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Holiday Punch | Vandermeer's View

With everything the Texans have faced this season, particularly in the last few weeks, the 41-29 win over the Chargers is one we'll remember for a long time.

To say the team was undermanned is accurate, based on the way the 53-man roster, plus the practice squad, has been set up. But that doesn't do justice to the players who stepped up and showed that not only do they belong on an NFL field, they can help a team win and derail another squad on their way to the postseason.

The coaching staff and players came up with the proverbial 'total team win', constructing an ensemble effort that featured all three phases rising to the occasion. This is easily the most complete and impressive win for the organization in two years.

Davis Mills took another big step forward, throwing for 254 yards, two touchdowns, no picks and only one sack. He engineered a 9-for-13 third-down performance and found seven different receivers on a day when Brandin Cooks was unavailable.

Add that to the running game breaking loose for a tremendous afternoon, led by Rex Burkhead's career-best 149 yards and two TDs. He averaged 6.8 yards per carry caught two passes and even recovered a Charger onside kick for the final nail in the coffin.

You could see it from the outset that the offensive line was getting a good push behind four different starters from opening day and three since two weeks ago.

The rookies continued to make plays as Mills found Brevin Jordan for four key completions and Nico Collins caught three balls, including the dagger touchdown reception on third down in the fourth quarter.

Scrappy doesn't begin to describe the tenacity of the defense in this outing. There were 10 different starters from opening day and seven from two weeks ago. This was a game where we spent more time in the booth scribbling on our rosters and depth charts than we did actually seeing the players warm up. At one point, I joked that my roster looked like a Jackson Pollack painting.

Let's not forget about kicker Dominik Eberle (who?) filling in for Ka'imi Fairbairn and making every extra point and field goal other than a barely-missed 52-yard try. Excellent work for a stranger who will undoubtedly get some attention after his big day.

The takeaway train got rolling again as Houston forced three turnovers including, a pick-six by Tavierre Thomas, a Jonathan Owens interception and an Owens recovery off a DeMarcus Walker forced fumble.

This was one for the ages. Yes, there's no postseason for Houston but the Texans played like they had everything on the line, upending a team that needed this win badly.

San Francisco is next. The Texans might not be projected to have much of a shot. But they weren't today either. And you can't tell anyone in their locker room or coaching offices that they don't. Somehow, through the adversity of a frustrating season and the pandemic, they are gelling late and finding a groove. And we're here for it.

Watch the Houston Texans take on the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium on January 9. Kickoff is at noon. Click here for tickets.

Check out some photos of Houston Texans players warming up at NRG Stadium to take on the Chargers in Week 16.

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