Matt Schaub has been one of the NFL's most efficient quarterbacks since joining the Houston Texans, but injuries have always seemed to stop him from taking his game to the next level. He proved on Sunday that it hasn't been due to a lack of toughness.
Schaub took a couple of huge hits from the Denver Broncos defense, including one that busted his ear open, but he only missed one play. After watching the video a couple of times, no one would have blamed him if he didn't return.
Watching his helmet fly off after Joe Mays leveled him was a cringe-worthy moment.
Normally, when a helmet is knocked off, it's usually because it's loose. Schaub seemed to have his strapped on pretty solid, and it still went flying.
After lying on the ground for a little while, he popped back up and returned quickly after the doctors took care of his ear. He finished the game with 290 yards and four touchdowns as the Texans beat the Broncos to move to 3-0.
Schaub spoke on the hit after the game. According to the Houston Chronicle's Tania Ganguli: “'I felt fine,' the Texans’ quarterback said nonchalantly. 'You know, I just lost a little piece of my ear.'”
Schaub's toughness is a perfect example of how the injury-prone label is sometimes unfairly thrown around. While some players who are constantly dealing with nagging issues deserve it, sometimes it just comes down to bad luck.
In Schaub's case, it surely hasn't been a lack of toughness. Anybody who can take the series of hits he did on Sunday and keep playing deserves a lot of respect.
He showed no ill effects after the game and should be fine moving forward, which is good news for the Texans, their fans and fantasy football owners. He's proven how important his contributions are to Houston's offense.
Do the Texans need Schaub to succeed?
Losing him late last season to a foot injury derailed a promising year. T.J. Yates filled in admirably, but he simply isn't on Schaub's level.
With things shaping up well for the Texans again in 2012, it's crucial that Schaub stays on the field. The team is built on its tremendous defense and running game, but having Schaub to exploit weaknesses in the opposing secondary takes it to an elite level.
If anybody was questioning his toughness after missing 16 games, the equivalent of a full season, since joining the Texans six years ago, they shouldn't be anymore. What he did to stay on the field on Sunday was impressive.
The Texans need a healthy Schaub to consider themselves Super Bowl contenders. At least they know he's willing to do whatever it takes to fight through the pain when possible.