Sunday presents another opportunity to defeat the team that's given the Texans more trouble than any other – the Colts.
Texans Radio listeners have heard me say it many times – "I hate the Colts like poison!" but I'm always clear that this is healthy 'sports hate.' This is where hate belongs, not in real life.
The fact is I actually like many of the people who work there. I've met the GM, Chris Ballard. He's from Tomball and seems like a nice guy. I'm sure Frank Reich is too. And their play-by-play voice, Matt Taylor, is an industry buddy of mine.
But I still hate the Colts.
They've given me more sports-pain than any franchise ever. The Patriots are in the conversation but there's no squad that matches the sheer trauma-inducing history of Indy.
From the days of going up to the old RCA Dome (which was the loudest building in the history of the league. Don't @ me!) to seeing Jacoby Brissett go 3-1 as a Colt against Houston (and 5-1 all-time with three different teams! Don't get me started!) Indy wins the award as the all-time Texans villain.
Writer's Note: I've stayed away from mentioning T.Y. Hilton in this piece only because I'm having a nice week and don't want to think too many negative thoughts, like when Indy came in here for the '18 playoffs and… STOP ME!
Because of the history and the feelings, a win over Indianapolis is extra special. You walk taller. Food tastes better. The air is sweet.
The first-ever win at Lucas Oil stadium in 2015 is my all-time favorite non-playoff-clinching, non-opening day of team history regular season Texans win ever.
Forty-one times the Texans have faced Indy, including once in the playoffs. Over the 20 years of contests the Texans have won nine of them.
Lovie Smith understands this. He just got here last year yet fully comprehends the history and experienced some himself as the Texans lost two lopsided games against the Horseshoe in 2021.
Those games netted only three points for Houston while the Colts put up 31 in each contest. Both games were within striking distance going into the third quarter but the Indy defense was too much. Now Houston has reloaded on both sides of the ball and is doing everything possible to 'show out' on Sunday.
It's the third time the Texans have faced Indianapolis on opening day. The kickoff games in 2010 and 2011 went very well. The 2010 opener was just the second time the Texans beat Indy. Houston was coming off a 9-7 campaign, its first winning season. The previous year saw two close losses to the Colts, so you felt like the team was extra due.
I'm not going to go through all the painful defeats. I won't mention Rosencopter or the missed field goal at the buzzer up there in '09 or the 17-point blown lead down here in '09 or Dan Orlovsky up there in '11 or the gut punch in '12 that took homefield advantage away or….
Editor's note: Geez, Vandermeer. For 'not mentioning' the painful losses you're sure doing a heck of a job listing them. Can we get back on task, please!?
Ok, after Peyton Manning went 18-2 against the Texans as a Colt, Houston started to turn the tide. The Texans split in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, swept in 2016 and split again in '18 and '19.
Since the last victory over Indy on a Thursday night in 2019 the Colts have won four in a row. They're starting their 6th different quarterback at NRG Stadium in the last eight years. Matt Ryan is 0-2 in Houston as a Falcon with a 17-10 loss in '11 and a blowout defeat in '19 (0-3 when you count the Super Bowl but who's counting?).
It's a brand new day for both teams. Indy is trying to snap an eight game opening day losing streak. Ryan has been hailed as a true team leader as the Indy media is comparing that part of his skill set to Manning.
This series is peppered with unpredictable game stories and outcomes. Brock Osweiler is 2-0 against the Colts as a Texan. He's one of three QBs to beat the Colts in Indy for Houston. Deshaun Watson went 1-2 up there and the first Texans road win of the series was a combined QB effort as starter T.J. Yates injured a knee and Brandon Weeden won the game off the bench. Neither QB was with the team when training camp began.
The hard work of the off season is over. Opening day is always special. It has plenty of extra juice this year as the nemesis invades.
Is it Sunday yet?