Over the last four weeks of the regular season, despite having a significant carrot in front of them in the form of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs for which to play, the Houston Texans looked like they were lacking in direction, almost lifeless at times.
How that could be, I have no idea, but it was, and it all started with the 42-14 pounding administered to them by the New England Patriots in Foxboro. The Texans return to the scene of that crime ("first degree football murder" were the actual charges) this Sunday. At stake? The right to go to the AFC Championship Game.
That alone should be enough to fully shake the Texans from their late-season doldrums. (The 19-13 win over the Bengals was only a partial shaking of said doldrums.) However, if the Texans need one more enemy, one more chip on their shoulder, one more VERY tiny bit of incentive to send Tom Brady home to Gisele for the winter, I give you Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy.
In his column in the Sunday Globe, Shaughnessy lays out exactly what he thinks of your Houston Texans, and be prepared, Battle Red Nation, because it's not pretty:
The 2012-13 New England Patriots just became the first team in NFL history to get back-to-back byes before advancing to the conference championship game.
Could this get any easier?
I mean, seriously? The planets are aligned and the tomato cans are in place. The fraudulent Houston Texans are the only team standing between the New England Patriots and a trip to the AFC Championship game. All the Patriots have to do is beat the terrible Texans. One week from today. At Gillette Stadium.
Pass Go and collect $200. The Patriots are in the AFC title game.
So, if you're keeping score at home, in the first 95 words of his "preview" of the Texans and Patriots, Shaughnessy just compared playing the Texans to a bye week, called them "easy," called them "tomato cans," described them as "fraudulent."
He called them "terrible."
Then, as if it couldn't get any lower, Ronald McDonald winds up with his steel-toed clown shoe and kicks the Texans squarely where it hurts:
I thought last year's cakewalk was the easiest path any team ever had to get to the Super Bowl. All the Patriots had to do was beat the 8-8 Denver Broncos to get to the conference title game.
But this is more of a layup.
Remember that Bronco outfit from last season? The one that replaced Kyle Orton with Tim Tebow and then needed every shred of luck short of teams whimsically deciding to forfeit games to eke out an 8-8 record in the regular season to win an AFC West that, in the NFL's china cabinet, was a nasty petri dish? That Denver team that when they played good teams (not named Pittsburgh) would typically lose by three or four touchdowns? Sometimes more?
Yeah, Shaughnessy thinks the Texans suck worse than them. YOU'RE WORSE THAN A TEAM QUARTERBACKED BY TIM TEBOW. I mean...if that were a "your mama" joke, Shaughnessy would've basically just said that your mom is a dimestore hooker with the clap.
Shaughnessy goes on to rehash that Monday night win with several paragraphs worth of data that are impossible to dispute if you're a Texans fan. I mean, you saw that game. Hell, I endured that game from the stands in Foxboro. No other way to put it, the Texans got their asses kicked.
But the longtime Globe scribe does not go quietly into the night:
The great J.J. Watt was a zero in that game.
Not true. It wasn't a typical J.J. Watt game, but he was not the problem.
Houston's ever-overmatched defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, was scratching his head, perhaps wondering why his guys were unable to cover all those Patriots wide receivers.
Phillips and head coach Gary Kubiak did what almost everybody does against the Patriots. They choked. The forget what got them to this level. They played on their heels, and let Brady carve them up like a medical school cadaver.
Take that, Gary and Wade. And then the final loogy right in the eye....
No pressure. Total retreat. Total surrender.
Texans, Dan Shaughnessy thinks you are a bunch of quitters. Plain and simple.
Now, Shaughnessy is just one
very strange looking guy, so why should the Houston Texans or the fans care about a possible media troll? (I say "possible" because I had Shaughnessy on my radio show the week after the Texans played the Vikings and he said many of these same things, so these are probably his real feelings.)
Well, because if anything this is a good omen for the Texans. The most memorable time that Shaughnessy pulled out the "frauds" card was when the 2004 Red Sox were down 0-3 to the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
Fast forward to 0:50
How'd that work out, Dan?
Trust me, kids, predictions are not Shaughnessy's strong suit...
What happened that night? Well, the Rays did come back from down 7-0, and the Red Sox did lose to the Orioles.
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Damn, maybe the Texans do have a shot this Sunday!
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.