Matt Schaub (Getty Images)
If you asked anyone in the Texans organization if they would be happy before the season if the team was 6-7 after 13 games, you would probably receive a resounding no. Still, with an 0-4 start and a 3-7 record after 10 games, Houston is now playing their best football of the season, and they hope to take that momentum into next year.
“I don’t think you ever sit there at 0-4 and say, ‘O.k. I envision us being 6-7 after 13 weeks.’ I don’t think you do that, Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. “I just think you’re figuring out how do we get better the next game, how do we play better the next football game. That’s what we stayed focused on.”
These Texans have battled through a disastrous hurricane which forced them to play on the road for the first month of the season, a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts, and severe injuries to key starters all throughout the season.
“I’ve told you guys, this is a special group,” Kubiak said. “What they’ve been through, going back to the early first months of the season, not only how tough the schedule was and that situation, but also going through the Mother Nature issue, it was very difficult. I’ve been in some situations with other teams, and some teams never come out of that, but these guys keep working and that’s why they’re going to get there some day because it’s never been an issue with them how hard they go about their business, how hard they work. My hats off to them. We started slow, played well, struggled a couple weeks, now we bounced back for a couple weeks. I’m just looking forward to the last month of the season.”
In the Texans last three games, they’ve traveled to the cold weather and beat Cleveland, won their first ever Monday night game against Jacksonville, then won in frigid Green Bay, where they battled temperatures that were near zero.
“We played some good football at times and lost,” Kubiak said. “You look at Jacksonville. You look at Indy, back at Indy again. We played good football in those games and got beat. We went to Cleveland and yesterday we did some things that could have gotten us beat in those games and found a way to win. I think you just make sure it’s one week at a time. I know it’s an old cliché, but if you get any further focused than that you’re probably not going to play very well.”
With Matt Schaub playing his first game in four weeks as he came back from a knee injury, he threw for 414 yards and two touchdowns, and led his team down the field from their own three-yard line for the game-winning field goal with just 1:49 remaining on the clock.
“I don’t know if I could imagine any quarterback going in there in that temperature and in that place and throwing for 414 yards, I think it was that he threw for,” Kubiak said. “He showed a little rust early. Actually after the first touchdown pass, he missed a few throws. The good thing: it wasn’t windy yesterday. That was a positive and he just kept playing. The thing I was impressed with was even when he missed some throws, he missed them in the right place. He had one play he’d like to have back but was very consistent throughout the day, very competitive, took some shots, made some great plays. Had total command of the group and total command of the group under a lot of pressure there at the end of the football game. I know he was chomping at the bit to get back on the field and it’s a big step in the right direction for him.”
Coach Kubiak didn’t understate the importance of Sunday’s win—
“I don’t know how to put a number on it,” Kubiak explained. “I know it’s just feeling our football team. We talked about coming off of our first Monday Night football game as an organization—that was an important step for the players and this group. We said Saturday night if we could turn around six days later and go to a place like Green Bay in a very difficult environment, tough conditions, and there was probably another level of respect out there for us as a football team and franchise and that continues to hold true as we work into this weekend. So, it’s just nice to get that win. It’s a very difficult place to play. We have not been very good on the road and to overcome the adversity that we overcame to win, it was a very good feeling in that locker room. It’s a step in the right direction. We’ve just got to continue to work at it.”
The Texans will have an opportunity, albeit a difficult one, to avenge an early season loss to the Tennessee Titans and even their record at 7-7. The Titans lead the NFL with a 12-1 record, but nobody should count out Houston on Sunday, as they are one of the hottest teams in the NFL.