Quarterback Matt Schaub has taken a lot of heat from the media and fans over the last month due to his less than stellar performance. While he STILL left a lot of questions after the game in light of an inexcusable pick-6 at the hands of Bengals defender Leon Hall that momentarily gave the visitors a 7-6 lead, he DID manage to settle down and guide his team to victory in his first playoff game start. He watched from the sidelines last year recovering from an injury as T. J. Yates led the team to a win in their first ever playoff appearance.
The MAIN reason Houston won the contest was the re-emergence of a vaunting, running all over the field defensive unit led by Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips. The defensive performance turned in by the Texas was good enough to keep them in the game this weekend against the Patriots IF they can duplicate that effort. The offense WASN’T good enough in the red zone, as they came away with only one touchdown on the day.
Coach Gary Kubiak and players who addressed the media after the game were putting the positive spin on things, preferring not to think about the lack of offensive success the team suffered through. A win is a win, and certainly the team and all their fans appreciate that, but the cold hard fact is that the offense must play MUCH BETTER next weekend to have ANY chance of moving to the AFC Championship game a week later. Early odds have the Pats installed as an unheard of 9 ½ point favorite in the contest, due mainly the beat down Houston suffered at New England just a month ago.
Team Owner Bob McNair was obviously pleased to see his team win their second playoff game in three tries. “Well, offense controlled the clock and defense controlled the ball and that’s a pretty good combination. It’s really big. We sort of lost our momentum there at the end of the season and to be able to pick it up today, we played with great intensity and that’s really what we were looking for. We played Texan football. Our crowd was great. They were inspirational and just into it the whole game. We really appreciate it the players appreciate it and it makes for great fun for them too. I don’t know if I can stand much more excitement though. It was really nerve racking. Cincinnati’s got a good ball club and their defense is tough. (QB) Andy (Dalton) I thought did a good job of staying in there at the end he was throwing the ball well and (WR) A.J. (Green) can break it at any time and we were up by one score. There was reason to be nervous but our defense really stood up to the task.”
Head Coach Gary Kubiak was also proud of his team’s win. “I wasn’t under any pressure. I don’t feel that way. I think these guys have stayed the course the whole way. They’ve been through a tough month and that’s a part of the National Football League. The reason we won today is because nobody on this football team ever panics, they’ve got a lot of class. They battled and they understand there are going to be highs and lows, and that’s why they were able to stand up to this challenge today. We played a great football team, we had to be patient, we had to battle, and we had to play our type of game. I’m just very, very proud of our organization today.”
“The key, once again, as I’ve told you all along, if we can play our brand of football and run the ball, we had a lead all day long except for one brief period, then we’re able to protect our quarterback from a boot standpoint, and a play action standpoint. We stayed very committed to what we were doing and we didn’t panic. That’s why this thing ends up. We hung on to the ball today. We struggled in the red zone. I told them, ‘this team is a great football team and it’s going to be a day like that, but nobody will get down, and we will keep playing and we will keep our chin up and we will find a way to win a close football game.’ So that was our goal from the get go.”
The Texans KNOW what is in front of them Sunday. There is no doubt that NO ONE, with the exception of Kubiak and his team believes they can return to Foxboro and defeat the Patriots. IF they can find a way to do so, the significance of a miracle win would rank right up there would rank right up there with the parting of the Red Sea!