Colts 27, Texans 24: And That Will Just About Do It for 2013
"What if I told you that a desperate team would play its best half of football in over a year, only to have the happiness taken away in an instant in the scariest way possible?" -- ESPN "30 for 30" Voice Guy on the eventual ad for the inevitable documentary on this bizarre Texans season
Photos by Marco Torres Here comes the frustration.
As a Texans fan and a human being, how do you process what happened on Sunday night at Reliant Stadium?
Yes, the Houston Texans found yet another way to lose a football game on national television. This time it was a Randy Bullock missed field goal as time expired (a 2009 Special, as I call it) giving the Indianapolis Colts an improbable, but at this point unsurprising, 27-24 win.
As high as this city's hopes were going into the season, Super Bowl or bust, it would seem to be almost impossible for anything that could happen Sunday night to overshadow the drastic football effects of a Texans loss.
So naturally, in a season where the painful has become the norm, when the Texans have sprinted past every boundary of "finding ways to lose" heretofore set by prior Texans teams, on this night their head coach would have what appeared at the time to be a chilling, for-all-we-knew near-death episode heading into the locker room at halftime.
That apparently is how you overshadow the actual football outcome of a game.
Sunday night's game will be lamented for the usual mountain of special teams gaffes, missed field goals, and offensive impotence in the second half. Sunday night itself will be remembered, in a macabre way, for Gary Kubiak's frightening issue at halftime, where it appeared he may have had a heart attack and wound up being stretchered to an ambulance and rushed to a local hospital.
In the end, Kubiak's trip to the hospital was reportedly precautionary, and the second half of the game was in effect the same as the second half of the last five games, which is to say it was depressing.
So how do we process it?
To ignore the human element of 46 men and a coaching staff trying to reassemble and organize after finding out their leader had something happen to him, something appearing to do with his heart, would be unfair. There are a lot of things you can say about Gary Kubiak, and in this space I've flung around many of them this season, but one thing is unequivocally true -- his players love the man.
Photo by Groovehouse Different game, same fan reaction at Reliant.
Every player that I've spoken to who's played for Kubiak privately swears by him. They swear that he is their favorite coach they've played for, and that the sometimes infuriatingly bland, conservative guy we see after games and on Monday afternoons is different from the one they see behind the scenes, at practice, before games.
As one example I can give you (and there are many), recently I was having a conversation with former Texans tight end Bennie Joppru, who was a second round pick in 2003 and was injured for much of his Texans career. (His Twitter bio even admits it in the first two words: "NFL BUST.") Joppru only played for Kubiak for a few weeks to start the 2006 season before Kubiak cut him.
Unsolicited, Joppru told me that Kubiak, the man who gave him his walking papers after just a few games, was his favorite coach he ever played for.
That's pretty strong.
So I don't want to disregard the human element and the deleterious effect it may have had on the Texans' performance in the second half Sunday night. I don't.
But how can I say, "That was the reason they lost" when the second half of this game looked precisely like the second half of every game since the team's 2-0 start? With Gary gone, all of the byproducts of his indecision were left to crater the Texans' 2013 once and for all, namely a special teams unit that blocked a field goal and a punt yet still managed to garner a failing grade for the game.
And yet, come Monday, special teams coach Joe Marciano will still have an office.