It was the Texans’ Monday Night Football debut. They wore all Battle Red. There was a great primetime buzz in the building even though the squad had been struggling.
This was the Hurricane Ike year. An 0-4 start led to 3-7 record with six games left. Matching the previous year’s 8-8 finish seemed nearly impossible under the circumstances.
Sage Rosenfels was getting a lot of action as Matt Schaub was once again struggling with injuries in his second campaign with the team. After edging out a win over Cleveland eight days earlier, it was time for a national TV showdown.
This was a Texans team that had lost some close games, including one to the Jags in overtime in the third game of the season. The feeling was that the record could’ve been a lot better if not for key injuries and the hurricane messing with the schedule.
Houston scored the first 13 points and never really looked back. Steve Slaton, who led the AFC that year in yards from scrimmage, looked terrific. The rookie ran for 130 yards and two TDs. He had a 46-yard reception and a 40-yard touchdown run. He was masterful. Had injuries not killed his chances to keep playing at that level, we might be talking about one of the greatest Texans.
On the other side of the ball, Mario Williams was earning the name ‘Monday Night Mario.’ A year before, he racked up 3.5 sacks as the Texans got their first primetime win in a Thursday-nighter over Denver. This time he had three sacks on David Garrard in front of the national audience.
Most importantly, the win set up a nice finish to the season for the Texans. Schaub came back, as the team won three of its last four, including the memorable victory at Green Bay.
The win over Jacksonville was the first Monday night triumph for the Texans. It was part of a big comeback from a bad start. And it opened eyes that the Texans were building a strong offense. They finished third that year and would finish no lower than fourth over a three-season span.