Nobody could have seen Davis Mills’ throw for the ages coming. But we should have known the Texans would put up a fight in their regular season finale. Lovie Smith’s team tickled all the right keys in the final weeks of the regular season. In Week 14, Houston nearly upset the Dallas Cowboys. In Week 15, the Texans led the Kansas City Chiefs with five minutes remaining in regulation. They lost in overtime when Pat Mahomes locked in, but for a rudderless roster, it was a tenacious effort.
Those sort of gritty losses are what fans like to see out of a team in position for the No.1 pick. Then, in Week 16, the Texans tossed Malik Willis into a sinkhole, from which we may never escape, for a surprising win.
On Sunday, the most hilarious event of the 2022 NFL season occurred. Trailing the Colts 24-31 with under a minute remaining, Davis Mills dropped back on 4th and 20, rolled out to stave off the pressure, and laced a dime from the 45-yard-line to tight end Jordan Atkins. The repercussions of Atkins’ catch resulted in the most consequential pass of the regular season until the very next play.
Rather than risk overtime and another tie against the Colts, lame-duck coach Lovie Smith went for two and the win. I’ve never seen a game-winning sequence that was so tragic and yet played out with a laugh track. The Houston Texans deserve to be laughed at, especially for how they tried to play Smith. Game recognize game and he played them right back.
On one hand, the Texans had Lovie Smith in a no-win situation coaching for his job with a win or by earning the No.1 overall pick for a new regime. If the Texans wanted to fire a black man from their head coaching position again, they could have done that when things started looking up in Week 14, 15, or 16, and inserted a stooge at head coach.
After the final play, a mischievous grin was plastered on Smith’s face. He had to know this might be it and he left a lasting memory in Houston while simultaneously gifting the Bears again. He was immediately fired Sunday night.
Conversely, the Texans went from being the offseason protagonist who controlled their own destiny and which quarterback they’d take to the Chicago Bears’ backseat drivers. Being at the mercy of the Bears isn’t sitting right with Texans fans either.
Texans fans were so apoplectic they should have left in straight jackets.
The vitriol from a fanbase that has never escaped the Divisional Round became an open wound. Houston’s fate won’t change that much. It’s not like they fell from the first pick to the fourth. They’ll still have access to the second-best passers in a draft class with two top-5 worthy quarterbacks.
It’s been a while since a franchise was this furious over a dramatic win. However, the Texans are pitiful. The No. 2 pick isn’t a bad consolation prize, but it leaves the Texans waiting for what the Bears decide to do with the pick.
If anything, Lovie Smith should be chief emeritus of the offseason. All the intrigue and analysis of the offseason is about to be doubled. In time, Davis Mills’ throw will take on a new meaning, especially if the quarterback that falls to them has the superior career. Or it will sting if Bryce Young becomes an All-Pro.
Chicago believes they’ve already found their first franchise quarterback in 70 years in Justin Fields. Yet, most of that is aspirational thinking. He utilized his legs this season behind a porous offensive line and a bottom-feeding wide receiving corps. They’ll likely trade that first pick to a team in the top 10 or top five so they don’t move too far back. Maybe even to the Indianapolis Colts. We have Lovie Smith to thank for the ensuing offseason speculation.