Rewatching the Texans-Bengals 2011 AFC South clincher with T.J. Yates was one of the most fun non-gameday things I've done in the last few years.
T.J. is obviously extremely knowledgeable but mixes in the analysis with humor, some of it self-deprecating. But he threw for 300 yards on that December day and helped give the Texans one of their greatest wins ever.
The thing I'll never forget about that game is that Kevin Walter's historic catch didn't clinch the division right away. Yes, the Texans won. But Tennessee was playing New Orleans in Nashville and had to lose for Houston to win the AFC South.
The Texans game ended first. We were in the booth doing the postgame show, going over the numbers and such but couldn't avoid doing some play-by-play of the final moments of the Titans game.
The last couple of plays I actually called, off the monitor, almost like we were there. Jake Locker got sacked to end the final Tennessee threat and I exclaimed "That's it, the Texans are the champions of the AFC South!"
That actually became the definitive call of the moment. It was such an honor to be able to be there, in Cincinnati that is, for that moment.
Meanwhile, the players were watching on TV in the locker room. The media was kept outside the door until the division was won. Everyone heard the vocal eruption.
The whole day was unforgettable. Yates played great down the stretch. The final drive was 80 yards with no timeouts. Owen Daniels made a couple of big catches to get the team rolling.
The biggest play was a Yates 17-yard run on third-and-15. It was almost Watson-like. Watch the replay to find out T.J.'s reply when I bring that up.
And the final play to Walter was well designed. The offense was utterly confident it would work.
Other notables include that J.J. Watt played well but he wasn't Mega Watt quite yet. He exploded on the national stage in the postseason. Connor Barwin was having a big year and his strip-sack of Andy Dalton turned the game around early in the second half.
Another big factor was that Andre Johnson did not play in the game. He was fighting through injuries and certainly made his presence felt in the playoff win over the Bengals with a TD reception. Also, a lot of folks might not remember that former Titan Derrick Mason spent time with the Texans. He plays in this game.
The day was capped off with a return to NRG Stadium and an impromptu celebration with a couple of thousand Texans fans in Bud Light Plaza. Players came out one-by-one to revel in the joy of making the postseason for the first time.
The Houston Texans took on the Cincinnati Bengals on December 11, 2011 with an AFC South Championship on the line . Quarterback T.J. Yates and the team brought the first division championship home to Houston that night!