We were working on a run down of Gary Kubiak's best moments as a Texan and it was easy to come up with them. But I have a few of my own.
It's the first playoff game in team history. The stadium is in a frenzy as the team is about to be introduced. Bum Phillips walks out of the tunnel and every hair on the back of every neck is standing up. I still get chills thinking about it.
Here's Kubiak, the former Luv Ya Blue era ball boy, coaching the hometown team in the post season, with the legendary coach leading the team out. There was no way the Texans would lose that day.
Let's look back -
In year two of Kubiak's tenure, the Texans acquired Matt Schaub and that changed everything. The first two years with Schaub were a bit of a roller coaster ride because he missed chunks of time.
But with Kubiak at the controls and when Schaub played a full season, the Texans finished no lower than 7th in total offense. They have finished no higher than 13th since.
They also finished 3rd in 2008 when Schaub and Sage Rosenfels shared the duties. You might be thinking 'Hey, but they ran the ball a ton, the QBs didn't do that much!'
Au Contraire. In '08 and '09 the Texans weren't clicking on the ground the way they would when Arian Foster and the line really kicked it into high gear in '10. In '08, Steve Slaton led the AFC in yards from scrimmage with Schaub and Rosenfels dealing to Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels and friends.
More memories -
It's 2006, his first year. The Texans were 2-6 and in Jacksonville. The Jags still had David Garrard, Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor. The Texans had a 13-10 lead with 1:41 left. Carr got hurt and Rosenfels was in the game. Kubiak elected to go for it on 4th and one from his 41 yard line with a hand off to Samkon Gado. First down. Game over.
The first win over the Colts on Christmas Eve was one for the ages. It was only the 5th victory of the campaign but if felt like a playoff triumph.
In 2007, weeks 14 and 15, the Texans would win back to back games over Tampa Bay and Denver. The Broncos tilt was a Thursday night prime timer. Mario Williams had three and a half sacks as the Texans went to 7-7, the latest in the season they'd ever been .500. It was a big step at the time.
The '08 season brought Hurricane Ike and an 0-4 start. Schaub's short TD run in the final seconds gave the Texans their first win. They'd go 8-4 from there including the dramatic buzzer beater at Green Bay.
Everyone points to '11 as the start of good defensive play in the Kubiak era, when Wade Phillips joined the fray. But '09 saw the Texans make some strides and send three defenders to the Pro Bowl in Williams, DeMeco Ryans and Brian Cushing. The '10 season saw more terrific offensive output including the league's leading rusher in Foster, but the defense faltered.
The '11 campaign ushered in J.J. Watt, Johnathan Joseph, Danieal Manning and Brooks Reed. The Schaub injury in week 10 was a huge blow but T.J. Yates threw for 300 yards four weeks later in the first ever division clincher, over Cincinnati.
The first playoff game was basically a perfect day. Watt had the unforgettable pick 6. Johnson and Foster had statement TDs and Yates played well.
The '11 team had 16 players who were or would eventually be Pro Bowlers. We'll always wonder what would have happened if Schaub could have finished the season.
Kubiak helped turn the Texans from a losing franchise to a playoff team. He's an outstanding coach, a true gentleman and forever a Texan.