The first time the Texans ever played the Chargers, Houston had a rookie quarterback and the Chargers had a hot shot second year QB. Sound familiar?
For the Texans, it was David Carr making his second start, the encore to the opening night win over Dallas. For the Chargers it was Drew Brees taking snaps during his nearly forgotten time playing the position in Southern California.
The day did not go well for Houston as Carr was sacked nine times in a lopsided loss. The two would meet again in the 2004 opener in Houston. That game might be best remembered for the electricity going out in the stadium for a few moments in the second half. It felt like the world stopped.
Brees played that day with rookie Phillip Rivers holding the clipboard and learning from the bench. Rivers was drafted as a replacement but Brees held him off for two years by going 20-11 as the starter until he hit free agency and ended up in New Orleans. Rivers would play 16 seasons with the franchise before departing in 2020 and clearing the way for Justin Herbert, who is currently lighting up the league.
So now it's once again a Houston rookie against a hot shot second year Charger QB, just like the first match-up. The world has changed quite a bit since then. Even just two years ago if you had told me that a huge concern going into late season games would be who is available because of Covid-19 concerns, I might have suggested you've been watching too much science fiction.
But here we are. Both teams are affected by the virus at the moment but the Texans have been hit harder, so far. It'd be great to see Houston as close to full strength as possible in the effort to win back-to-back for the first time this season.
One more thing about the Chargers - This is a proud QB franchise. Herbert, Rivers and Brees are relatively recent field generals of note. But the franchise g.o.a.t. is Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, who was the first quarterback who made 300 yard games a regular thing.
That offense was dubbed 'Air Coryell' for their coach Don Coryell. The attack was so potent they finished first in offense five out of eight years – and no lower than fifth. Don't bother looking it up. No team has done anything resembling this before or since. Players like Kellen Winslow, Charlie Joyner, John Jefferson, Wes Chandler, Chuck Muncie and James Brooks slayed the league back in the late 70s and early 80s.
Despite the fireworks, they never made it to a Super Bowl. One of the teams that got in the way was the Houston Oilers in the 1979 playoffs when they upset San Diego, playing severely undermanned.
Sunday will be another chapter in this series. In the last meeting, the Texans prevailed in Southern Cal. Here's hoping for another W on the day after Christmas.