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Nationally, no one really gave the Texans a chance in this game. And I mean no one. In fact, if you watched the pregame show, they made it sound as if Houston would have saved everyone a lot of time and trouble if they had just missed their flight and forfeit the contest.
Locally, it was quite mixed. There were those who said that it had been a fun ride, but this was where the journey ends. Others were convinced that this was a team of destiny and they were going to find a way to be triumphant against huge odds.
After early turnovers found them in a two-touchdown hole early, it appeared that the former thinking was the accurate one. But the the Texans defense ascended to a higher level of being and channeled the 1970's "Steel Curtain" and just put the clamps down on the Baltimore offense. They contained Ray Rice all day and clearly were getting under Joe Flacco's skin.
In the end, even though they fell short, they had many of the talking heads in the national media play the "if Matt Schaub was healthy, Houston would have won this game" card. It also had most of them proclaiming that if Houston could stay healthy in 2012 that we were looking at the AFC representative in the Super Bowl next season.
There are no moral victories in sports, in my opinion. You either win or you lose. I never play hypotheticals. But I will not lie, it was nice to hear those kinds of things from the national media and by earning that much respect in a loss, that's something to build on.
It's about as close as you can come to a victory in a defeat and a stinging loss like this is what will keep this team hungry headed into 2012.
Mike Kerns is a Featured Columnist for the Houston Texans at Bleacher Report. Feel free to follow him on Twitter and catch his latest Texans podcast on iTunes.