The Texans finale against the Colts was a little like their entire season; a promising first half and a second half we'd like to forget.
We'll get to the game in a moment. Let us pause and reflect that the Texans used 78 players this year. That's the most since 1999 for any NFL team and it might be an all-time record but the NFL doesn't track such things into the last century.
To say it's been a frustrating year is a bit of an understatement. As Andre Ware and I took our final walk out of Lucas Oil Stadium, we reminisced about the way we felt seeing Deshaun Watson play. Even losses weren't as painful.
After the exhilaration of experiencing the Watson-led Texans you knew it was going to be tough to go back to the formula that created a franchise record three consecutive winning seasons prior to this one. And winning that way is easier said than done.
Obviously losing Watson was an epic blow to point production. But the Texans were already hurting on defense with J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus getting injured on the same drive and Brian Cushing getting suspended. This made it difficult for the annual second half defensive improvement that we had seen from 2014-2016 kick in.
The Texans just couldn't get over the hump in closely contested games like the Colts (2x), the Titans on the road, the Ravens and the 49ers. These were the kind of games they were winning in recent years. A play here and there and these outings could have easily gone in their favor.
Plus, the division is just better. Jacksonville and Tennessee are completely different than they were two and three years ago. Even Indy, as bad as the record is, lost seven of 12 games by one score.
None of this matters anymore. It's over and the Texans need to build for the future. Getting the injured players back will alone make the Texans better. But they'll need to improve wholesale if they want to get back on schedule and eclipse what they did in 2016.
The season capper with the Colts was not exactly a thriller. The Texans had their chances and led 13-7 at the break. But the run defense started to crack and the offense stalled as the Colts reeled off 15 unanswered points to end the contest.
Now 2018 kicks in with a lot of room for improvement. There's no doubt Houston will be miles better than this campaign we just put to bed.
The outside world will buzz about Watson, Whitney and Watt returning. But the Texans know they will have to get better in every possible way to take the desired quantum leap forward.
The Texans and Colts squared off in Week 17 at Lucas Oil Stadium.