Case Keenum almost bounces off the field to the roar of the remaining crowd, having given the city he loves one of those moments it's too seldom enjoyed.
So much for that rap that Keenum cannot win in the NFL. Thrust into a situation that would have unnerved many a quarterback, the former University of Houston record breaker ends up being Bill O'Brien's salvation.
It's a moment full of irony and second thoughts — with Keenum stepping up for the coach who never even gave him a chance to compete for the starting quarterback job in training camp, with fair wonder swirling about what could have been if Keenum had been on the Texans roster all season — but for the quarterback himself it's all about the joy.
Case Keenum's waited a long time for this moment. He deserves to enjoy it.
This doesn't guarantee anything about the 26-year-old Keenum's NFL future. Besides another start against Jacksonville next week.
For the first time with the Texans, Case Keenum has support. Is it really any surprise that a win finally follows?
But it's a start and a heck of a blow against the doubters. With Keenum confidently and calmly running an imaginative O'Brien offense, the Texans overwhelm the playoff scheming Baltimore Ravens 25-13.
"I can't put words on it," Keenum says afterwards. "It's something special. Someone told me that when you don't win it makes you realize just how sweet winning really is.
" This is very sweet."
Keenum's first career NFL win is a near dominant victory that no one could have predicted. And its tone is set by Keenum's accuracy on the Texans first drive and his control of the offense throughout.
Keenum benefits greatly from a Texans defense that completely obliterates Gary Kubiak's Ravens offense. He benefits greatly from the threat of Arian Foster's legs —and from the unexpected reality of Arian Foster's touchdown slinging right arm. He benefits from a coach who designs an offensive gameplan around his strengths rather than stubbornly jamming him into a particular system.
For the first time in a Houston Texans uniform, Case Keenum has support. Is it really any surprise that a win finally follows?
The scene that plays out at NRG Stadium effectively rips apart the Houston media perpetuated notion that Keenum's at fault for his 0-8 record as a starter in 2013.
Case Keenum's Resurrection
Keenum's final numbers on this day aren't exceedingly pretty by any means (20 of 42 for 185 yards, no touchdowns and one interception). But he comes off another team's practice squad and leads the Texans to victory. That's more than impressive.
Six tireless days of preparation this week — and a lifetime of preparing for moments like this. That is Case Keenum's formula for rescuing the Texans,
This isn't a storybook moment. Instead it is Keenum finally have enough around him in the NFL to show his talent. It's about opportunity.
By the end of the first quarter, Keenum's racked up 120 yards passing. He has completions of 35, 23 and 22 yards.
Keenum comes out throwing, drops a sideline pass into Andre Johnson's hands for a 35-yard gain on the first offensive play of the game. He completes his first four passes overall, accounts for all 63 yards on the opening drive, and the Texans walk away with a field goal.
By the end of the first quarter, Keenum's racked up 120 yards passing. He has completions of 35, 23 and 22 yards. He spreads the ball around, hitting five different receivers in the opening quarter alone.
O'Brien deserves credit for tailoring his gameplan to Keenum's strengths. The coach puts Keenum in plenty of shotgun formations. He allows Keenum to attack the middle of the field, something O'Brien seldom seemed to do in the preseason. O'Brien even gives the Ravens something to think about by breaking out the wildcat, having Keenum split out wide right as a receiver and direct snapping the ball to running back Arian Foster.
And it's not just a gimmick. There is a plan behind it. Late in the first half with the Texans once again in danger of coming away with only a field goal, Foster runs right, pulls up and rifles a touchdown pass to rookie tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz.
O'Brien gets awfully offensively conservative and cautious after Houston takes a 16-0 lead, but that's to be expected. The Texans settle for too many Randy Bullock field goals (a franchise record six).
But Keenum still leads the Texans to seven scoring drives, the most for Houston in any game this season. He still gets the emphatic win, which all his critics claimed was most important back when that's all they could criticize him for in the beginning of his run last season.
This is no storybook. But it's a heck of a real start.