Sun, 09 May 2021

Farewell to a Foe | Daily Brew

Houston Texans
22 Apr 2021, 19:02 GMT+10

Marc Vandermeer

His retirement this week might have been a blip on your radar, but other than Tom Brady and Joe Flacco (who he is tied with), Alex Smith has faced the Texans more than any non-division quarterback since the team started play in 2002. And just about every one of those eight meetings has held some significance in franchise history.

The first match-up was dubbed 'The Reggie Bush Bowl' because a Texans loss would lock up the 2006 number one pick in the draft, presumably to draft Reggie Bush (we all know what happened as they selected Mario Williams, the right choice).

It was a cold and soggy New Years Day at Candlestick Park as Smith, in his rookie campaign, was trying for his second consecutive win as a starter. He was the number one pick in the previous year's draft and the best the Niners could do was finish 4-12.

Smith outdueled David Carr and Tony Banks to get the win as the Texans staff was dismissed the next day and the Gary Kubiak era would begin.

The Texans wouldn't see Smith again until four years later at NRG Stadium. His career was not going well as he lost his starting job to Shaun Hill. Smith came off the bench to throw three TD passes yet the Texans prevailed 24-21 on the way to their first winning season.

After Jim Harbaugh helped turn Smith into a winning starter in 2011, he was eventually shown the door, as Colin Kaepernick took the reigns in San Francisco. Smith ended up with Andy Reid in Kansas City. His next action against Houston was Case Keenum's first start in 2013. Keenum had better numbers that day but Smith and the Chiefs won the game 17-16.

Two years later, Bill O'Brien and the Texans are kicking off the '15 season against Kansas City and Smith leads the Chiefs to a victory that results in the first of a half dozen QB changes. The Chiefs would also end the Texans season with a playoff shutout win. The year was fruitful as the Texans climbed back from 2-5 to win the division for the third time. But the bookend losses to Smith and the Chiefs spoiled the party.

The following year and four quarterbacks later, the Texans would host Kansas City in week 2. Brock Osweiler and Houston triumphed in a hard-fought defensive struggle. Smith was back the following year, winning a Sunday night shootout as Patrick Mahomes was watching and learning from the sideline.

It looked like Smith's career might be over in 2018 after the Texans traveled to the nation's capital to play Washington, now QB'd by Smith.

A J.J. Watt takedown caused the brutal leg injury that resulted in a two year absence from the game and a well-documented long shot comeback. At the time, Washington was 6-3 and headed for a good season before the veteran went out. Houston's win tied a franchise record for seven in a row. Eventually the streak went to nine.

It spanned three teams and 16 seasons but there's no question Smith has a notable role in the story of the Texans. Outside of the division, only Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger (6) and Drew Brees (6) come close to the amount of appearances - other than Tom Brady of course. But that's a topic for another time.

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