Congratulations! We've made it through the early part of Texans Camp and now comes the really fun part – GAMES!
I say 'we've made it' as if it was some kind of effort to stand in the hot sun watching the team practice. It's really the players and coaches doing all of the heavy lifting. I watched Sunday's session with Johnathan Joseph and he told me it's tough going against your own team so much and eventually you just want to hit a real opponent.
Well, bring on New Orleans. Those pesky Saints are back. And the Texans have faced them in the preseason since the very beginning, 20 years ago.
You know I love to talk about Texan history – here's some highlights, in one case a lowlight, of preseason games against this squad –
- The first ever Texans victory of any kind was against New Orleans. That's right, it was in the Superdome and the final was 13-10. It felt like a playoff win. Jonathan Wells (who we had on Texans Radio last week, it was a blast) had 10 carries for 50 yards and a touchdown.
- The first time the Texans did a series of joint road practices was at New Orleans in 2008. The ensuing game was a preseason barn-burner with Drew Brees and Matt Schaub playing a ton. Steve Slaton scored and Kevin Walter caught six passes for 100 yards and a TD. It was an August football treat.
- In 2015, the Hard Knocks year, the Texans had a dominating win including three carries by popular defensive back Charles James who had a 73-yard TD wiped out by a hold. But his teammates still celebrated because…why not?
- In 2017, the Texans grinded through a game at New Orleans with the knowledge that Hurricane Harvey was pelting Houston. The team would fly to Dallas that night and watch and wait for a chance to get home and help.
When you talk about geographically close rivals, the Saints are so different from the Cowboys. They almost feel like and NFC sister team. Like Dallas, we only see them every four years. And the games have been competitive.
The 2011 and 2019 tilts at the Superdome were epics that saw Houston lead in the fourth quarter and fall short. The two Drew Brees appearances at NRG were Texans wins with a terrific performance in '07 and the T.J. Yates led victory in '14 (and don't worry Cecil, I wasn't going to forget about that 'Shorts to Alfred Blue' trick play TD pass!)
The only time Brees beat the Texans in Houston was with the Chargers in the '04 opener. Long-time fans remember the lights going out for a few moments in the fourth quarter of that one. That kind of thing is unforgettable to me because no power = no radio. I can't do it by simply shouting out the window.
Jameis Winston is now the main man with the Saints. Houston beat him here in his rookie year in '15 and again at Tampa in '19. Lovie Smith was coaching Jameis the last time he played quarterback in this stadium (Tampa Bay gave up on Smith too fast. Didn't let him build the program up).
Whoever is out on the field Saturday it'll be fun. It's the opener. It's a home game. It's Texans football. Let's go!