The bar is much higher for the Texans than winning the AFC South. But the division title is the first step toward their ultimate goal and they took care of business Saturday in a 23-20 victory at Tampa Bay that got the job done.
The game couldn't have started any better. Bradley Roby returned a pick for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. Justin Reid followed with another interception that produced a field goal. Eventually the Texans led 17-3 in the second quarter.
But the Bucs made a run of two consecutive touchdowns to tie the game at the break, as the Houston offense had trouble finding rhythm. The opening drive of the third quarter put the Texans in Tampa Bay territory but they had to settle for a field goal from Ka'imi Fairbairn, who was 3 for 3 on the day.
The Buccaneers answered with a field goal of their own to make it 20-20 late in the third quarter.
Even though the defense rode the takeaway train early in the game, it was time to step up and extinguish the Tampa Bay offense, which had scored on three consecutive possessions.
The D came through, forcing a punt, getting the ball on downs and ending the Bucs' crunch time threat with a Jahleel Addae interception, the fourth of the game for the Texans.
As Bill O'Brien might say, they won't send this game tape to Canton. Both teams made errors and it turned into a battle of wills and survival. The Buccaneers were piping hot coming into the game, having won four in a row and five of six. But Houston powered through adversity and once again made the big plays down the stretch with the game on the line.
There were milestones hit, like DeAndre Hopkins registering his third 100 catch season and Johnathan Joseph becoming the franchise all-time interception leader. There were numerous players banged up. It's going to be interesting to see how O'Brien handles the regular season finale against the Titans.
This day should be remembered for your Texans gutting out a victory to get their fourth AFC South title in five years. This is no small feat. Now they want to make the most of it as they head into January.