Texans-Colts: The New "Biggest Game in Texans History"
"This is the BIGGEST game in Texans history!"
Photos by Marco Torres Fun for your entertainment dollar!!
-- Numerous media members and fans before any number of October and November games the last ten years
For the first nine seasons of their existence, a time when the Texans rarely carried any mathematical relevance in the playoff race into November much less December, it felt like the Texans would have one game (maybe two) each season that delusional fans and hype-starved media members would deem "the biggest game in Texans history!!"
Most of the time, it was an October game against the Colts, or perhaps a September game after a 2-0 start (The Texans didn't have their first 3-0 start until 2012). Rest assured, it was some game that would make most fans in other cities laugh at us if they knew we were hyperbolizing so.
Finally, in 2011, actual "BIG" games (by most teams' definition) began to occur -- games that had playoff implications, games in December. And promptly those games shoved aside everything on the list from 2002 through 2010.
But the truth is, if you're a team that aspires to get to the Super Bowl (and who doesn't?), then unless it's a Super Bowl or a conference championship game, the magnitude of a particular game is often better evaluated in hindsight, judging whatever chain of events ensued afterwards.
That is especially the case with a team that's only existed for 12 seasons like the Texans, and here's why I say that -- given the following:
1. The Texans have never been to a Super Bowl or even a conference title game. In fact, they've only been to the playoffs twice and neither time have they really done anything of substance. (Granted, just getting to the playoffs was a major accomplishment for this team, given its largely mediocre on-field history prior to 2011.)
2. The team is currently in a five-game tailspin (average loss margin of 16 points per game) where they're now openly experimenting with a quarterback who had never taken an NFL snap until a little over a week ago.
She seems unconvinced about playoff chances.
3. Oddly enough, said quarterback (an undrafted free agent in 2012, by the way) is clearly their best option at this point, and it's not even really up for debate, which is a complete indictment on the former starter and the head coach.
4. Seven years and seven games in, this is undoubtedly the lowest point of the Gary Kubiak Era (which is saying something, considering Kubiak's is an era famous for its numerous low points), and a large part of the failure has been because of Matt Schaub's play at quarterback and Kubiak's conservativeness and resistance to making a change (until finally forced to, by a Week 6 injury to Schaub, in Week 7).
Given all of that, I think you could make an argument that the biggest game in Texans history, IN RETROSPECT, was the 37-9 win over Tampa Bay in 2011. That was the game that Matt Schaub suffered the Lisfranc injury to his foot, which knocked him out for the rest of the season.
That game set in motion the entire narrative that we all know by now:
"Wow, the Texans went on to win the division, win a playoff game and compete with the Ravens toe to toe in a divisional game WITHOUT MATT SCHAUB. Holy moly, can you imagine if they had had Matt Schaub? The Texans would have made the Super Bowl! Matt Schaub is AMAZING! He's MAGICAL! He needs an extension! A $62 MILLION EXTENSION! Cal, somebody get me my checkbook!"
(Somehow, that faux narrative went from generic third person to Hypothetical Bob McNair. Not sure how that happened. Anyway...)
Indeed, somehow while injured, Matt Schaub morphed into Tom Brady's younger brother.
In retrospect, the injury to and ensuing absence of Schaub, and then the subsequent pluckiness of a success-starved franchise getting to the second-round playoffs in January 2012 created the illusion of Schaub being the missing variable, which then triggered a totally unnecessary contract extension just before the 2012 season, done mostly for the sake of "making Matt comfortable."