Game Time: At That Moment, Jerry....I Tell You, The Texans WERE A Playoff Team!
"So I started to walk into the water. I won't lie to you boys, I was terrified! But I pressed on and as I made my way past the breakers a strange calm came over me. I don't know if it was divine intervention or the kinship of all living things but I tell you Jerry at that moment I was a marine biologist!" -- George Costanza
You all remember that episode of Seinfeld, don't you? The one where George has to put on a facade of being a marine biologist in order to impress a woman that he is courting, lest she find out the actual truth -- that he is unemployed and living with his parents.
At the end of the episode, he is faced with a situation where he actually has to save a suffocating beached whale in front of dozens of people (including the aforementioned courtee) on the shores of Long Island Sound, and in very underratedly Costanza-esque fashion he actually does so successfully...because at that very moment he convinced himself that he was a marine biologist. (Because it's not a lie if you believe it...God, I miss Seinfeld.)
This brings me to yesterday's Texans game against the Patriots, the last fifteen minutes of which were the most exhilirating chunk of time I've spent in that building since I moved back to Houston in 2007 (although Undertaker versus Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania was not for the faint of heart).
Rice University Owls Football vs. Prairie View A&M University Football
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Rice University Owls Football vs. Florida Atlantic University Owls Football
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University of Houston Cougars Football vs. Tulane University Football
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Down two touchdowns to the Patriots and staring another year of 8-8 purgatory in the face, the Texans manned up, got a little something from every nook and cranny of the roster, and beat the Patriots 34-27 to finish 9-7 for the first time in franchise history.
When Brian Hoyer's fourth-down pass hit the turf with mere seconds to go, it touched off a huge celebration. Andre Johnson hugged Matt Schaub. Players mobbed Gary Kubiak. The defensive linemen took turns dropping elbows on Kris Brown (Ok, I made that one up.). Jacoby Jones ran straight to the stands to hug his family, who until yesterday were the only ones in the building who were still 100 percent behind the kid.
But I'll say this for the first time ever -- the Texans don't win that game without Jacoby Jones. Bouncing back from a dropped pass that led to a pick-six, he made three crucial crunch-time plays (a drive-saving third-and-fifteen catch, an acrobatic touchdown grab, and a 31-yard punt return to put the Texans in business just before the tying touchdown). Good for Jacoby.
Indeed, the joint was jumpin', Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" blared over the P.A. system, the skies rumbled, the earth shook. It was awesome. The players celebrated in the locker room, and talked about the strides they had made, and the guts they showed down the stretch by winning four in a row when most people counted them out.
I don't know if it was divine intervention or the kinship of all living things but I tell you Jerry, at that moment....the Texans WERE a playoff team!
And hopefully they enjoyed that celebration, because this will be the last time for this group of players that 9-7 and no playoff berth is good enough. For them, for us, for anybody.
While I'm happy for all of the Texans' players and coaches, my hope is that the enduring memory of January 3, 2010, is not of smiles and hugs and pats on the back for a job well done. My hope is they remember the helpless feeling of their playoff hopes being pinned on the arm of Jamarcus Russell and the collective will (or lack thereof) of the Cincinnati Bengals, because it didn't have to be this way. A play here, a kick there and the Texans are the ones resting their starters this past Sunday.
In some ways, I'm glad I held off on writing this stuff until I've had a chance to sleep on it, because the raw emotion last night during the Cincinnati game, while perhaps making for an entertaining piece, would not have captured the truth of the matter, and that is that Jim Caldwell didn't screw the Texans; the Bengals didn't screw the Texans; the Texans screwed the Texans (For WWE fans, that was my homage to the return of Bret Hart to WWE television tonight; you know what I'm talking about.).
t would have been easy for me to write about Carson Palmer's clueless facial expressions and Chad Ochocinco's hands of stone, especially because after the Patriots game I actually spent $279.30 to change my kids' flights back to Chicago to Monday so we could watch the Texans (perhaps) clinch a playoff spot together (still $279.30 well spent because my kids make me laugh). Instead, I left the Bengals hating for my ten-year-old son, Sammy, who hand wrote his first ever blog last night while Carson Palmer & Co. were sucking ass.
On my way home from the game, I heard one radio guy on the Texans flagship say how this Patriots game was different because "for the first time the Texans said we're not gonna take it anymore, we're not gonna be 8-8!" I had to laugh because resolve and fight has never been an issue with the 2009 Texans. In fact, that was the least of their problems. Their problems were red-zone offense inconsistency, a complete lack of a running game, and a penchant early in the season for giving up the big play. Oh, and Kris Brown.
"Want to" or scrappiness was never an issue.
Sunday they made the plays they needed to when they needed to, period. Their seven losses, other than the Jets opener, all came down to two or three plays that didn't get made. Their nine wins were largely comfortable wins where they cruised over bad teams, or let things get a little too close for comfort with some decent teams, and Sunday's win, which was memorable, even if it didn't clinch a playoff berth, because they made plays when they had to.
Go into the offseason feeling good about yourselves, Texans. You deserve to. But don't forget what it felt like to have to root for the Chiefs, Raiders, and Bengals to decide your fate. You're better than that. This time next year, I don't want to have to dredge up the "marine biologist" clip again.
Instead, I want to talk about playoff seeding and how you're all "growns up!!"
Listen to Sean Pendergats on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on 1560 The Game on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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