It was Christmas Eve. The Texans were coming off a come-from-behind win over the Jags that put them in position to win the AFC South. That was no small feat considering that after a 6-3 start, Houston lost three consecutive games and was in danger of dropping out of the race.
But the team rallied to beat Indy on the road for the second-consecutive year, then Jacksonville.
There was plenty of NFL action that day as the league scheduled heavily on Christmas Eve Saturday to avoid playing too many games on Christmas. Among the games was Jacksonville’s stunning upset of a potentially playoff-bound Tennessee team. The Titans loss opened the door for Houston to win the division that night.
The air was thick with excitement. The crowd wanted a big celebration. It was iffy for much of the night. Cincinnati took the lead in the fourth quarter on an 86-yard TD pass to Brandon LeFell. That play will be best remembered for Jadeveon Clowney nearly running him down.
There was plenty of time left. Houston grabbed the lead on a 24-yard touchdown run by Alfred Blue midway through the fourth quarter. The teams traded punts. Then the Bengals went on an 80-yard march to set up former Texan Randy Bullock for a 43-yard field goal for the win. Hearts sank as the thought of a former Texan playing the role of the Grinch seemed so unfair.
But Bullock’s kick went wide right and the Texans celebrated joyously as they clinched the division for the second-straight year.
A football season is a long journey. And there are certain moments we take with us no matter what. This one stands out as a huge release of emotion following a tough stretch run of that game and that season.
The Texans ultimately lost a hard-fought divisional playoff game at New England. But we’ll always remember the night they gave us a division title on Christmas Eve.