Do you dare believe? After suffering through five years of the most gruesome form of gridiron torture, are you willing to concede that this Texans team might just be different from all the rest? That is the question facing Houston fans today after their Texans put the wraps on the most impressive win in franchise history.
Granted, this club hasn’t exactly stockpiled a plethora of stunning achievements over the years. Prior to Sunday’s shellacking of the Panthers, Houston’s “Big Win” list ended at two, by my count (Dallas in ’02 and Indy in ’06). However, neither of those victories comes close to carrying the potential significance of yesterday’s accomplishment. Sure, beating the Cowboys was nice, since there’s nothing better than shoving a turd sandwich in the face of those fans from Dallas. But “19-10” didn’t exactly spur the club on to bigger and better things in the ensuring years, did it? And while it was great to see the Texans finally get that giant Colt off their back by beating Indianapolis, it’s hard to make too much of that one game simply because Indy was already in coast mode preparing for the playoffs.
So does the Carolina win top both of those? Obviously, we have to wait and see what happens from this point forward in order to place that victory in its proper historical context. Much like the win over Dallas, it won’t mean jack if the Texans don’t follow it up with several more quality showings. But check out the schedule and tell me this team doesn’t have a tremendous shot at being above .500 by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. And you know what that means: that’s right, an honest-to-goodness playoff chase.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. No doubt, Indy may very well deliver a bitch-slap to bring us right back to reality one week from now. Still, it’s hard not to believe there’s something genuinely different about this team. Just look at the laundry list of accomplishments from Sunday’s sterling performance: 34 straight points. Zero sacks allowed, despite facing a notoriously fearsome front four. Two sacks for rookie Amobi Okoye. A special teams touchdown. Three turnovers forced (bringing their total to seven, in just two games). Coming back from a 14 point deficit against a good team ON THE ROAD. The final point, of course, looms largest since every Texans fan on the planet figured Carolina was well on its way to delivering an epic beatdown after Steve Smith’s second touchdown of the day.
“We know every fan probably said, ‘Here we go again,’ after we fell behind,” says Texans’ long-snapper Bryan Pittman. “And, sure, we were a little down seeing how they got up 14-0 so quick. But from that point on, we finally got our offense to click and it was like they couldn’t stop us. It was just total domination and it felt great.”
I know, I know. It all seems too good to be true. The beleaguered Texans fan in you is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe you think Andre Johnson’s sprained PCL is worse than originally thought (he’ll undergo an MRI today). Perhaps you’re afraid because the Texans have lost the element of surprise now that they’re receiving some props from the national media (NBC’s Tiki Barber says Houston is going to be this year’s “surprise team”). Or maybe you figure the Texans are simply prepping you for the cruelest form of torture a team can impose upon its fan base: false hope.
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SHOW ME HOW
If you feel that way, it’s certainly understandable considering what this franchise has put you through to date. Your fragile inner-fan has no doubt endured a lifetime’s worth of misery during five often-excruciating years. So here’s my prescription: Play as the Texans on Madden (they’re surprisingly good), then load up the DVR and watch yesterday’s game all over again while reveling in the victory with your fellow fans on the Texans message board. Then, re-read, study and discuss my hard-hitting, airtight theory on how Madonna has blessed the Texans season. And if you’re still unconvinced, Bryan Pittman has a message for you:
“We’re a different team, baby.”
Maybe, just maybe, he’s actually right.
Do you dare believe? – Jason Friedman