How much did the Texans’ 23-10 victory over New Orleans mean to the franchise? To Bob McNair, it was monumental enough that he felt compelled to make an appearance in the team’s locker room immediately after the game. The Texans’ owner held court in the center of the room as the media horde filed in, expressing his satisfaction with the current crop of players and coaching staff.
“I think it’s tremendous for us,” said McNair. “We’ve gone through a tremendous number of injuries, and the team has just kept battling. It would have been very easy to give in to it. Instead, they just keep going, and here we are at a point where we’re still in the hunt, and I just couldn’t be any prouder of them.”
“It’s going to be an exciting November and December for us, and our team is playing very well.”
If you think this sort of pomp and circumstance is a bit much for a team which merely upped its record to a rather unspectacular 5-5, well, you’re probably right. But you also might consider cutting them a bit of a break. Around these parts, mid-November is typically time to start dreaming of draft day, not a possible playoff push.
Forget for a moment — if you can — that the Texans’ season will not be ending with a postseason appearance. The mere fact they haven’t yet been mathematically eliminated is newsworthy for a franchise which only knew futility through its first five years.
After the game, there was an exuberance in the locker room that hadn’t been felt since the Texans opening week win over Kansas City. The players and coaches knew all too well that their season was on the brink of oblivion just two weeks ago, so the mood was likely equal parts joy and relief.
“It didn’t look good a few weeks ago, but we worked really hard to get to the point we’re at,” said head coach Gary Kubiak. “I’ve seen teams go through some real rough times, and if you panic as a coach, and panic as players, you’re never going to move forward. I told them we’ll have to go through good times and bad times to become a good, competitive team in this league, and to reach the goals that we want to reach in the future. And we will have to go through a lot of stuff. We’ll just weather the storm. We started playing a little better, and we’ve still got to play better as we move into these last six (games).”
Ah, yes, those last six games. Five of the six are against teams who boast records well above .500. The lone exception is no pushover either: it’s a Thursday night game — meaning just three days of prep time – against Denver. Suffice to say, the Texans’ chances of making the playoffs this year are about the same as Ron Paul being named our country’s next president. It just aint happening, folks.
But why let reality ruin the buzz? This was a day for hope. Hope, that maybe Mario was the right pick after all. Hope, that perhaps the defense can survive the loss of Dunta Robinson. Hope, that maybe the Texans really are a completely different team with Andre Johnson on the field (they’re 3-0 this season when he plays). And of course, hope, that maybe, just maybe, December will bring battles for playoff – and not draft — positioning.
Let the dream linger just a little longer. On this day, no matter how ugly the win, the Texans earned it. -- Jason Friedman
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