Pyrrhus of Epirus had nothing on Lovie Smith.
In 279 B.C., Pyrrhus led the Epirus army against the Romans in the Battle of Asculum. Pyrrhus won the battle but lost so many soldiers that his army could not continue to fight the war.
Thus was born the expression “Pyrrhic victory.” It’s when you win something but at such a cost that you lose in the long run.
Fast-forward 2,302 years. Coach Lovie Smith and the Houston Texans had one thing to do last Sunday – lose a football game – a skill they had been quite proficient at all season. But true to form, they couldn’t even do that right.
They entered Sunday’s game on the road against Indianapolis with the worst record in the league. If they lost, they’d clinch the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft. They’d have a clear shot at landing talented quarterback Bryce Young of Alabama and start their path back to respectability.
Lose one for the Gipper.
It looked like they had the loss wrapped up, too, trailing 31-24 with 3:29 left. And that’s when the Texans decided, “Let’s win this game!” Seriously? They drove downfield and scored a touchdown on a last-minute desperation pass. That made the score 31-30 still in favor of the Colts, the Texans still in firm grasp of losing. What to do now? Shank the extra point on purpose? Go for two and take a knee?
Suddenly Lovie Smith, criticized all season for playing uninspired, predictable football, became a riverboat gambler, went for two, made it, and won the game.
What were you thinking?
Smith, his job on the line, did the one thing that doomed him to the ranks of the unemployed. The Texans didn’t even wait for NFL Black Monday to dismiss him. He was dismissed Sunday night before the 10 o’clock news.
We don’t know if losing would have saved Smith’s job, but it’s for sure that winning didn’t help. The Texans operate in the Bizarro World, where “us do opposite of all Earthly things. Us hate beauty. Us love ugliness. Is big crime to make anything perfect.”
Us would rather pick No. 2 in the NFL draft and not No. 1.
With the Texans’ luck, another team that needs help at quarterback, say the Colts, will trade up with the Bears, grab the No. 1 pick and steal Young, who has a long, successful pro career and wins multiple Super Bowls.
He coulda been a Texan, and the Texans coulda been a contender. All they had to do was lose a simple football game. Losing is easy. You just need a game plan. You’ve seen the movie Major League. The team owner needs the Indians to lose so fans stay away and the owner can break the lease on their stadium and move the team to Florida. So the team signs a bunch of misfits and lousy players.
Fans already stay away from Texans games. The roster already is pretty underwhelming. They just needed to finish the job and lose on Sunday.
At the post-game press conference, Smith was asked about his future with the Texans and he expressed confidence that he’d be back next year. The Texans fired him a couple of hours later. Way to humiliate the poor guy one last time. They could have told him he was toast before the press conference.
Nice touch, Brandin Cooks, the Texans’ best offensive player, who makes $19 million a year, trashing the Texans after the game. Cooks said, “I want to be part of a vision where everyone is on the same page and has a stable vision.” He wasn’t talking about the Texans.
The Texans still may get a quality player with the No. 2 pick. Most draft experts point to defensive stars like Will Anderson of Alabama or Jalen Carter of Georgia. Both could be impact players, but no position can turn a team around like quarterback. And the Texans need to do a complete 180.