Star in a Lone Star Adventure
Week 14, Dec. 12: Seattle at Houston Texans, NRG Stadium, 10 a.m. Pacific
SPONSORED – Enchiladas and greatness. That’s what I think of in Texas.
The enchiladas are pretty straightforward. They’re so delicious at El Tiempo Cantina that it’s hard to take a bite without closing my eyes. There are three locations though the one on Washington has the best track record according to the impartial taste buds of one reviewer.
The greatness has more to do with Seattle’s football history because this is where Seattle took a step in that direction. A stocking-footed step to be more specific.
First, let’s set the stage. Seattle entered that game 3-0 for the third time in franchise history. This wasn’t entirely unexpected. The team was considered a title contender from the moment the previous year had ended, but that Week 4 game in Houston showed that there was something special not because of how well Seattle played. In fact, Seattle had one of its worst games of the year. No, what stuck out about that game is that Seattle and its second-year quarterback Russell Wilson played one of their most frustrating games of the year and still found a way to win.
It took a lot of scrambling from Wilson and one incredibly timed interception by Seattle’s Richard Sherman – who lost his shoe as he ran the ball back into the end zone – and then an overtime field goal. When Seattle left Houston that afternoon, it was 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. It was a victory that stands as a significant landmark on this team’s path to its first championship.
This season will mark Seattle’s first game back in Houston since that season. We’ll have to wait and see whether this ends up being another benchmark along a path to greatness, but one thing is for sure: the enchiladas are going to be outstanding!
Arrival: Alaska Airlines has a daily non-stop flight to Houston’s Bush International (IAH), which is one of the five busiest airports in the world. The airport is located 22 miles outside of downtown, and given the sprawling nature of Houston, a rental car is an essential ingredient to making the most of your time in town.
Stadium: Everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas, and Houston’s football stadium certainly isn’t small with a seating capacity of more than 70,000. It’s just not quite as big as the chromed-out palace that Jerry Jones built up near Dallas. NRG Stadium has a retractable roof, and has been Houston’s home since the franchise joined the NFL in 2002. It’s got great sightlines, convenient access to the freeway that makes it one of the league’s most accessible venues.
Last time here: The last time Seattle played in Houston was the year it won the franchise’s only league title. Make of that what you will. It was Week 4 in 2013, a game that Seattle won 23-20 in overtime after Richard Sherman intercepted a fourth-quarter pass from Matt Schaub and ran it back for a touchdown. Seattle is 3-4 all-time in regular-season games played in Houston though that record has come against two different franchises. Seattle was 2-3 on the road against the Oilers before that franchise relocated to Tennessee. Seattle is 1-1 in Houston against the Texans.
Dining: Texas is a state where pitmaster isn’t just an occupation, but a position that is specified by name when speaking to the quality of a barbecue establishment. Yep. It’s that important, and Roy Burns is vouched for by no less an authority than Anthony Bourdain, who featured Burns Original BBQ on his television program “Parts Unknown” in 2017. Burns started his business out of his home in 1973, moved to the current location in 1988 and embodies the spirit (and smoke) of Texas barbecue (281.999.5559; 8307 De Priest St., Houston, TX). As the most diverse city in the country, Houston has more than just barbecue, though. El Tiempo Cantina has absolutely unbelievable enchiladas, and while there are three locations, I’ve got to say the Washington location was a cut above (713.681.3645; 5602 Washington Ave., Houston). One of my favorites offers a bit of fusion as Xin Chao is a contemporary take on Vietnamese cuisine. Chefs Christine Ha and Tony J. Nguyen are both second-generation Vietnamese-Americans whose menu is steeped in ingredients from Texas and the nearby Gulf Coast (832.740.4888; 2310 Decatur St., Houston, TX).