Sure the Texans went 8-8 last year. It was a fine finish of winning three of the last four games to grab the team's first non-losing season. But this season's 5-1 finish left a real unquenched thirst for more action. September can't come soon enough.
Driving to Reliant Stadium, I savored the day because I knew it was the last game of the year. I always try to stay in the moment and remain grateful for the opportunity to work in this league. Taking the elevator up to the press box and eventually settling in, I always get a "feel" for the day. I was a tad worried that our team would have an Oakland hangover. I was right.
The day got started in the same weather we had last week in the Bay Area. The Texans stumbled into a 10-point hole, but a Mario Williams sack turned things around by causing a major shift in momentum. Two Matt Schaub touchdown passes to Andre Johnson, a Ryan Moats run, Kris Brown field goal and a Steve Slaton scamper gave the Texans their eighth win.
It was a sweet win because Chicago needed it and the Bears got the playoff help they needed by watching Oakland beat Tampa Bay and Philly down Dallas. The Raiders win should make the Texans feel a bit better about losing to a team that knocked out a potential playoff team on the road a week later.
A .500 season is hardly cause for celebration. But it should at least inspire a deep sigh of relief. The team didn't slide backwards and played their best ball when most people had written them off. Gary Kubiak and Rick Smith will make changes and strive for a faster start to go along with the Texans' strong finishes.
Kubiaks teams are 12-4 at home in the last two years. Schaub showed he is one of the better QBs in the NFL. Slaton, Johnson and the other offensive weapons speak for themselves. And the fact that we don't talk about the offensive line much means they are doing their jobs better than ever. The defense stepped up in the final six games but will get much attention.
There is a lot of work to be done, but it's easy to see the Texans are better right now than they were a year ago. The record might not reflect it, but it's obvious. The next step is a big climb and they have seven months to get ready for it. To be continued...