Losing, Oiler Style

December 21, 2003
Losing, Oiler Style

by Keith Weiland

The Texans are not the Oilers.
The Texans are not the Oilers.
The Texans are not the Oilers.

Maybe if I write it enough, I’ll remember it again.

Should be no reason why I shouldn’t. Sunday’s loss against the Titans was not in the playoffs. It wasn’t to Pittsburgh with a phantom foot out of bounds. It wasn’t to Denver (twice). It wasn’t to Buffalo with a 32-point third quarter lead. And it wasn’t to Kansas City with a nearly-retired Joe Montana.

It was just one of ten losses this season. And lest I forget, this is still the second season of existence for the Texans, our fresh-faced, glass-is-still half-full Texans, that is. The same team that still has that new Carr smell.

So what if the Texans blew this game in Oiler fashion? Sure, having a corner fall down in the endzone defending a fourth down desperation pass attempt is textbook Oilers. But this game meant little. It was merely the difference between a five-win season and a six-win season, with one still to play.

So why was this one so tough?

One might think that, as a fan of a team that has lost 22 times in its last 30 games, losing might be second nature at this point, especially when expectations are so low. Honestly, thanks to those depressed expectations, most of those losses have been pretty easy to swallow afterward.

Though there will come a time, however, when a loss like this one to the Titans will hurt far worse than it did on Sunday, and I know that. A December loss to a division rival should mean something someday soon. Thankfully, nothing was on the line for the Texans in this one, aside from just another shot at beating a division rival for the first time.

But isn’t that it? The Titans aren’t just any divison rival. They are the former Houston Oilers, and despite all the years, miles, and hideous uniform changes, that fact can never be covered up while I’m still of sound mind and body.

For nearly all of us, myself included, our ties to that franchise severed somewhere between the day Bud Adams shook hands with the city of Nashville and that glorious morning when Bob McNair was awarded an expansion franchise.

But this just in… breaking up is hard to do. Forgive me for my scars. I guess there’s still some sensitivity underneath there someplace. It’s faded, barely noticeable, but it’s there. (Dammit.)

While Houston has clearly come out on top in the exchange of NFL ownership, losing to the team that left you will never be easy. If it’s hard on days like Sunday’s 27-24 loss, then I shudder to think what it may be like when the Texans actually have something of importance to lose other than a little pride.

If this season’s games are any indication, then those days will be inevitable. The Texans have lost games in excruciating fashion this year. There was David Carr’s bullet pass against the Jets that bounced off Andre Johnson. Then there was the Patriots defense stuffing Domanick Davis not once, but twice, to take the Texans out of field goal range in overtime. And now comes Sunday’s fourth down touchdown pass allowed to the Titans.

The Texans are not the Oilers.

That’s right. They’re not. The Texans have had their share of late-game heroics. I’ve not forgotten the goalline dive over the Jaguars, or Marcus Coleman’s interception in Miami. I realize this is still a young team, learning to find its way in the NFL.

So it’s okay to spend a little time licking our wounds after this one. Maybe it’ll toughen them up for the next time the Texans suffer a tough loss to Houston’s old NFL team.

That is, if there is a next time.

Ha! Good riddance, Oilers.

Top Ten List
Just about ready to dive headfirst into the bulk of the bowl season, the Texans’ needs still appear to be, in no particular order: offensive tackle, defensive lineman, linebacker, and defensive back. So who should they be watching? (* indicates underclassman)

Robert Gallery    

1. Robert Gallery, LT, Iowa. 6′” 317. Gallery is the real deal as a left tackle prospect, and if he’s somehow available when the Texans pick, they should waste no time getting this card up to Tags.

Vince Wilfork    

2. Vince Wilfork*, DT, Miami. 6’2″ 345. A double-team waiting to happen in the NFL. Nice quickness for a big man. Maybe too big? Nah, just wait until he gets into an NFL weight training program.

Sean Taylor    

3. Sean Taylor*, FS, Miami. 6’3″ 225. Arguably the best athlete in the entire draft, assuming he declares. Taylor is the type who has enough athletic ability to make an immediate impact, too.

Shawn Andrews    

4. Shawn Andrews*, RT, Arkansas. 6’5″ 371. A punishing run blocker who would be the long-term answer at right tackle for the Texans. Weight is a minor concern, but he’s light on his feet.

Randy Starks    

5. Randy Starks*, DT (DE), Maryland. 6’4″ 312. Plays smaller than he’s listed, but that’s a compliment to his pass rush ability. Another athletic specimen, he can stuff the run and tackle, too.

Tommie Harris    

6. Tommie Harris*, DT (DE), Oklahoma. 6’3″ 287. Harris would make for a fearsome end in a 3-4 system. Plenty strong to take multiple blockers, he has the necessary quickness to rush the passer.

DeAngelo Hall    

7. DeAngelo Hall*, CB, Virginia Tech. 5’11” 201. Speed kills, and Hall has plenty of it. If allowed, he could be a back-breaker on returns as well. Hall may shoot up boards when timed at the Combine.

Marlin Jackson    

8. Marlin Jackson*, DB (CB), Michigan. 6’1″ 190. Misused as a safety for the Wolverines, his stock has slipped some. Part of the blame is due to nagging injuries. Rarely challenged as a shutdown corner.

Chris Gamble    

9. Chris Gamble*, CB, Ohio State. 6’2″ 180. An instinctive player who could just as easily be a big-time star as he could be a big-time bust. Raw and easily fooled, Gamble is still worth the, um, gamble.

Derrick Strait    

10. Derrick Strait, CB, Oklahoma. 5’11” 194. Aggressive playmaker who is likely the top senior corner available (sorry Nathan Vasher). Strait has played some tight coverage this year.

Love, American Style. Truer than the Red, White, and Steel Blue. Love, American Style. That’s Keith Weiland and you.