangest games of football I’ve ever seen.
It was like if you took the myth of Icarus and put it in football form and modified the ending.
If you’re not familiar with Icarus, here’s the really short version:
Icarus and his father Daedalus are stuck in a prison on an island with no means of escape. Daedalus, an inventor, creates two sets of fully functioning wings out of feathers and wax for him and his son to fly out. Before they leave, Daedalus warns Icarus not to fly too close to the sun because it’ll melt the wax holding his wings together.
They escape and Icarus, enjoying his freedom, flies higher and higher in the sky and closer to the sun. His wings melt and he falls into the sea (now called the Icarian Sea) and drowns.
We start off with the Colts getting the ball and scoring a field goal from the Texans’ 27.
Icarus at this point is still in prison and contemplating another dreary day of being held captive.
Then the Texans punched back with another field goal, tying the game, at the Colts’ 27.
Icarus’ father gives him the wings.
On the next Colts drive, Jerry Hughes reached up and plucked the ball out of the air, like he just found an apple in a tree, and returned it 14 yards to the Texans 42. The Texans would then drive the length of the field with a 58-yard touchdown drive, capped off with a 16-yard OJ Howard reception; his first of two touchdowns on the day.
Icarus and Daedalus fly and leave the prison.
That was all the scoring in the first half, where the Texans led 10-3. In the Texans’ first possession of the second half, the Texans drove down the field and got another field goal.
Here, Icarus, still a little uneasy about flying in the sky like a bird, decides to test his wings’ limits. You get the sense that this feels unfamiliar and strange, but it’s working so Icarus doesn’t think about it and simply enjoys his freedom.
The Colts start threatening again, only for Matt Ryan, whose mind was probably on the salisbury steak waiting for him at the VFW’s early bird special, fumbled the ball which was recovered by Christian Kirksey. The Texans would take the ball and complete another 58-yard touchdown drive, capped again by an OJ Howard touchdown reception for 22 yards.
The Texans went into the fourth quarter up 20-3 against a sputtering Colts passing game and Jonathan Taylor pummeling the defense to the tune of 161 yards rushing on 31 carries, good for a brutal 5.5 average YPC (for context, the Texans entire rushing effort today netted 77 total yards on 28 carries for 2.8 average YPCs).
And then came the fourth quarter...
Icarus flies higher up toward the sun.
It seemed like the Texans might keep a lid on it at first. The Colts’ first drive of the quarter only resulted in a 27-yard field goal. But that’s fine, the defense is better and the offense will just grind...the...clock...
Then Davis Mills fumbled the ball deep in Texans territory. The Colts recovered. Whatever sense of relief or confidence Texans fans had vanished with an audible “pop.”
And the Colts force fed Jonathan Taylor down the Texans’ throats. Four plays later, the Colts’ deficit was down to seven.
The wings feel less secure. Icarus watches a few feathers flutter back down to Earth. Suddenly, he’s not gaining altitude despite trying to fly higher. Something is very wrong.
The Texans offense couldn’t click at all after that. It took all of five plays for the Texans to give the ball back with 4:39 left to play.
More feathers fall off. Icarus is losing altitude and fast. He tries flapping his wings even harder, which only leads to more feathers falling off. The water is growing closer and closer.
Jonathan Taylor willed his way into the end zone and tied the game up 20-20.
Icarus is in uncontrolled freefall head first toward the water.
Then we got overtime. The Colts took the ball to start and drove 13 plays down to the Texans 24. Blankenship attempted a 42-yard field goal, which is typically nothing more than a chip shot for him, and missed wide right.
[Ed. Note: Here’s where the myth takes a turn away from the original story where Icarus just falls into the sea and drowns. So humor me.]
Icarus does a front flip so he’s now falling feet-first to the sea.
The Texans then briefly got the ball back, did nothing with it, and punted it on the Colts’ 49.
Icarus kicks his feet forward as if he’s slamming on imaginary brakes.
The Colts ran out the clock ending the game with the first tie in Texans history.
Icarus comes to a screeching halt a foot above the water like a Bugs Bunny cartoon and freezes in place.
And that’s how the story ends, Icarus doesn’t die in the end but he’s not really alive either. He’s just kind of there. Same thing with the Texans. They got ahead then got gashed by Jonathan Taylor to blow the lead and went on to neither win nor lose.
We Need To Talk About...
Matt Ryan - He looked terrible, didn’t he? He was inaccurate, fumbled the ball, he looked flat out confused. It makes me wonder if the Colts are even more of a paper tiger than I initially thought. It makes me wonder even more if Matt Ryan is completely done as an NFL quarterback and the Colts will be the last to learn this.
Jeff Driskel - Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why did he get not one, but two (2!) snaps in today’s game? And for what? One was a handoff to Pierce and the other was a run. Do the Texans think Jeff Driskel is going to be our version of Taysom Hill?
Rex Burkhead - How did Burkhead get more carries than Pierce? Didn’t Pierce pretty much win the RB1 job outright during the preseason? But instead we got basically a near even split? I’m not saying that if Pierce had gotten more snaps the Texans would’ve won. The near even number of carries and yards debunks that idea. My point is that if Pierce did such a great job in camp and in preseason why isn’t he the lead guy?
Derek Stingley Jr. -
Derek Stingley Jr. as nearest defender so far today: 1 reception allowed for 17 yards on 2 targets over 34 coverage snaps.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) September 11, 2022
[Ed. Note: This tweet was sent in the fourth quarter.]
Granted the Colts passing game looked really sloppy but this is still pretty dang impressive.
So What Did We Learn Today?
We learned that the offense is still going to be heavily reliant on the accuracy of Davis Mills’ arm.
We learned that a tie can be beautiful in its own twisted, knotty, little way.
We learned that the Colts are significantly worse than people thought they might be.
But most of all, we learned that the Houston Texans remain undefeated after one game!
We will see you in Denver*.
*Not really going to be in Denver. But the Texans will be. And since we’re all Texans that means a little piece of us will be in Denver too. That’s kind of beautiful.