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A happy plane ride home: Texans celebrate win over Colts | Week 18

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Grins, ear-to-ear.

Jubilation and excitement spread through the visitors' locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday evening after the Texans triumphed over the Colts, 23-19.

Houston's in the playoffs, and their opponent next week will be determined by the outcomes of a game or two on Sunday.

But for tonight, it's all happiness for a team and a franchise that had fallen on hard times from 2020 through 2022.

Head Coach DeMeco Ryans, himself a Texans linebacker from 2006 through 2011, ignited the franchise and the fanbase when he took the job last winter. When he was asked 'What's next?' in the moments after the victory, Ryans flashed the same gleaming smile from the late January day in 2023 when he took the job.

"We'll enjoy this moment for sure, enjoy tonight, and get to sit back and watch football tomorrow," Ryans said. "See where we'll be going, who we'll be playing, who will be at home."

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As he said those words at the podium, a boisterous locker room basked in the win. Safety Jalen Pitre, who grew up 11 miles from NRG Stadium in Stafford, and struggled with his teammates through a 13-loss campaign in 2022, shared his excitement.

"Nothing sweeter," Pitre said. "We're in the playoffs. Great team win today. I'm just so thankful. Being a Houston Texan, there's been some ups and downs. But we persevered through."

Between puffs on a cigar, tight end Brevin Jordan, also a veteran of the wayward 2021 and 2022 seasons, reflected on the end of a magical regular season and the start of the postseason.

"It's really an unbelievable feeling to turn around, the 180 switch that we've had," Jordan said. "From last year, we won three games, to being in the playoffs, it's a huge thing. It's why you put in all the work. I'm so excited."

With a late flight home to Houston, the Texans will return in the wee hours of Sunday morning. But they'll have some fun between takeoff and touchdown. Jordan wanted to finish his cigar.

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