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13 years later, Lechler is back in playoffs

The last time Shane Lechler played in the postseason was 13 years ago.

The Texans were in their inaugural season. The Rockets had just drafted Yao Ming with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft. The television show "Friends" still had two more seasons left to air and Jennifer Aniston's biggest fan, J.J. Watt, was still a boy from Pewaukee, Wisconsin attending class in middle school.

"This is special," Lechler said Monday. "It's not easy to get into the playoffs. I told guys in our special teams meeting, you know, don't take this stuff for granted. These chances don't come around too often. I had veteran guys like Rich Gannon, Jerry Rice, Tim Brown tell me that and I didn't listen. I took it for granted my first three years and it took me a long time to get back."

Lechler experienced playoffs for his first three years in the league and has not been back since. Wide receivers Jaelen Strong and DeAndre Hopkins were eight and ten years old, respectively, when Lechler punted in the Super Bowl XXXVII on Jan. 26, 2003.

"Yeah, it's been a long time since I've been in the postseason and some of these guy were…young," Lechler said, smiling.

Now in his 16th season, Lechler admits he doesn't know how many more chances he'll get. The 39-year-old jokes about his age difference between him and the rookies. It still won't stop him from relishing the moment that took 13 seasons to finally come for him.

"Definitely," Lechler said. "I don't let moments like this slip by. I don't know many more I'll get. This is what you play for, to get in the postseason and we're in it and you never know what can happen."

The Texans enter the 2015 postseason with 23 players having combined 101 games of playoff experience. Lechler has seen action in seven playoff games, including a Super Bowl appearance. Vince Wilfork leads the roster with 21 postseason games played, including 19 starts, and two Super Bowl championships.

The 2015 AFC South Champion Houston Texans (9-7) will host the Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) at NRG Stadium on Saturday, Jan. 9. Kickoff for the AFC Wild Card Game is set for 3:35 p.m. CT on ESPN/ABC.

Texans players celebrated winning the AFC South Championship.

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