When two teams face off in a major playoff game, it's customary for sportswriters and other media to bash the rival city--a tradition that existed long before the Internet invented "trolling." Shoot, we talked a little smack at Cincinnati ourselves before the Texans-Bengals game on Saturday.
Texans-Bengals bet, @ cincinnatimag? How 'bout: if our team wins, we send you BBQ, if your team wins, you *don't* send us chili.
— Texas Monthly (@TexasMonthly) January 5, 2013
Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, however, has no opinion about Gulf Coast seafood or the awesome Houston weather. He's reserving all his potshots for the Texans team itself.
With Houston moving on to face New England in the AFC semi-final Sunday, Shaughnessy wrote that the Patriots are "the first team in NFL history to get back-to-back byes before advancing to the conference championship game."
Could this get any easier?
I mean, seriously? The planets are aligned and the tomato cans are in place. The fraudulent Houston Texans are the only team standing between the New England Patriots and a trip to the AFC Championship game. All the Patriots have to do is beat the terrible Texans. One week from today. At Gillette Stadium.
In the wake of Houston’s win over Cincinnati Saturday, the Patriots now can advance to the NFL’s Final Four by beating a team they routed, 42-14, just four weeks ago.
I know what you are thinking. Just two years ago, the Patriots beat the New York Jets, 45-3, in December, then lost a first-round game to the same Jets just a few weeks later.
This is not the same. Those Jets were not afraid of the Patriots. Those Jets had players and a coach who did not wet their pants at the sight of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Those Jets had attitude.
The 2012-13 Texans? Pure frauds. The worst 11-1 team in the history of the NFL. These Texans have absolutely zero chance of beating New England here next week. And everybody knows that this is true.
Of course, nobody's been more negative about the Texans' Super Bowl hopes than the team's own fans and beat writers . They don't need some Bawstin scribe to tell them that the Texans lost three of their last four regular-season games, struggled on defense for seven weeks and should have beaten both the Vikings and the Colts.
However, Shaughnessy asserts that Indianapolis "had nothing at stake" in that finale, which is curious: did he somehow miss the biggest story in the NFL that week, the return of leukemia-stricken Colts head coach Chuck Pagano?
The column goes on to make fun of Matt Schaub as "a quarterback who played nine years in the league before finally winning his first playoff game," crows that defensive star J.J. Watt was "a zero" in that previous Pats-Texans game and concludes that Houston defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and head coach Gary Kubiak "did what almost everybody does against the Patriots. They choked"
Shaughnessy also dismisses the Texans performance against the Bengals, noting that Cincinnati is
a team that hasn’t won a playoff game in 22 years. It was one of the ugliest games in NFL playoff history.
The Patriots did nothing Saturday. And they got exactly what they wanted.
Why, it's enough to make you want to shake a finger at the guy, just like J.J. Watt did at the Bengals' Andy Dalton Saturday!
(GIF by Buzzfeed)
But here's the thing. Shaughnessy isn't really trolling Houston or the Texans. He's trolling the Patriots (while giving Kubiak and Phillips' much-appreciated bulletin-board fodder). If Sunday is a repeat of December 10 , he'll be hard-pressed to write more than a four-word column (i.e., "I told you so").
But if the Texans win, he'll be able to spew hundreds of words ripping on New England for failing to live up to his own breezy expectations.
And Shaughnessy's dismissal of the Jets comparison aside, there is this stat to encourage Houston fans, via NFL writer Scott Kacsmar.
Last six New England playoff losses have come in rematches from reg. season. #Texans
— Scott Kacsmar (@CaptainComeback) January 6, 2013