AFC South Time Machine: Houston Texans What If?

Nate Dunlevy@NateDunlevyGuest ColumnistJune 12, 2012

Yip.Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Texans have short history, so that makes it hard to pile up the regrets.

There aren't many, "what ifs" and "if onlys" for Houston. Sure, fans will wonder about the 2011 season and what could have been if Matt Schaub didn't go down for the season, but that wound is a little too fresh for the AFC South Time Machine to pry open.

We could talk about what would have happened if the city had caved to Bud Adams in the '90s, or what if the team had taken Julius Peppers first overall instead of David Carr in 2002. Those are interesting, but it's difficult to even speculate at how things would have unfolded differently.

Instead, let's flash back to 2009 and ask, "What if Kris Brown hadn't gotten the yips?"

The Texans put together a nice run of games halfway through the season. They sat at 5-3 and traveled to the undefeated Colts. They fought hard to come back from a 10-point deficit at half time, and took a 17-13 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter.

After Indianapolis came back to take a three-point lead, the Texans' defense came up with several big stops to give Schaub the ball. He drove to the 24 yard-line with :01 on the clock. Kris Brown had 42-yards to force overtime.

He missed.

After the bye, Brown missed two more kicks against the Titans as the Texans fell again by just three points.

The team went into a death-spiral.

The next week, they coughed-up a huge lead at home to the Colts. After that, they traveled to Jacksonville and lost to a mediocre Jaguars club.

The Texans had gone from 5-3 to 5-7, losing four straight division games, all in frustrating fashion. Gary Kubiak saved his job when the team won the final four games of the season, but 9-7 wasn't the result anyone had hoped for.

But what if Brown had hit the kick against Indy? If the Texans had won that game in overtime, would Brown have had the confidence to hit the kicks against the Titans?

If he had, the team would likely have won 11 games (at least 10) and made the playoffs. They would have gone on to play a beatable Bengals team in the first round, and had already taken them out in Cincinnati earlier that season.

The first playoff win in Texans history could have (should have?) come two years earlier.

Kris Brown affected the rest of the league as well. Without his missed kicks, the New York Jets never make the playoffs, and the myth of Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez doesn't ramp up. The Colts wouldn't have been able to rest starters in Week 16, angering a fan base and hastening the demise of the front-office.

The 2009 Texans were almost good enough to be a playoff team.

All they needed was a kicker.