Riding the playoff chase rollercoaster

I promised myself I wouldn't let it happen. I'd focus on what the Texans could control, and not let my eyes and emotions wander toward Baltimore and Kansas City.

As the game wore on...I gave in. In the heat of that moment...I couldn't resist.

I'm sure you all couldn't either.

For you to understand the emotions behind Sunday's game, you have to go back to December 29, 2013.

The Texans closed out the 2013 campaign in Nashville, squaring off against the Titans in a rather meaningless game. The Texans had lost 13 straight, reeling in ways no one could have predicted prior to the season.

Playoff talk ended months prior, the only thing left to determine was whether or not the team would get the number one overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Toward the tail end of that game, then quarterback Matt Schaub had an opportunity to lead the team on a game winning drive. I remember seeing fans on Twitter hoping that Schaub would NOT succeed, praying the team would lose. In that moment, losing became more important, and in minds of many was the preferable outcome.

I can't blame them.

Super Bowl aspirations had turned into everyone's worst case scenario, and the hope of a top pick was all fans had. The head coach who started the season was gone, and everyone understood that change was coming. It was the end of an era.

Needless to say, Schaub and the offense didn't convert on that day, and Texans fans celebrated the team's 14th straight loss.

A week later, the Texans hired Bill O'Brien. He spoke of a 'team first' mentality, promising to bring physical football back to Houston. His pedigree, his background and his beliefs were different, but to a fan base craving success, he was welcomed.

Fast forward 15 games later, and the seeds of Bill O'Brien's philosophy were bearing fruit. Coming into the final game of the season, the Texans matchup against the Jaguars mattered, and with the right twist of fate, even the playoffs were possible.

We tried to focus. It wasn't easy.

In the press box on Sunday, every television in the seating area had Texans and Jaguars playing. No Baltimore-Cleveland, no San Diego-Kansas City. Scores weren't announced at NRG Stadium, and unless you had an internet connection, you had no idea what was going on. There was a reason for that.

For those of us that were wired in, it was a roller coaster ride. The Texans took an early lead, and so did Kansas City. The Browns were hanging tough, and for a moment, we started to hope. As half time rolled around, we had a chance. It was all you could ask for.

The twists just kept coming. The Chiefs continued to expand their advantage, and the Chargers didn't have an answer. The Browns went into the fourth quarter with a 10-3 lead over the Ravens. For just a second, you started contemplating what could be. But, then the Jaguars took the lead, and hope turned into fear.

The emotions ran the gamut. Nervous, excited and scared. Could the Browns hold on? Would the Texans get every break but then lose the game?

When Case Keenum hit Andre Johnson to put the Texans ahead, it all came together. Had everything ended right there, the improbable would have been reality. The Texans, coming off a 2-14 season, playing their fourth quarterback of the season, would have completed a miraculous turn around and made the playoffs.

But, it wasn't meant to be, as the Ravens scored 17 straight points to capture a 20-10 win over the Browns. That game ended as the Jaguars started their final drive, and part of me wanted to not care about the Texans result. I mean, it didn't matter anymore right?

I couldn't have been more wrong. The fact that the Texans were even in that position was a testament to what O'Brien's staff has been preaching. When the Texans D got that final stop, it mattered.

It always did. Even if the end result wasn't what we all wanted.

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