After their 23-17 win over Jacksonville, Texans players learned about their postseason fate only after they walked off the field.
"I had to ask somebody walking in the tunnel if we'd made the playoffs or not," Case Keenum said. "I didn't even know what was going on or how close we came to even just from guys talk."
It was a bittersweet moment for the players, happy to have won but realizing that they did not get the help needed to earn a playoff spot.
"It's tough, it's a weird situation," J.J. Watt said after the game. "You're excited about the win and everything that happened and you're hoping but that's what happens when you leave it in somebody else's hands."
For the first time this season, no scores were shown on the stadium boards at NRG Stadium. It was the request of head coach Bill O'Brien who wanted players to focus on winning their final game of the season.
"I said if it's possible, while our guys are on the sideline, if we could not post those scores so that we're totally focused on beating the Jacksonville Jaguars because I thought that was the most important thing," O'Brien said. "I wanted to be focused on that game, on that play, and not be scoreboard watching. Whether you agree with me or not, that was just my idea and I was glad they did that."
The Texans were as close to a wildcard berth as possible up until the final quarter of 2014 as they needed a win and corresponding losses by both San Diego and Baltimore. Early in the fourth quarter, the Texans were leading 21-17. Cleveland led the Ravens 10-3 and Kansas City had a 19-7 lead over the Chargers, but the Texans had no way of knowing. Baltimore's win eliminated Houston from the playoffs before the players even left the field.
"I don't think any of us were aware of what was going on at the time (Cleveland game)," Duane Brown said. "We found out soon after. It is tough to accept, but we all did what we could and that is all you can ask for."
"I think everyone was interested, but the most important thing was taking care of our business because if we didn't do that, you know, it really didn't matter," Brian Cushing said. "We did really what we were in control of. Unfortunately, some other stuff didn't happen for us, but we played as hard as we could."
The Texans finished their 2014 campaign with a 9-7 record, their fourth time in franchise history with a winning record on the season.