The Texans have played three knock-down, drag-out football games over the past two weeks, including becoming the first team in the NFL since 1994 to play consecutive OT games in the span of five days.
They've come out on top in all three battles, proving once again that they can handle a great deal of adversity, yet the war of attrition has taken a definite toll on head coach Gary Kubiak's club.
The day after Houston's thrilling 34-31 Thanksgiving-day triumph was billed MRI Friday, according to Kubiak, because the Texans finished off the Lions without their starting nose tackle, right tackle, three linebackers and top corner.
The chief concern is OLB Brooks Reed, who could reportedly miss up to a month after suffering a non-contact groin injury in the first half in Detroit. Fortunately, much like last season, when Mario Williams tore his pectoral muscle and the Texans had a high draft pick, Reed, waiting in the wings, first-rounder Whitney Mercilus is a talented defender who has been looking for more opportunities. But this is the last way the Texans had hoped to get him on the field, plus he's shown his inexperience more than his big-play ability over the past three games.
If Bradie James' injury is significant, paired with Tim Dobbins being inactive against Detroit, the Texans lose a great deal of physicality in the middle of their defense. The return of ILB Darryl Sharpton couldn't come at a better time — much like Barrett Ruud's first contributions as a Texan, two huge pass breakups on consecutive plays in overtime, after James went down — but the Texans, now more than ever, need the "mini-bye" to get some players healthy.
As S Danieal Manning told the Dial Global radio network on the field after forcing a fumble in his third consecutive game, he barely recognized some of his teammates in the huddle during overtime.
That the Texans have come out of this grueling stretch 3-0 is remarkable, but it has come at a significant price.