You knew Sunday was a potential 'get well' game for both the Raiders and the Texans. You also knew the loser would feel extra terrible. Hundreds of seagulls flew over the stadium after the game like buzzards circling the dead carcass of the once mighty Oakland franchise.
Oakland has turned the ball over 13 times in three meetings against Houston. Winning the turnover battle was crucial. The Texans are a horrifying 3-40 all time when they cough up the hog skin more than their opponents.
Now that they've hit the bye week, it's time to take stock. They have some good things happening like Andre Johnson returning. They also have to live without hard-hitting Dunta Robinson the rest of the way and with the question marks about Matt Schaub's cob webs and Ahman Green's knee.
Plus, there's a schedule that would put them as an underdog in just about every game if you had to handicap the action right now. Tampa Bay and Cleveland are much better than predicted in the preseason. Tennessee looks like it can win any week and the Colts are still the Colts. Surprisingly, Denver looks depleted, but these Texans know that Oakland and Miami took them to the wire in their last two wins, so there are no gimmies.
The Texans have to go 4-3 just to finish 8-8. This is no time to exhale.
Oakland's fans are flamboyant and rowdy. The stadium was no where near full, but those in attendance still made a ton of noise for a bad team. They deserve better. Over 65 percent of Raiders home games have been blacked out since Al Davis moved the team back to Oakland. In California, interest wanes quickly when a team doesn't cut it. And all three NFL stadiums need replacing in the Golden State. They are old dumps, but getting public money in California to build sports venues is harder than convincing Paris Hilton to stop partying.
We're lucky to have the palaces for sports we get to enjoy in Houston. Let's hope the fans get into a frenzy early and often when the Texans take the field next against the Saints. Maybe the Reggie hype will get in their collective craw and inspire them to great things.
Brace yourself for plenty of media questions to Mario Williams on Bush. The guy you really need to worry about though is Drew Brees. He beat the Texans with San Diego on opening day in 2004. It was a performance that sparked his rise as a top flight QB in the NFL. He started slowly this year but is heating up at a bad time for Houston.
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