Though the Texans' 2012 season came to an abrupt ending in Foxboro on Sunday evening, fan support lasted into the wee hours of Monday morning. A group of devoted fans waited outside Reliant Stadium to welcome the Texans home from New England at 2:30 a.m.
All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown was humbled by the early-morning display and showed his appreciation by signing autographs for the fans who waited in the chilly 40-degree weather with signs and Texans memorabilia.
"It was awesome because I know how long that flight was for us, so I can only imagine staying out there," Brown said. "It was pretty cold. That's why I felt obligated to go greet them. They didn't have to do that. I know there's a lot of people who are disappointed, but those fans just show how much they love us, how much they support us. The support makes it through defeat, so it felt good to go out there and meet them and greet them."
Overall, it was a remarkable year for fan support in Houston. Home game attendance totaled an impressive 645,059 through eight regular-season games and the Wild Card playoff matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, and a huge showing of traveling Texans made Houston's presence known in cities all around the NFL.
"Our fans have been with us throughout the whole year," Brown said. "We really appreciate the support. We would have liked for it to keep going past this week. Unfortunately, we fell short, but I just want to say thank you to you all. It definitely made playing at home an awesome experience every week, and it was great to see fans as well on the road travelling."
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt also was appreciative of the fans waiting outside Reliant in the early morning hours on Monday.
"I feel like I let those people down," the 2013 Pro Bowler said. "I feel like they deserve better. We gave it everything we had. We left it all on the field, but we came up short, and to me, success in this league is a trophy. And we came back empty-handed, so my entire goal is to bring that to this city and to show this city that we are a championship team and we're going to bring them a championship.
"I can't thank the fans enough. The fans are unbelievable, and I appreciate them so much. They made this year so much fun."