Dear Diary: Somebody Save the Houston Texans from Themselves

Any time Vince comes to town, it’s a special occasion. And what better way to commemorate the occasion than by breaking out the best gimmick in sports journalism? That’s right, it’s time for the first running diary of the regular season! Let’s get started.

10:35 AM: Welcome to the second annual Vince Young Love-in! But ummm, there’s just one problem: Vince isn’t starting. The news broke about an hour ago, no doubt breaking the hearts of the hundreds of fans who wore their VY jerseys to the game; and that’s just here in the press box. Okay, that’s a bit of a lie. But don’t you get the feeling most of the sports writers here in town would be sporting their favorite #10 jersey if they could?

11:05 AM: Speak of the devil, Vince just jogged onto the field for his pre-game work-out, prompting an eruption of cheers and applause from the crowd; kind of shocking when one considers the stadium is only about two percent full right now.

11:07 AM: VY looks like he’s moving around pretty well to me. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to get on the field today. None whatsoever.

11:08 AM: The fawning begins. From the very objective writer beside me: “Look at Vince wave to the fans,” he gushes. “That’s so cool.”

But wait there’s more: “I can get over anything, but I just can’t get over him wearing that uniform. He belongs here.”

And just in case you haven’t vomited yet: “I wonder if Kubiak being an Aggie had anything to do with it.” Fifty minutes before kick-off and the only thing we’re missing is a reference to Young’s rumored ability to raise the dead.

11:15 AM: Mario Williams just made his entrance. No gushing. No applause. I know you’re shocked.

11:55 AM: I feel bad for the Texans. I really do. The players just emerged from the tunnel for the pre-game introductions only to be greeted – yet again -- by another half-empty stadium. The guys are doing their best to act pumped up as they run onto the field, but you can tell their hearts just aren’t into it. And why would they be? This is the biggest game of the year, yet Reliant has all the atmosphere of a pre-season tilt against TSU. I know I harp on this every home game, but come on, Houston, this is football country! Would it kill you to get your asses in your seats ten minutes before kick-off?

12:01 PM: The jumbotron just showed a video sequence which included a virtual Vince getting run over by a gigantic bull. Ballsy move by the Texans staff. The Gods do not respond favorably to such blasphemy.

12:06 PM: Rob Bironas just drills a 52 yard field goal with ease. What is this, Mile High Stadium? Considering all the 50+ yard figgies we’ve seen here the last two games, that’s the only explanation I can come up with.

12:08 PM: Gotta give the Texans brass some credit: Jacoby Jones was a great pick by GM Rick Smith. He’s one of the few players on the team who demonstrates some swagger and a flair for the moment. Right now, he’s getting the dormant Texan fans pumped by bouncing around in the endzone while he awaits his chance to return the kick. I’m not asking for Terrell Owens-esque histrionics, but a little fun and passion is needed around here. By the way, the stands are still ridiculously empty.

12:13 PM: Wouldn’t you know it, Jones just coughed up the football. Looked like he was down to me, but apparently God just added an 11th commandment which reads: “Thou shall not win challenges if your name is Gary Kubiak.”

12:19 PM: Matt Schaub is getting the David Carr treatment right now. The Titans are knocking him to the turf on every down. Hard.

12:21 PM: I just had a thought: What would be worse for the Texans? Losing to a Tennessee team with Vince, or without?

12:22 PM: Wow! DeMeco Ryans just delivered a thunderbolt to the middle of Kerry Collins’ chest, then had the wherewithal to pick up the loose ball and scamper in for a touchdown. Reliant Stadium is finally showing a pulse and the Texans take the lead! Good to see DeMeco make that play since he’s coming off the worst two-game stretch of his young career.

12:26 PM: What do you know, a stadium full of screaming fans actually helps the home team after all. Who knew? A pumped up Mario Williams just obliterated LenDale White.

12:27 PM: Now Kerry Collins is getting the Carr treatment. If you ask me, this is all a set-up by the Titans as they set the stage for VY to come in and save the day in the second half. You know it’s happening.

12:31 PM: After getting murdered by 368 screen passes over the last few weeks, the Texans try one of their own for a modest gain. I think the Texans staff is shocked the team didn’t pick up 30 yards on the play since that’s what happens every time opponents run it.

12:33 PM: A hush falls over the press box as Matt Schaub crumples to the ground holding his left leg. As solid as Sage Rosenfels has been in relief, I still think a Schaub injury would spell curtains for the Texans season.

12:34 PM: On cue, Rosenfels throws a pick on his first play from scrimmage. To be fair, the refs ignored what appeared to be a blatant case of defensive pass interference. The teams have now combined for four turnovers in the first ten minutes. Even the sportswriters binge-eating at the Texans all-you-can-eat buffet aren’t this sloppy.

12:43 PM: Matt Schaub has just gone back to the locker room for an x-ray on his ankle. His return is questionable. You can almost hear the entire nation holding its breath.

12:57 PM: Schaub returns to the game. Half the fans groan because they were secretly hoping the Texans had traded for Vince between the first and second quarter.

1:03 PM: I just realized why there are so many empty seats at Reliant today. This game is pretty boring and the Texans aren’t very good. Not really a recipe for a full house. Meanwhile, New England fans are enjoying another spectacular performance from the Pats while they await this evening’s ALCS Game 7 at Fenway. I hate Bostonians right now.

1:07 PM: I know you’re never going to believe this, but Petey Faggins just got flagged for pass interference. The VY-less Titans are about to take a 16-7 lead.

1:13 PM: Five minutes left in the second quarter and the Texans have generated a whopping 13 yards of total offense. Here come the boo birds. Are we just destined to watch the same atrocious football year after year? I feel like the guy in Clockwork Orange whose eyes are forced open while he’s repeatedly subjected to scenes of graphic violence and human depravity. That week-two win over Carolina seems like something that happened in another lifetime. I’m embarrassed to admit I ever wrote this.

1:27 PM: Schaub gets rocked again, this time courtesy of Albert Haynesworth. The play draws a 15 yard penalty, meaning it’s the best thing the Texans offense has done all day. It should also be noted the penalty was a pretty bogus call. Looked like a good clean hit to me.

1:30 PM: In comes Rosenfels, and once again he turns the ball over on his first snap. Unbelievable. Come back, David Carr! All is forgiven. But would you mind leaving the white gloves behind in Carolina?

1:34 PM: The Titans take a 22-7 lead into halftime. Way to rise to the challenge, Texans. When does the Rockets season start?

1:38 PM: Just ran into Texans play-by-play Marc Vandermeer in the men’s restroom. He looked like he was wondering if the Miami Hurricanes would give him his old job back. Poor guy. As the biggest Texans homer on the planet, this game must be absolutely killing him.

1:52 PM: Rosenfels gets the second half off to a rousing start by throwing another interception. For those who couldn’t figure out why Sage never unseated Carr as the starter last year, now you know. Tom Brady he’s not.

2:10 PM: Wow. I’m at a complete loss for words right now. What’s worse: Watching this Texans train wreck, or a Jason Jennings start at Minute Maid Park? Being a Houston sports fan blows right now.

2:13 PM: Tennessee just made it 32-7. Fans are streaming toward the exits. No wonder Vince didn’t play this week. His team had a bye.

2:26 PM

: Touchdown Texans! The crowd goes wild. And by “wild” I mean semi-comatose. And by “crowd” I mean a couple dozen confused spectators who mistakenly believed Hannah Montana was performing here today. But other than that, it really feels like it’s rockin’ in here.

2:35 PM: This seems like a good time to mention I watched an NFL Films special this week on the biggest choke-job in NFL history, also known as the Oilers-Bills wild card game in ’93. I bring this up not because I think the Texans have a chance to recreate that historic moment, but because I’m actually finding myself yearning for those days. As painful as they were, at least it was fun to care about and cheer on a playoff team, however un-clutch and underachieving it was.

2:45 PM: Hello. What have we here? The Texans just capped off a 98 yard drive with another touchdown. I know what you’re thinking. Stop it. Get it out of your mind right now. It’s not going to happen.

2:51 PM: Good golly. Another three and out from Tennessee. This is starting to get interesting. The five fans left in Reliant are feeling frisky.

2:52 PM: And David Anderson just muffed the punt. Do these guys get off on torturing their fan base? Of course, that question presumes the Texans still have a fan base.

2:55 PM: There’s the hat trick for Rosenfels. Sage just threw pick number three, pretty much putting the wraps on any hopes of a miracle finish. What a disastrous day. No Vince. No win. No hope.

3:13 PM: This game is getting more bizarre by the minute. The Texans just scored again, making it 35-29 with 1:37 to go. So to sum up: despite losing their starting quarterback, turning the ball over six times and dropping a deuce on the field for three quarters, Houston still has a chance to emerge victorious. Unbelievable. The Texans have no business being in this game.

3:16 PM: Of course. It couldn’t end any more appropriately. After getting everyone riled up by recovering a picture perfect onside kick, the play gets wiped out by an offsides penalty on the Texans. This has to be the most masochistic team in the NFL.

3:18 PM: Are you kidding me?!!?!?!?!?!?! The Texans just recovered another onside kick! And this one actually counts!

3:21 PM: Touchdown Andre Davis!!!!!! This can’t be happening. What a catch!!! The Texans absolutely, positively do not deserve to win this game. And yet, here they are, evoking images of Orchard Park in ’93, with 29 (29!?!?!) fourth quarter points. Somebody better go check on Vandermeer. Dude must be needing a defibrillator right about now.

3:24 PM: How fitting would it be if VY came in for this final drive to rally his team to another improbable victory at Reliant Stadium? In this game, anything’s possible.

3:26 PM: I can’t get over how freakishly bizarre this game has been. The stands are practically bare, yet the brave souls remaining are screaming their lungs out. Also, I feel the need to remind you I’m writing this live. I swear I didn’t go back after the fact and insert the Bills-Oilers reference. I promise.

3:27 PM: Why do I get the feeling the Texans are still going to lose this game? I know it’s Kerry Collins back there, but still, I’m worried.

3:29 PM: And there it is. Give credit where it’s due. Great throw by Collins and a phenomenal catch by Roydell Williams. Poor Dunta Robinson. The Texans’ best corner had great coverage and now he’s going to go home knowing he gave up the catch that ruined one of the most amazing comebacks in league history. But the man who should really be feeling the heat right now is defensive coordinator Richard Smith. No way he has a job here next season. This team’s defense is abysmal.

3:33 PM: Bironas splits the uprights with his record 8th field goal of the game, giving the Titans a stunning 38-36 win. Now, one has to wonder if this failed comeback actually made things worse for the Texans. The players and coaches have to be tremendously deflated and they won’t have time to lick their wounds with a trip to San Diego up next. Now that their record is below .500 (shockingly, for the first time this year), it seems like yet another season is on the brink of oblivion.

The only bright spot? The Rockets season opener is only eight days away. I think they’re gonna be good this year. For the sake of this city’s sports soul, they better be. – Jason Friedman

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