For a brief moment, there was hope in Houston, land of burnt jerseys and pick-six burgers, hope that what's left of a terrible season could be salvaged and turned into something, if not playoff-worthy, then at least respectable. Hope that came in the form of a kid named Case Keenum, who plays football the way they all do in Texas, flinging the ball deep downfield and turning every play into a miniature epic.
But then the Colts' Andrew Luck did what he does, Houston's kicking game vanished into the Texas night, and Indianapolis scored the final 18 points of the game to escape with a 27-24 victory on Sunday night.
Per the Elias Sports Bureau, Luck already has 10 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, the most ever by a quarterback in his first two seasons in the Super Bowl era. Luck finished the game with 271 yards passing and three touchdowns, all to T.Y. Hilton.
The Texans were two different teams in each half, and it's not hard to see why. Texans head coach Gary Kubiak collapsed at halftime and was taken away from Reliant Stadium in an ambulance. While Wade Phillips is a capable replacement, the emotional impact of losing their coach had to play into the Texans' psyche.
Add to that the fact that Randy Bullock missed three field goals, including a 55-yarder as time expired that would have sent the game into overtime. Any of them would have changed the complexion of the game.
Still, Keenum gives Houston fans a reason to hope. The local hero, a University of Houston product, threw like he was playing in a Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl, sending everyone deep on every play. He hooked up with Andre Johnson for three separate touchdowns and threw for a total of 350 yards, going 20 of 34. Plus, he didn't throw a single interception, which is enough to keep Houston fans thankful.
The Texans, like the Atlanta Falcons, are a preseason Super Bowl hopeful whose dreams have turned to an ugly 2-6 trash fire. There's not much hope left except for what Keenum embodies. The Colts, on the other hand, are steadily building the kind of always-in-the-game rep and mindset that will serve them well when January rolls around.