If the adrenaline hasn’t worn off yet, don’t worry you aren’t the only one. The Houston Texans dominant performance over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday will go down as one of the most rewarding, triumphant, and gratifying games in franchise history. Now only did the team dominate all three phases of the game, the crowd gave a performance that made NRG stadium as deafening as it’s ever been. The true Houston Texans dream was experienced this past weekend and fortunately fans don’t need to wake up because it’s real and they’re living in it.
The HOUSTON TEXANS JUST DOMINATED THE BROWNS TO A PLAYOFF VICTORY. The groupthink question of the week is if that was the best, most dominant, and complete win in franchise history? Does it beat the 31-10 victory against the Bengals in 2011?
I think so! I mean, the Browns scored in the beginning of the second quarter, and it was basically all Texans from that point on. Big passes, big penalties going our way, two pick sixes in a row??? Has that ever even happened before?? That 2011 Bengals victory was a sight to behold, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a complete game. They even had their backups in at the end!
Recency bias is a thing. One of the things we have to remember is that the 2011 game was with T.J. Yates at the helm. That contest was in doubt well into the second half. It also included J.J. Watt’s coming out party. That was the team’s first playoff victory, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. This one is special because it crushed any number of narratives coming into the game. I’m sure even most Houston fans expected a Browns win or at least a nail biter like most of the games this year. It’s hard right now to be objective about what we are watching. Our hot take culture seems to demand superlatives and hyperbole. Both this team and the 2011 bunch is playing with house money yet I have more belief in this group because of C.J. Stroud. When you have a quarterback anything is possible. To be fair, every remaining opponent through a possible final game has one of those guys too. There are no more Joe Flaccos left. We are in with the big boys now.
By margin of victory, sure. This is the most dominant of playoff victories for the Texans. Yet, was this any more complete than 2011-2 Wild Card against the Bengals or the 2016 Wild Card beating of the Raiders? We can have that debate. In particular, the 2016-7 Raiders matchup, aside from some early back and forth, was never really in doubt. Conner Cook was not going to really beat that Houston team, even with Brock Osweiler as the Houston starter. The final of that one was 27-14, but the score does not reflect how much more dominant Houston was than the then-Oakland Raiders. Perhaps because of the supposed quality of the Houston opponent, this one rates higher on the scale of most dominant. Granted, many felt that the 2011-2 Bengals could win that matchup as well. A game where the offense ruled the 1st half, and the Texans defense won the 3rd quarter is not exactly how we all that one playing out. Not complaining though. Now, can Houston do something they’ve never done and win the Divisional round? That’s the next challenge.
L4blitzer has a similar sentiment, but I think this game was more complete than the first two Wild Card victories over the Bengals. Two defensive touchdowns, a near perfect game by your QB, and an other-worldly performance by your second-year corner lead to an insurmountable lead that Houston was able to coast on for the rest of the game. This performance set unique, special, and culturally different. In the past Bill O’Brien era, the Texans never put teams away. This offense was ruthless and aggressive the entire game. There was a poignant assertiveness that the offensive play calling had which felt completely different than any other Texans performance.
Sure, the points and difference in score between this and the 2011 game make for a lopsided comparison, but if you ask people at the game, they’ll tell you that the game this past weekend felt like a multi-year reward for their enduring support. That level of gratification is hard to come by. I’m happy for the team, but more happy for the city of Houston.