The Houston Texans began their 10th anniversary campaign with lofty expectations, with many columnists picking them to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Despite the lofty expectations, the Texans began the season rather flatly, only managing a field goal on offense against and younger, more inexperienced Dolphins team. Miami played the Texans tough throughout the first half, thanks in part to Reggie Bush's contributions on the ground. However, the game took a stunning turn after the two-minute warning of the first half as the Texans forced three Dolphin turnovers, and quickly converted them into touchdowns to stretch the lead to 24–3 before halftime. The Texans continued to ride their defense to a season opening 30–10 win over Miami. Houston improved to 7–0 all-time against the Miami Dolphins as they started their season 1–0.
The Texans entered their first division clash of the season looking to establish their will on the ground. Behind a punishing ground attack with Arian Foster and Ben Tate, as well as an efficient defensive effort led by second year defensive lineman J.J. Watt, the Texans dominated the game with a time of possession of 43:17 on their way to a 27–7 victory in Jacksonville. With the win, the Texans improved to 2–0 for the 3rd straight season.
The Texans entered this highly anticipated early season matchup coming face-to-face once again with a familiar longtime AFC South nemesis in the form of former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who had sat out the 2011 season due to a neck injury. Now back and in Denver, Manning came into the game looking to continue his mastery over the Houston Texans franchise. However, it was Matt Schaub who took control of the game early, throwing 4 touchdown passes, and overcoming a brutal hit where he lost a chunk of his ear. Despite Peyton Manning fueling a Broncos comeback attempt in the 4th quarter, the Texans were able to hang on and defeat the Broncos by 6 points. With the win, the Texans improved to 3–0 for the first time ever. This was also their first road victory against Peyton Manning as they improved to 1–0 against Peyton in road games as a Bronco (0–9 vs. Peyton on the road as a Colt).
Despite Chris Johnson breaking out with his first 100+ yard rushing game for the Titans this season, Tennessee was unable to contain a dynamic Texans team, who recorded two touchdowns on defense en route to blowout the former Oilers 38–14. With the win, the Texans improved to 4–0 for the first time in franchise history.
Many expected the Texans to roll through the seemingly dismal Jets team in their first primetime appearance of the season. Even though the Texans never trailed in the game, the Jets kept pace throughout, thanks in large part to a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown by the Jets' Joe McKnight. The Texans were able to keep the Jets at bay just enough to earn a hard fought win on the road, and improve to 5–0, remaining one of only two teams undefeated in the NFL to this point along with the Atlanta Falcons. This was also the first time the Texans have ever defeated the New York Jets in their 11-year history, making them 1–5 against the Jets overall and improving their regular season record to 5–0.
GB – Jordy Nelson 41 Yard TD Pass from Aaron Rodgers, (Mason Crosby XP), (GB 7–0)
GB – James Jones 6 Yard TD Pass from Aaron Rogers, (Mason Crosby XP), (GB 14–0)
HOU – Arian Foster 1 Yard TD Run, (Shayne Graham XP), (GB 14–7)
GB – Jordy Nelson 21 Yard TD Pass from Aaron Rodgers, (Mason Crosby XP), (GB 21–7)
HOU – Shayne Graham 51 Yard FG, 2:15 (GB 21–10)
GB – Jordy Nelson 1 Yard TD Pass from Aaron Rodgers, (Mason Crosby XP), (GB 28–10)
HOU – Arian Foster 1 Yard TD Run, (Shayne Graham XP), (HOU 28–17)
GB – Tom Crabtree 48 Yard TD Pass from Aaron Rodgers, (Mason Crosby XP), (GB 35–17)
GB – James Jones 18 Yard TD Pass from Aaron Rodgers, (Mason Crosby XP), (GB 42–17)
HOU – DeVier Posey Recovers Blocked Punt in End zone, (Shayne Graham XP), (GB 42–24)
GB – Aaron Rodgers – 24/37, 338 Yards, 6 TD
HOU – Matt Schaub – 20/33, 232 Yards, 2 INT
GB – Alex Green – 22 Rushes, 65 Yards
HOU – Justin Forsett – 7 Rushes, 47 Yards
GB – Jordy Nelson – 9 Receptions, 121 Yards, 3 TD
HOU – Andre Johnson – 8 Receptions, 75 Yards
GB – AJ Hawk – 10 Tackles, Sack
HOU – Glover Quinn – 8 Tackles
The Texans came into their first ever appearance on Sunday Night Football facing playoff favorites Green Bay, who had shockingly started the season 2–3, one of those losses ending in controversy over a disputed touchdown call by the replacement NFL referees in Seattle in week 3. And coming off another disappointing loss to Indianapolis the week before, the Green Bay Packers took out all of their early season frustrations out on the Texans at Reliant Stadium, and at the same time, reestablished themselves as the team to beat in the NFC. Aaron Rodgers tore up the Texans defense with 6 touchdown passes, and the Packers as the Texans dropped to 5–1 and 0–1 on Sunday Night Football.
The Texans had little time to think about the disappointing results the week before at home against Green Bay, as the Baltimore Ravens, the team who had eliminated them in the divisional round of the playoffs the previous year, were coming to town. The Texans rebounded from their worst performance of the year with arguably one of their best as they had limited Baltimore's revitalized offense to just 13, forcing two turnovers in an impressive win going into the bye week. It was the first time the Texans had ever defeated the Ravens in their franchise history (they had lost the previous six meetings, including the playoff matchup). Reliant Stadium set a new Texans home attendance record of 71,708 fans during the regular season. Likewise, the Ravens and Texans were the only 2 teams in the AFC who where above .500 at the point of this game. However, the Texans surprisingly won it as the team went into their bye week at 6–1 and also went 1–6 all-time against the Ravens.
The game marked the anticipated return of former Texans number one draft pick Mario Williams, who had signed a multi-year $100 million contract with the Bills over the offseason, back to Reliant Stadium. While Williams performed well in his return, the Bills were unable to muster up a touchdown drive over the Texans defense as Houston improved to 7–1 with a 21–9 win. Also, the team took the all-time series to .500 with a 3–3 record against the Bills.
The primetime game was played in a mix of rain and snow at Soldier Field, conditions that have typically meant trouble for teams that play their home games in warm weather or controlled environments, such as the Texans. Despite the conditions, the Texans were able to ground out a 13–6 win on the road to improve to 8–1 on the season, 3–0 overall against the Chicago Bears and 1–1 on Sunday Night Football.
After a hard fought win in Chicago, and on the cusp of a short turnaround for a Thursday afternoon matchup in Detroit the following week, the 8–1 Texans hosted the 1–8 Jaguars at Reliant. The Texans survive an upset scare from Jacksonville thanks to a career high 527 passing yards from Matt Schaub and 275 receiving yards from Andre Johnson. Notably, the Texans become the first NFL team to score twice in an overtime period under the new overtime format.
With the win, the Texans improved to 9–1 as the team swept the Jaguars.
After defeating the Jaguars at home in overtime, the Texans traveled to Detroit to play in their first ever Thanksgiving Day game. Many touchdowns were scored between both of the teams, but the Texans got the better edge of it when Justin Forsett ran for a controversial touchdown from deep in the Texans' territory. With their 2nd-straight overtime victory, the Texans improved to 10–1, 1–0 on Thanksgiving, and 2–1 against the Lions all-time.
After a grueling stretch where they endured two hard fought overtime matches over a span of 5 days, the Texans took the opportunity of a prolonged week to heal up and rest in advance of the stretch run to the playoffs. The Texans took the AFC's best record into Tennessee to face a reeling Titans team, fresh off of firing their offensive coordinator earlier in the week. The Texans staked out to an early lead and never looked back as the defense forced 6 Titans turnovers and held Titans running back Chris Johnson to 51 yards en route to a relatively stress free 24–10 victory. With the win, the Texans set a new team record for wins in a season, while improving to 11–1 and also clinched the franchise's second straight trip to the playoffs and swept the Titans for the first time since 2004.
With their victory over the Colts, the Texans improved to 12–2 on the season and 5–0 against division rivals, thereby securing their second AFC South title in franchise history. Because the Patriots dropped to 10–4 several hours later on the same day, the Texans can clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs by winning at least one of their two remaining games by virtue of their head-to-head tiebreaker over the Broncos.
With the loss in their regular season home finale, the Texans dropped to 12–3 on the season and 6–2 at home, finishing 0–2 at home against NFC North teams. Houston remains winless (0–3) against the Minnesota Vikings in franchise history.
Hoping to rebound from a tough loss, the Texans traveled to Indianapolis for game 2 against the Andrew Luck-led Colts. However, the Texans lost this game and finished 12–4 for the season and 0–11 against the Colts in Indianapolis. With wins by the Broncos and Patriots, the Texans dropped in conference standings, taking the AFC's #3 seed for the 2nd straight year, and would host the Bengals in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs—also for a 2nd straight year.
In somewhat of a sloppy game for both teams, the Texans booted the Cincinnati Bengals out of the playoffs for the 2nd straight year and moved on to the Divisional Round. After going up 6–0 on two Shayne Graham field goals to start the game, Matt Schaub threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown to give the Bengals a 7–6 lead. Coming out of halftime, the Texans defense stiffened up for the rest of the game, forcing the Bengals to 0–9 on 3rd down conversions, holding 2nd-year QB Andy Dalton to 14 completions in 30 attempts for 127 passing yards, and only 2 more field goals as the Texans hung on for the victory.
AFC Divisional Playoff Game: at #2 New England Patriots
AFC Divisional Playoff Game: #3 Houston Texans at #2 New England Patriots – Game summary
The Texans were eliminated from the playoffs for the 2nd year in a row in a game reminiscent of the Week 14 matchup against the Patriots. Entering the game, both teams combined were 12–0 at home against other AFC teams. Again, the Texans were outplayed and out-coached, losing despite possessing the ball for about 31:34 minutes compared to their opponent's 28:36. An intercepted pass that doomed a promising drive and a turnover on downs late in the 3rd quarter put the game out of reach as New England ran away with the score, boasting impressive performances from QB Tom Brady, RBs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, and WR Wes Welker.