Texans' Championship Quality Attitude Makes AFC South Race More Interesting
As if beating the Indianapolis Colts for just the second time in franchise history in the 2010 regular-season opener wasn't enough, the Texans followed that up this past Sunday with one of the most dramatic victories in franchise history.
The Texans, after trailing by 17 points late in the third quarter, rallied for a 30-27 victory in overtime over the Washington Redskins.
If the opener was about glory, Texans coach Gary Kubiak said the second game was about guts.
"The character of the team got tested," Kubiak said afterward. "There was no panic at halftime. There were a lot of mad football players and coaches, but there was no panic. It was just about doing the job and staying after it, and we did."
The victory put the Texans in sole possession of the AFC South, the first time in franchise history they have had the lead alone two weeks into the season.
The Texans never have made the playoffs, and their 9-7 record last season was their first winning record in franchise history. Because of that, they entered the season with high hopes, and Kubiak after the Washington game had the sound of a coach looking for much more than a quick start.
Houston in recent seasons has had talent, and it has had the look for several seasons of a team that was very, very close to being a legitimate post-season contender. They led the Colts by 17 points at home each of the last two seasons before losing and could have beaten Indianapolis in any of its meetings over the last two seasons.
They controlled the opener against the Colts and won by double digits, and perhaps most significantly, they followed that up not with a loss but with a game that Kubiak said showed character and fight.
"It didn't look good," Kubiak said. "Just the character of the group to respond to stuff like that and the adversity, I'm just very very proud."
As telling, perhaps, were the words of defensive end Mario Williams.
"We're not going to let a win get us all excited like we won the Super Bowl or something like that," Williams said. "It definitely feels good, but we can't let it stretch over into the next game."
That's the right thing to say, and while it may sound like a cliche, the Texans are also starting to look like a team taking that approach -- that one game is no more important than the next, and that the ultimate goal awaits months away.
That's not an easy place for a team to reach. The Colts in recent seasons have dominated the AFC South for many reasons, but one often overlooked reason is not only their ability to win games despite being outplayed at times early, but to approach seasons with consistency.
The Texans perhaps are beginning to show the same traits, and that could make the AFC South race more interesting than many anticipated this season.