They ran trick plays, they ran screen plays, they ran passing plays, and they ran all over the Houston Texans. Nobody really expected the visiting Carolina Panthers to manhandle the Texans the way that they did. Sure, the game would be a tough one but having the advantage of the “12th Man” combined with the leagues top defense was supposed to be enough for the Texans to overcome the struggling Panthers…but it was not.
Now the Texans are looking up at the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens hoping that they can wrestle away the first or second seed from of those two teams. However, the chances are slim that either the Patriots or Ravens will relinquish control of the playoff picture and the Texans will have to play much better football if they want to stand a chance in the postseason.
This game was a wake-up call for the Texans who have been riding a wave of victories for the last two months. Having your butt handed to you, by a lesser team, in your home stadium is a truly humbling experience, as voiced by many of the Texans.
DE Antonio Smith was the first player to vocalize what this loss meant for the team:
"It is a wake-up call, and it’s up to us as leaders to let our team know what exactly this game is…I wouldn’t say it has to happen, but if it does happen, it’s needed for you to be battle-tested in a situation like this, for us to grow as a team. You got to take your knucks. You got to take your hits on the chin."
ILB Brian Cushing echoed the sentiments of Smith when he stated:
"We got beat up physically, we got beat up as a football team and we lost the game. That’s something we’re going to have to respond to. This is something tough to swallow but it’s humbling, and this team is going to be motivated. There’s no question about it. It’s a good thing that this week’s short, because this team’s going to be ready."
Maybe this loss is exactly what the Texans needed.
I know it sounds crazy, and I must admit that I am feeling a little regret just writing this, but having a loss now is a good thing for the Texans.
For the last decade the Texans have come up short of the playoffs and the biggest part of that was that they were never able to overcome adversity and losses when they needed it most. They would lose a game, and then two, and the punishment would just continue. They could never regain their rhythm and ended up flopping late in the season.
This year, however, I truly believe that the Texans are going to overcome. This loss awakened a sense of urgency in the team and reminded them that they are mortal. They can be, and were, beaten by a lesser team. They can lose in their home stadium. But can they overcome?
The Texans have a short week this week as they prepare to face the Indianapolis Colts – in Indianapolis no less. The Texans have NEVER won a game in Indianapolis. Sure, the past decade has been dominated by a Peyton Manning led Colts team but the Texans have always come up short nonetheless. This year must be different!
Going into Indianapolis is never easy, going in their with a giant target painted on you is even harder. Do not think for one minute that the Colts will not be looking to demoralize the AFC South champions. Do not think that they are not pouring over hours of film footage to see how the Panthers dominated us. Do not think for one minute that the Texans are not aware of this.
Indian poet, playwright, essayist, and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore put it best when he said:
"“We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.”"
This is what the Texans needed to be reminded of how great they are. For years they have been downtrodden, underestimated, and rejected but this year they have achieved greatness. Now they must embrace a moment of humility and reach, once more, for greatness!