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Texans Cage Bears, Lowly Jags Loom

Houston remains on top of AFC
Barrett Walton, 1:48pm, Fri. Nov. 16, 2012
What does it mean to be validated? How can you quantify “making it," “arriving," “breaking-through”?

Many will make the argument that the Houston Texans have accomplished all of those things by winning a nasty, physical, smash-mouth game against the uber scary “monsters of the midway."

That couldnʼt be further from the truth.

Iʼll make my point short and sweet and then get down off of my “Kubiak is awesome” soap box.

What makes this team competitive is that they donʼt believe in any of those descriptors listed above. You wonʼt hear anybody dropping “dream team” bombs or making Super Bowl predictions on this team after beating the now 7-2 Chicago Bears.

Led by head coach Gary Kubiak since 2006, the Texans are workers. Hard, hard workers. Kubiakʼs humble and diligent approach wonʼt capture headlines or make the sports highlights, but it will win football games. One thing that Kubiak is constantly instilling in his team is the mentality that it is hard to win football games in the National Football League. He preaches that itʼs even harder to win them consistently. You donʼt “arrive."

You donʼt find validation in a victory. As soon as you think youʼve “made it," youʼve lost it. Focused, dedicated, efficient, and humble, this football team proved little to themselves Sunday night only because they already knew what they were made of before they stepped foot on the soggy sod of Soldier Field.

They knew they were tough. They knew they were physical. They knew they were going to be the more efficient team in poor weather against a team that would try to focus on taking the ball away. So when the Texans walked off the field with the 13-6 win, they werenʼt validated. They were 1-0.

As for the fans and the national media, this game proved much about the quiet little football team from Houston. From the first kickoff you had to wonder which Texans team had made the trip. As rookie returner Keshawn Martin was tackled on the initial play from scrimmage, the football came squirting out. Texans Nation had to think, “Oh no, here comes another prime-time let down, similar to Aaron Rodgersʼ coming out party in week six”.

Fortunately, Martin was down before the ball came out. Houston went three and out on the first series.

Matt Schaub always seems a bit tentative early on in prime-time games. It seems like it takes him a few series to get comfortable. The rain on Sunday certainly didnʼt help as Houston had uncharacteristic drops at key moments by wide receiver Kevin Walter and second-year tight end, Garrett Graham.

Schaub threw two interceptions early in the game but the first one came only when rookie wide receiver Keshawn Martin slipped while cutting and fell down, leaving the Chicago defender with an easy pick.

Houston settled down and found a way to be the more efficient team, minimizing their mistakes and capitalizing on the very few opportunities they had. The Texans scored on their lone trip into the red zone when Arian Foster made a truly incredible catch for the games only touchdown. That seven points proved to be the difference in the game.

Houston showed that they had the more physical defense, beating the Bears at their own game. Wade Phillipsʼ defense forced four turnovers as they held the opposition without a touchdown for the second straight week.

Chicago transplant Danielle Manning started it off with a huge hit on tight end Kellen Davis on the Bears first offensive snap. Cutler threw a pass to Davis who turned upfield to run only to meet Manning head on. As the two collided the football came flying out – the turnovers didnʼt stop there. The Texans forced Chicago to cough it up on the first three possessions, winning the turnover battle in a game where, as I predicted, the team that would make the fewest mistakes would win the football game.

This was a satisfying win for Texans fans, and Iʼm sure the team was happy to get the win but I keep saying it, and it keeps being true, this Texans team will be defined by their consistency.

If they proved anything Sunday night on the national stage, they proved that they are consistently the best team on the field on any given Sunday. Unless that Sunday should happen to fall in mid-October against the best quarterback in the league.

Sometimes losing a game is a good thing. Maybe the Chicago Bears can use that line of thinking this week.

Next Sunday Houston begins its magical stretch of three games in 14 days as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars before traveling to Detroit for Thanksgiving day and then down to Tennessee to face the Flaming Thumbtacks.

The test this Sunday is purely mental. The 1-8 Jaguars are without their best player, Maurice Jones-Drew, who is still recovering from a foot injury. This is a perfect setup for a letdown game. Houston is coming off a big win and it would be easy to overlook the Jaguars.

I donʼt think you will see a letdown from this team, but if it does happen, I wonʼt be all that surprised.

Prediction:
Texans 27 Jaguars 13

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