No. 1 Pick Is Decided in Surprising Fashion

Houston rallies to win late, and the victory costs them the top 2023 draft pick
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2023 7:55 AM CST
No. 1 Pick Is Decided in Surprising Fashion
Houston Texans defensive back M.J. Stewart (29) celebrates a fumble recovery during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023, in Indianapolis.   (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)

To tank or not to tank is an age-old sports dilemma, one that came into sharp focus in the NFL on Sunday. Heading into their final game, the Houston Texans were 2-13-1 and would have locked up the No. 1 pick in the next NFL draft with another loss. Instead, they won in dramatic fashion. The Texans scored an incredible touchdown (on 4th-and-20!) in the final minute, and then—this is the part that might have had many Texans fans cringing—made a 2-point conversion to beat the Indianapolis Colts 32-31 in an otherwise meaningless game. As a result, Houston hands the 2023 top draft pick to the Chicago Bears, who lost their final game and finished at 3-14, reports ESPN.

Before the game, many (including former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst Rex Ryan) raised the prospect of the team deliberately losing, or tanking, to secure the top pick, reports the Houston Chronicle. But coach Lovie Smith said after Sunday's game that it was never an option. “So, you’re saying, hey, guys, playing this last game, all that you’ve been working for all your life, you play to win, forget that, lose the game on purpose," he said. "I think that would be a hard one to get by." In the view of Chris Branch at the Athletic, the "Texans blew it." A footnote: If Smith thought an extra win would save his job, he was out of luck. The Texans fired him following the game after just one season, per the AP. (More NFL stories.)

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