The 2020 season came to a gut-busting end on Sunday as the Tennessee Titans outlasted the Houston Texans 41-38, losing to the Titans on the last play of the game... again. But, at NRG Stadium, another game came to mind that rivaled the feeling in this one. Here are my Harris Hits from the end of the 2020 Season.
My first year back in Houston was 2007, and I covered the Texans for another radio station. I have always loved NFL Sundays, especially in the middle of fall. So, on October 21, 2007, I strode into NRG Stadium and watched the Texans play the worst three quarters of football I had ever seen. If I didn't have postgame-locker-room-gathering sound duties, I would've bailed after another Rob Bironas field goal. But, in staying, I saw an amazing comeback that lead to a Texans roar-back with 29 fourth quarter points to take the lead. At one point, they actually recovered consecutive on-side kickoffs, the first of which was called back due to penalty. After the second one, Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels threw a bomb touchdown to Andre Davis and the press box, at that point nearly barren, went nuts. It's a long standing rule that the press box can't cheer, but the eruption was more out of amazement than anything else. Then, Tennessee quarterback Kerry Collins threw deep on third and ten to Roydell Williams for 46 yards to set up a record eighth Titans field goal by the late Rob Bironas to beat the Texans 38-36.
Sunday afternoon's loss hurt WAY worse than that. Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown will live right alongside Collins to Williams. Sam Sloman is the new Rob Bironas. Ugh... painful.
I thought so much about this one game, combined with this 2020 season, and I realized what it is about football, and the NFL, that we love so much. I could only stand to watch that team celebrate on our field, but I had to for a few minutes. Then, I remembered what it was like when the Texans did that in 2016 after the win over the Bengals. I remembered being in the locker room in Tampa Bay after winning the AFC South last year. Those were highs that are incredibly hard to describe in full, yet trying to describe the lowest of the lows…
"Look... That's PAIN"... In a football sense, of course. That emotion that all of us put into the wins and the losses... That's what makes this whole thing just awesome. This one stung, but with football, a positive is coming soon.
I don't know how to really describe the 2020 season, but week 17 made it pretty easy. That over three-hour game against the Titans encapsulated it perfectly. The ups and downs replicated this season during a pandemic, and the finish was gory, but as soon as the last Texan player walked off the field, the 2020 season finally ended and the sun arose on Monday morning. There will be a new regime coming to Houston and number four is coming back.
How good has Deshaun Watson been this year? Other than just saying very, let's count the ways:
- Broke the Texans record for season passing yards (4,823 yards);
- Broke the Texans record for season touchdown passes (33);
- Ran for 444 yards and three touchdowns (he was second on the team in rushing);
- Over the last 14 games, he had a QB rating lower than 100 just TWICE - one game against Indy when he threw for 341 yards and completed 68% of his passes and in Cleveland in rain/sleet and 35 mph winds;
- Over the final five games, he didn't have Will Fuller V (suspended), Kenny Stills (released) and Randall Cobb (injured). Yet, he threw nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. He averaged 324.4 yards per game and had an average 111.6 passer rating without that firepower at receiver;
- He completed 65%+ of his passes 13 times AND averaged 8.9 yards per attempt, which was one of the best in the league;
- His season AVERAGE completion percentage - 70.2%;
- He had one game without a touchdown pass and in the final 14 games, he had multiple touchdown games ten times;
- His running game finished 31st in the NFL this season;
- His defense was 31st overall in the NFL this season;
- His defense generated just nine turnovers this season;
- His offense generated 0.409 points per play - that was 12th in the NFL - only two non-playoff teams finished in front of them and they had seven and eight wins;
- His offense was FIRST in the NFL in yards per play (6.4 yards per play). In a ten win season in 2019, the Texans were 12th;
- Over the last three games of the season, his offense AVERAGED 7.7 yards per play - again FIRST in the NFL.
To say Watson was/is great is the understatement of the entire COVID-adled season.
J.J. Watt had two tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits on Sunday and, as I had expected, led, or tied for the lead, in every single major defensive category in 2020, other than overall tackles. It wasn't Watt's greatest season and he'd be the first to tell you that, especially as the defense struggled throughout the year, but Watt played at a high level throughout the difficult 2020 campaign. 52 tackles, 16 QB hits, 14 TFL, 5.0 sacks, one INT, one TD, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery in his tenth season at the age of 31. Just incredible, and it's an honor to watch Watt and Watson every single day, much less every single Sunday.
You know, that's about it for the 2020 season. The loss to Tennessee stung like the one to the Browns, the Colts...TWICE, the other Titans game, the... Well, you get the point. A new regime is on its way and the future is far from dark. A HUGE, MASSIVE thanks to all of you for the INCREDIBLE support all season long. We'll be back and it's going to be glorious when it happens.
Houston Texans take on the Tennessee Titans in Week 17 of the 2020 NFL Season.