I remember in the early days of the Texans how former GM Charley Casserly would act when the Cowboys were around. Having worked with Washington for so many years, his sports-hatred ran deep.
[Writers Note: Sports-hate, in my opinion, is healthy. We're not talking about real hate, we're talking about when you genuinely don't like a team because they've broken your heart and made you miserable in a sporting context. I feel this is important to point out because there's too much real hate in the world. Now, please keep reading.]
I'm sure Charley knew many people in the Cowboys organization well and it was nothing personal (I think). But for a long while, Redskins-Cowboys was considered the best rivalry in the NFL, with so many moments fueling the mutual disdain between the two organizations.
So, witnessing this in '02, I wondered who I might feel this way about in my role with the Texans.
Tennessee seemed a natural fit. There were still many Titans fans in Houston. This didn't make sense to me. It seemed like rooting for your ex-girlfriend after she leaves town with another guy and crushes your soul.
Well, after a few years, that answer revealed itself in sharp clarity. It was the Colts.
Calling a game in the booth, there was nothing more frustrating than watching Peyton Manning taking his sweet time at the line of scrimmage while the defense atrophied, waiting for him to eventually snap the ball. He then would proceed to find any one of his pass-catching assassins, driving nails into your coffin with every third down conversion.
The games at the RCA Dome felt like your team was being tossed into a shark tank. It was deafening. The Texans record was 0-6 in that house of horrors. The average margin of defeat was by 18 points. And Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney made life as miserable for the Texans offense as Manning and company did for the defense.
That's why one of the best feelings I've had in this profession was calling the Texans first win over Indy on December 24, 2006 at NRG Stadium. Unfortunately, that was the only one in the first 16 games!
This is the Colts we're talking about. The 'Rosencopter' game was against them. That was in 2008, when the Colts came back from a 17-point deficit with eight minutes to go. The following season, the Texans missed a field goal at the buzzer in Indy that would have sent the game into overtime. Two weeks later, the Colts came back from another 17-point deficit here to smash what was left of my central nervous system. I can feel my blood boiling as I type this.
Things got a little better after that. Another feeling of elation was Arian Foster running all over the horseshoe-wearing bunch with 231 yards in the 2010 opener. And a top 3 entry on my favorite-wins-in-team-history list is the first victory at Indy when the defense rose up and willed the team to a 16-10 triumph.
And the reason why that one felt so great is that so many of the losses have been just about unbearable. The 2011 Texans, with the number two defense in the league, playing for a possible bye, lost a Week 16 Thursday night game in Indianapolis with former Texan Dan Orlovsky at the helm of the Colts.
Four years later, Matt Hasslebeck, experiencing a Montezuma's Revenge type of illness, defeated Houston on a Thursday-nighter, throwing two TDs to (uggh) Andre Johnson. Two years after that, Jacoby Brissett won his two starts against the injury-decimated Texans in last year's campaign.
Indianapolis is 26-8 against the Texans. Is it any wonder why I hate this team?!
The Bill O'Brien era has seen MUCH better results against the all-time Texans nemesis, especially on the road where the coach is 3-2 at Lucas Oil Stadium. And O'Brien is 3-3 against Indy teams led by Andrew Luck.
Now, here comes a gigantic moment. The first postseason matchup between these two squads. I think there could be many, as long as these two quarterbacks are around.
It's a new era. Luck is back and better than ever. But the Texans have their best weapon at quarterback since the series began. The stage is set. The anticipation is delightfully excruciating. History will be made.
Check out the best Week 17 images from Texans team photographer Zach Tarrant. Presented by Houston Methodist.