Welcome back to the playoffs!
Your Texans have scratched and clawed their way back from the abyss of a 2-5 start to get the opportunity to host a postseason game for the third time in franchise history. The win over Jacksonville capped an unforgettable 7-2 regular season finish to put the Texans back on top of the AFC South for the first time in three seasons.
If you take a 30,000 foot view of the franchise you'll see a team that's been to the playoffs in three of the last five years with four winning seasons during that span. Not even a quarter of NFL franchises can make that claim. It's been a steep climb to get back to retake the division after the 2-14 meltdown in 2013 but the Texans pulled together under Bill O'Brien to make it happen in his second year as head coach.
O'Brien is a winner. He inherited a two win team, reshaped it to play his style of football and found a way to succeed with quarterback issues that would have crippled most teams. He will certainly credit the staff and players and they deserve it. But O'Brien steered the ship out of the storm of a horrific start. Outsiders keep talking about getting stability at quarterback in the future but this 2015 journey is far from over and no one with the squad is thinking beyond the next outing.
You can't call this division championship the sweetest of the three because the first one holds the crown for now. But considering the level of adversity, no matter how it was created, this one stands apart. Yes, the 2011 team had to start a rookie quarterback down the stretch but you might not have realized that team had 16 players who either had been to a Pro Bowl or would eventually go to one. Sixteen!
The 2012 AFC South Champions were a strong team that started 11-1, clinched with two games to go and won a playoff game at home. However, their story will always include losing their last two games and letting home field advantage throughout the playoffs slip through their fingers. No one should ever downplay a division title and playoff win but the 2012 season fell short of goals and expectations.
These 2015 Texans dug themselves a shallow football grave by going three games below .500 close to the midway point, including the two horrifying losses to Atlanta and Miami. Then they put together an intense and decisive rally that will forever be used as an example for any future Texans team that gets off to a rough start. Add Texans folk hero T.J. Yates and former Dallas Cowboy DeAndre Hopkins to the mix and you have a comeback of legendary proportions.
And the defense should be hailed for logging some stellar performances during the run including the two biggest wins of the season, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. The combined 16 points allowed in those two games will be a tough act to follow in the playoffs but they'll need similar results for the Texans to stick around beyond the first weekend.
The fact that we are here at all is nothing short of amazing considering how this campaign got started. No matter what happens from here, the 2015 Texans are a great example of what is possible when a group comes together, fights off a din of distraction and negativity on its way to accomplishing a collective goal.
Check out the snapshots from the Week 17 matchup between the Texans and Jaguars.