Five weeks ago, the Texans dropped a game to Cincinnati and Bill O'Brien said they would probably have to win all their remaining games to make the playoffs.
He was right. Barely.
On a wild afternoon at NRG Stadium, Houston would get excruciatingly close to the postseason, beating Jacksonville 23-17 and getting more help in the final weeks of the season than many thought possible. But offensively challenged Cleveland couldn't overtake Baltimore, blowing a fourth quarter lead and sending Houston into the off season.
Don't blame the Browns. They did all they could. And the Texans will be the first to tell you that had they taken care of some extra business along the campaign trail, they would have been playing in January. But a winning season is a nice achievement and very positive start to the Bill O'Brien era.
The victory over the Jags was no gimme. The Texans had to come from behind twice and hold on for dear life after Jacksonville had a first and goal late in the game.
It's fitting that the defense had to make the big plays in the end. They looked playoff ready during the back half of the season, holding opponents to under 16 points per game in the last seven outings. That, ladies and gentlemen, is big time D.
J.J. Watt ignited the crowd with three sacks including the put down for a safety in the fourth quarter. It's appropriate that Andre Johnson, who added to his NFL record of 10 catch, 100 yard games, gave Watt a strong endorsement for MVP after the game.
While the offense wasn't going to rewrite the team stats record books, what Bill O'Brien and his staff cooked up the last two weeks with Case Keenum was outstanding. They kept the Ravens and Jags off balance with different looks and formations, including the 'Wildcat,' and got two winning performances out of a quarterback who went 0-8 as a starter last year.
This was a fun finish to a rollercoaster ride. Too many media types wrote off the season a month ago but the Texans weren't having it. While they didn't get what they wanted, they showed their heart and stayed alive until the last half of the last quarter in a game they weren't playing, in Baltimore.
Next year, they'll be determined to control their own fate. And we can't wait.