HEAD COACH MIKE VRABEL
On the fourth and short play, what was the design?
“We were just trying to run a belly. It was a play we had seen have some success down there against their goal line in the past. Like most of the plays we tried to run tonight, we thought we had a chance with. Give them credit. They made a play. Zach (Cunningham) stepped up and made a tackle where I think on film that guy gained the necessary yardage over there where we thought they may be a little light.”
Why not give it to a running back in that situation?
“Well, because that play again, that play is something that we’ve seen on film against that defense and that was the idea was to try to see a play that had worked in the past against that. It didn’t work tonight. The guy made a play.”
When happened in the breakdown that have them the 97-yard run?
“Like a lot of things when you run the football, there’s cracks in the wall, missed tackles. That’s what happens when there’s long touchdown runs. There’s either an edge, a seam, or a missed tackle or a combination of both.”
Did TE Luke Stocker carry the ball on that play in practice?
“Yeah, we repped that. We’ve repped that play. It’s something that we’ve repped and have had up. We haven’t had a ton of goal line opportunities or goal line personnel. Just have having watched that play be successful against their goal line, we felt good about it. Zach made a play like he’s done a lot in his young career. He’s made a tackle so give them credit. We’ll have to do better next time.”
You’ve got skilled position players drafted for situations and you chose to give the ball to a player who has never carried the ball in an NFL game. Was the strategy to play a trick rather than straight up?
“I think that if you look at their goal line defense, there’s certain plays that we’ve watched over the past two years and having a lot of good knowledge of what they do on the goal line that like a lot of places, it’s tough to run on them, and that’s one play that had worked. It didn’t work tonight and that’s not going to be the reason that we lost. That was a bad play. Again, we wouldn’t have put something out there that we hadn’t seen on film that was successful in that situation.”
You don’t think those back to back plays are the reason why you lost?
“No, I didn’t say that play. I didn’t say that specific play. Those helped, those would contribute to it. When you don’t score and then give up long rushing touchdown, those are going to be things again that get you beat. When you don’t stop the run, when you don’t continue, when you get 15 yard penalties, turn the ball over, those are all the things we try to coach. I’ve to coach them better to not do the things to get you beat. You can do the bad things and get away with it. We do a lot of good things, but again, you’ve got to eliminate the things that get you beat.”
What was the emotional toll that the sequence took on the team?
“And it did. But then I think that our guys get a little bit of credit. They came out in the second half and got some stops. We got a big play to Corey (Davis). Again, it’s a 10-point game and that’s what I think I’m going to try to focus on with our team is that when everybody had counted us out, and give them credit, they came back from down 10, we made it a 10 point game. Thought the ball was out, and apparently they disagreed with me.”
Is it almost inexplicable that QB Marcus Mariota could have an almost perfect night and still lose by 17 points?
“The stats are the stats. I think that the loss is really what I’m going to try to focus on. We’ve got to stop the run, second and 25, third and 20. There’s a lot of things other than a guy’s individual stats that we’re trying to concentrate on.”
You just got beat handedly by two division rivals. What does that tell you about where you are?
“We’re 5-6 coming back home, and again, there’s some good things out there. There’s the things I addressed earlier that have to improve and we have to do it more consistently. It starts with me and the coaching staff. We have to make sure our guys are ready to go play. We’ll come back home and prepare and get as healthy as we can and go and try to win a football game.”
What did you see in the offensive line tonight?
“When you lose, nobody played good enough. That’s a good front. We understand that. That was something that, early on, I thought everybody did a good job. When things are clicking, again, we just have to be more consistent throughout. That’s not a defensive front that you want to be forced to drop back and throw the football as much as we did. You want to be able to run the football, mix in some play actions or some different plays that can help you as opposed to making it one-on-one pass rush. That’s sometimes where it was in the second half.”
You ended up in a situation where TE Jonnu Smith was one-on-one with Texans DE J.J. Watt. Was that something that they did?
“(Benardrick) McKinney did a good job. We were coming over there and we were doubling them. B-Mac blitzed and then took us off again. Certainly, I recognized that too. Dion (Lewis) felt like McKinney could be a factor on the play, but there is a design and then there is execution. We just have to make sure that we’re coaching it and that players understand it. That’s the most important thing.”
What happened in the first half with the delay-of-game?
“I didn’t want to call a time out. Third and 14 is about 10 percent. I thought maybe we had a chance if we needed a time out if we had a two-minute drive. Marcus (Mariota) looked at me and I told him I thought the probability of gaining at third and 14 where we may need that two-minute drive to be able to get our time outs, and they were getting the ball in the second half. That’s why I made the decision to just make sure we got a play we like. We’ll just reserve the right to punt at that point in time hoping that we could maybe get the ball back with a minute and twenty later on and take it down there and not give them a chance to get the ball back. Maybe we could get some points. It didn’t work out that way, but that was my thought process. Let’s keep the time out and hopefully use it at the end of the half if we had the football and needed it that instance.”
What are your thoughts on Bob McNair?
“It was good to be able to see Cal, Hannah and their family. I guess I was wishful thinking that I would get to see Mrs. McNair and be able to give her a hug, but they were very supportive of me and my family for four years here. He was a great leader, great vision. I remember him walking down the hallway, he’d come past the coaches’ office, say hello, people would come out and say hi. On through football ops, marketing and accounting. He would stop by everybody’s office all the way down on the way to his office. I really enjoyed the four years I had. He always welcomed my children here around the building. Our deepest sympathies to the McNair family.”
Why were you reluctant to go to RB Derrick Henry early?
“I think that the way the game was going we were mixing him up. Derrick finished the last game running hard, and I made it a point to say, ‘Hey, let’s get him going in the second half.’ You’ve got to be able to continue to get some first downs and get some third down conversions to where we can get those carries up. I’m confident that Derrick will run hard for us, this football team, and we’ll keep giving him carries. It’s just sometimes the game. We got back to 10, it was like, ‘Okay let’s keep going.’ Even when we were down, we need to make a conscious effort to run the football, so we’ll continue to do that with both of those guys.”
How was QB Deshaun Watson able to break containment?
“A lot of that has to do with their maker and what God gave him. He’s talented. He’s a great quarterback. He’s long. He’s athletic. He’s got great play strength. We spied him, rushed him and then sometimes he got out of there. It was one of the keys to the game. We felt like we could rush him, but can we get him down. Even when you get him down, it looks like a wrestling match. He’s not going down real easy. He’s going to be a good player in this league for a long time.”
What’s the mindset for the rest of the season?
“The message was that we got to get back home, get whatever treatment we need to get, we’ve got to stick together and we’ve got to go win. We’re going to coach you, get you as prepared as we can and then we have to go out and play. We’re coming back home. We just didn’t get it done tonight.”
Did you consider going for it on fourth down late in the game?
“When we false started when it was third and three, I was pretty much thinking that in my mind we were going to be four down and then fourth and eight, I think we were in a different situation at that point in time, and we were going to punt it and see if we could do something there.”
S KEVIN BYARD
The two plays – the fourth-down stop and the touchdown – how emotional was that swing for you guys?
“I mean it wasn’t really an emotional swing, they just got up again they made a big play. I wouldn’t say it was demoralizing, because we still fought hard we kept playing and we kept playing. But, at the end of the day giving up big plays in the game like this, that’s how you lose games by two or three touchdowns.”
The Wild Card is still out there. How do you view what’s ahead of you and the sense of urgency?
“I mean we’re not thinking about the Wild Card right now we’re thinking about Wednesday honestly. Getting back in the building, watch the film, getting better and the only thing we can think about is the (New York) Jets right now. We can’t think about no playoffs, no nothing, anything about health. The only thing in front of us is the New York Jets.”
WR COREY DAVIS
Two weeks in a row here, chances of big wins in the division, how disappointing is it?
“It’s real disappointing. Two wins that we would obviously like to have, feels like we needed, but we came up short. It’s on to the next now.”
QB Marcus Mariota, 20 for 21, how do you figure a guy goes that well and the team still comes up short?
“It’s tough. Obviously, we were completing the ball, but not enough plays were made. That’s really what it comes down to.”
QB MARCUS MARIOTA
Did you realize you had only thrown one incompletion all night when it happened?
“No, I had no idea.”
How big is the sequence when you don’t get fourth down and they score on the next play? How much was that a swing point in this game?
“Yeah, I think that was a turning point for sure. We have to do a better job of executing. They did an even better job of kind of turning that momentum and scoring points. You’ve got to give credit to them. We just have to execute better in those situations.”
On the fourth-and-one play that was stuffed - when it was called did you think the play would work for you?
“Oh yeah definitely; I love the call. Stock’s (Luke Stocker) done a great job for us all year. A big physical guy. They just did a better job of executing.”
How much were you in a good rhythm tonight in terms of throwing the football?
“Yeah, not too bad. I can do a better job, though. I didn’t help our guys up front. I was holding onto the ball a little too long. I got us into negative situations taking some of these sacks. I’ll look back at the film, I’ll get better from it, and improve.”
What was the difference in sustaining and not sustaining offensive momentum throughout the game?
“They did a good job on third down against us. To be able to continue to sustain drives, continue to sustain momentum, we’ve got to be able to be efficient on third down. And I think there were times where they came out, we might have had a big play, but we got kind of stalled. For us if we can be the offense we want to be, we’ve got to improve in that area and continue to get in a rhythm continue to sustain drives and score points. “
Can you take us through that long one with TE Jonnu Smith? And how that opened up so quickly. Did he surprise you by being able to pull away?
“I was actually not surprised at all. I see that guy run all the time. He’s one of the faster dudes, I think. I thought it was just a great call. Great design. Great play call. Guys executed well and Jonnu (Smith) finished.”
With five games left, three games in the division, what’s the mindset, what’s the approach moving forward?
“Just focus on tomorrow. Can’t worry about anything else. You just have to take care of your business, take care of your household and find ways to improve. It’s really going to come down to taking it one game at a time. That’s all we can do, that’s all we can control. And from there we will see what happens.”
In the last two weeks you haven’t been able to take care of your household, take care of the business at hand. Why haven’t you been able to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of you?
“What it comes down to is that we haven’t played complementary football. We haven’t done a good enough job across the board. At the same time though, there’s no loss of confidence. We just got to go out there, go back to the film, find where we can all improve on and bounce back. “
Going into next week’s game at home, how important is it to have a hot start? Get that crowd and momentum going?
“Huge. Obviously it’s a short week, you’ve got to flush this quick and move on. We’ve got two games in less than a week. So, when it comes down to it, it’s all about us. It’s all about us taking care of our business and just focusing on what we can control.
CB LOGAN RYAN
What makes it so difficult to defend QB Deshaun Watson?
“He can make some special plays. Plays that we have covered well and stuff, he’s able to run around in the back and scramble and turn nothing into something. So, that’s just his natural abilities. We know he’s super talented. We have to do a good job limiting that. But, that’s going to come when you play them. He makes mistakes often when he does that also and he didn’t make too many tonight, so, credit to him. He played a good game. But, we gave him a little too much on that and it’s just a sour taste in our mouth.”
How tough is it when their offense gets going and QB Deshaun Watson is able to run the ball and throw the ball so effectively?
“Well, he puts pressure because he’s a mobile quarterback and he can make plays with his feet and his arm. The pass defense wasn’t too bad. It was the run defense today. We didn’t dominate the run defense to stop the run, which is a goal of ours as a unit, as an entire team not just the D-line or linebackers, the secondary as well. We didn’t tackle the big plays. When you do that, you’re kind of just losing control of the game and can’t get them in manageable third downs. Just a swing of the game. They were ready to run the ball on us and they kind of had momentum and time of clock with that.”
TE JONNU SMITH
Five games left, and you guys are three games out in the division. You guys put yourself in a tough spot. What has to happen?
“We have to win. Simple. We have to win. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.”
After Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots, can you compare how you guys felt after those two games and what you’re feeling like now after these two games?
“You can kind of guess how we’re feeling right now. But, there’s ups and downs in this league, but you have to stay even keeled. I always say that we can’t get too high, can’t get too low. We’re going to have to learn from our mistakes and move on to next week.”
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Your thoughts on RB Lamar Miller, the contribution he made? Longest run in the NFL this season.
“Yeah, that was a well-blocked play. Very well-blocked play. I thought guys really executed well for the most part all night in the running game. That was a good example of it. Then Lamar (Miller) turned it on. He got out in the open, did a great job. Lamar has been a great pro for us since the day he walked in here. So it was nice to see him be able to get that type of run.”
You said you wanted to get WR Demaryius Thomas involved and you did it tonight. Got to the end zone a couple times.
“Demaryius (Thomas) did a really good job. You know it’s hard. You come in midyear, you have to learn a new offense. That's not easy, no matter how long you've been playing. I thought we did a better job with him this week and he was able to be more involved, really have a good understanding of how we were going to use him. I think he's just an awesome guy, great guy to coach. Was happy to be able to see him do that.”
How did you handle the night with the emotions of Founder, Senior Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mr. McNair passing and wanting to obviously play well? We were told so many times he loved to win, would have loved this night with his team.
“Yeah, it was a great night. I think give credit to our players. We talked a lot about Bob (McNair) right in here, what he meant to the City of Houston, obviously bringing football back to the City of Houston. Just the type of man that he was. He was a very honest man. He was a very Christian man. He would tell you the truth. He'd tell you when he thought you weren't doing well, and he would tell you when he thought you were doing real well. I think these players, even the younger guys who really didn't have a chance to know him very well, I think everybody understood from the veteran players what Bob meant to this organization. They handled it the right way. That was a good win and a tribute to Bob McNair. We gave the game ball to Cal (McNair), because we felt like as a team that win was for Bob right there.”
Eight consecutive wins, first time in Texans history to win eight straight games, first team to start 0-3, be 8-3. How have you seen your team continue to stay united, play together, get to this point in the season?
“We have great character in the locker room. It's a funny thing, though. In the end, like what have we done? We've done a really good job. Don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to downplay. We have great respect for our opponents. We know we've won some tough games and beat some tough teams. But we haven't really done anything yet, if that makes sense. You're in the thing for one reason. We just have to continue to take the mindset or have the mindset that we just need to improve every day, work really hard. But the one thing about our locker room, I really do stress this, is just we really have a bunch of great guys. Training camp, when we had guys stand up and talk about their life story, all the way to today where we are now, you knew it was going to be a fun bunch to be around the whole year no matter what happened. That's the way it's turned out. We just need to try to keep getting better and try to take the mantra that we're going to try to improve every day.”
You were down double-digits pretty quickly. Didn't seem to flinch. Did you learn anything about your team in that little comeback there?
“Yeah, Tennessee did a great job. They came out ready to go, drove the ball down the field. We had a three-and-out, which was just a brutal drive, led by me. We just made some adjustments. We knew that we had a good game plan. We just had to adjust a few things. The players did a great job. This is a resilient bunch. Even when you're down, the players, they really have a lot of faith in each other. They trust that somebody is going to make a play and somebody is going to get it done. That's what happened tonight.”
Your pass-rush, you guys got 6 sacks, a season high, particularly you get sacks from guys that don't always get a sack. Your thoughts on what the pass-rush meant tonight.
“Yeah, one of the strengths of our team is obviously our front. It's probably stating the obvious. We have really dynamic players up front. Obviously the guys, J.J. Watt, great football player, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus. But then there's guys maybe you don't hear a lot about. D.J. Reader, Christian Covington. Angelo Blackson, nobody ever asks me about Angelo Blackson. He's had a good year for us. He has played tough. Then the linebackers. Having Zach Cunningham back, paired in there with B Mack (Benardrick McKinney), I think really helps us. I thought overall our front really attacked, play aggressive, really just tried to do their job.”
The tackle from LB Zach Cunningham, that seemed to be a huge swing. The next play RB Lamar Miller takes off.
“That was a big play, the fourth-down stop. That was obviously a big play. You're backed up. If you go three-and-out there, you're punting backed up. They have good field position. May not turn out to be such a great thing. Defensively did an awesome job on that play. Then we were able to turn it into points, which is huge. We played very good complementary football today, which was good for our team.”
Talk about the play of your offensive line up front, how that unit is coming together.
“Those guys have really improved. They work very hard. Got good leadership in the room with Nick Martin, Senio Kelemete, Zach Fulton, really good leadership. Got guys like Kendall Lamm that have been around here a long time, that are playing really well. They really take a lot of pride in improving. They're a humble unit. It's good when we're able to go out there and have success in the running game. It really says a lot about how them and then Ryan Griffin, Jordan Thomas, Jordan Akins, how those guys blocked, receivers blocking for us did a good job. Really says a lot about the offensive line that we're able to do what we did in the running game.”
QB Deshaun Watson was very efficient again tonight. What has he been able to do working with Quarterback Coach Sean Ryan? You always mention getting the team into the right plays, especially on a night like this, really run this offense like it needs to be run on a game-by-game situation.
“He takes a lot of pride in being a field general. Our offense is really based on the fact that he is the offensive coordinator on the field. It's very difficult to call basically what I would call a locked play in this day and age of the NFL. You don't really know what you're going to see. Dean Pees is a great defensive coordinator, Mike Vrabel. They spin the dial. Really during the week you try to narrow it down. OK, Deshaun (Watson) on this play is either this or this. Let's use this to try to help you out. Then you have to get us into the right play. That's probably 90 percent of the time. He does an awesome job of that. He's a very bright kid. Really fun guy to coach.”
First drive of the second half, you go for it on fourth-and-1 up by 14 points. Pretty aggressive move. What was your thinking on that decision?
“Yeah, I felt like I had a good play there. Then we had a short fourth down later in that drive and I didn't go for it. I just felt like I had a good play at that particular point in time. Then to be honest with you, probably should have gone for it on the next fourth down. Decided to kick the field goal. But we had a couple holding penalties on that drive. Just seemed kind of like a messy drive. I really just wanted to get points out of the drive. But ‘Hop’ (DeAndre Hopkins) and Deshaun (Watson) did a great job on that fourth-and-one. It was a blitz zero. They recognized it. ‘Hop’ adjusted his route. It was really a nice play.”
What was the chemistry between DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson obvious during this game?
“The chemistry? Yeah, they do a good job. They work hard together. They sit right over here, right next to each other. Demaryius (Thomas) is in there. Keke (Coutee). They sit over in this area. When we watch tape, there's a lot of give-and-take in the room. They work really hard. Out at practice, they really try to fine-tune things. Not a lot of reps at practice during this time of the year. They spend a lot of time talking football, trying to work it out on the practice field. Hopefully we can continue to do that. That's going to be a big thing for us.”
When the team was 0-3 you talked about how you and the staff have to do a better job coaching. During this run, what specifically do you think you and your staff have done really well?
“Yeah, I don't know. I think any time you lose, you got to coach better. That's just what I think. I think we as a coaching staff, Romeo (Crennel), myself, Brad Seely. When we don't win, we look in the mirror first. We try to come in here and try to teach the players some of the things that we have to improve on, then some of the things they have to improve on. Our players do a really good job of really trusting what we're trying to tell them, going out on the practice field and trying to execute it. Hopefully that leads to good execution on the game field.”
What would you say has been some of the biggest improvements the team has made collectively?
“I think we're playing a little bit better complementary football. I think if you look back, and I don't really like to look back too much, but outside the Washington game, we're taking care of the ball better. I think defensively we're getting more takeaways, we're able to turn those takeaways into points. Especially that happened tonight. Whether it was a takeaway or good field position. I think we're playing better complementary football. I think our special teams is doing a very good job. I think our coverage units do a good job. Our return game is better. Hopefully it all can continue. Like I said, we haven't done anything. We've won eight in a row. Everybody clap for that. That's fantastic. But, like what have you done? You haven't really done much.”
As you continue on, build on what you're doing, where are you looking for the improvement to come from?
“I still think we can be more consistent. I think whether it's the start of the game or maybe the third quarter, I don't think we're great in the third quarter. I think tonight the start of the game wasn't great. I just think there's times where I can do a better job of helping the team get into a better rhythm, and hopefully that's an area where we can improve, so we're in a good rhythm throughout the game, if that makes sense.”
DE CHRISTIAN COVINGTON
How about that win tonight?
“I mean, when we fell down – what was it, 10-0? All I have to say to that is that this team is resilient. We’ve shown that throughout this season. So, something like that wasn’t going to deter us from what we’re capable of, and this team, you know, we’re a bunch of fighters. So, the proof is in the pudding right there with that game. We just fought our way back, clawed our way back, and you know it was a great team win. Great team win.”
What does a game like that mean for you? Obviously, the team win, but through the injury, you battled back, and get the type of plays that you were making tonight.
“First and foremost, all glory to God. Shoot. Thanks, I thank Him. I thank Him for coming back from this injury. You know, injuries suck, but at the same time you know, thankful to Him, thankful to this team and thankful for my teammates, man. JJ (Watt) was a big part of that today. You know, we just kept feeding off of each other. You know, the rest of the defense kept feeding off of each other. So, it was just a solid team win. A solid defensive effort right there. Speaking on behalf of the defense, but solid, great win. Great team win.”
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
What does it mean to be part of a team that set the franchise record for most straight wins?
“It feels great. Honestly, I didn’t know we set the record. I really wasn’t trying to pay attention to all that. I was just trying to get the win.”
What did you think of what RB Lamar Miller and WR Demaryius Thomas did today?
“They did great. Demaryius coming in having two touchdowns, great home opener. We expect that out of him. Lamar, he’s been due for a big game like that, 100 yards. All he needs is a little crease to break away.”
Was this a statement tonight to let everyone know you’re here to take the division?
“Oh yeah, of course. Tennessee’s a great team. You can’t take nothing against those guys, but we know what we’ve got in this locker room and we know what we can do going forward.”
RB LAMAR MILLER
Do you know that you’re the only player in NFL history to have two 95 or longer touchdown runs in your career?
“No, I didn’t know that until they told me outside. I give all the credit to the offensive line. They did a great job at giving me, (Alfred) Blue and Deshaun (Watson) opportunities to run the ball. I just took advantage of the opportunity.”
That one (previous 97-yard touchdown run) from the Dolphins was really similar, even the way you ran and everything. Did it remind you of that one when you were doing it?
“Not really, my whole mindset is just don’t get caught. You know last time when we played the Dolphins I got caught, so all the guys were giving me a hard time, so that was just the only thing on my mind – don’t get caught.”
What does it mean that you all have been able to win eight straight games and set a franchise record after your tough start?
“It’s a blessing. A lot of people doubted us when we started 0-3, but everybody in this locker room stayed together. Everyday people came to work ready to work and I think the coaches did a great job of getting us ready for football games and everybody’s just been buying in.”
WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS
You spoke about how this offense was complicated when you came in. What are some of the things that you’ve picked up that you’re starting to see more now that you’ve been a part of it for three weeks?
“First thing was just the formations and lining up and being on the ball. Having DeAndre (Hopkins), having four (Deshaun Watson), Coach (John) Perry and all the guys around me and helping me, it came quicker. That’s been big for me, and that’s been big for the team, because I can go out and make plays and try to take some coverage off Hop (DeAndre Hopkins).”
Was it a bit of a relief to get that first touchdown tonight?
“A big relief. Home. It was a big relief.”
This was your first home game here too. What did you think about just the environment, the atmosphere and your first game here is Monday Night Football?
“It was wild. Honoring Mr. (Robert) McNair, that was one of the biggest things. Condolences to his family. Happy to be a part of the Houston Texans and a part of the McNair family. That was one big thing, coming out, getting the crowd – when the defense is on the field, they’re loud. It was great.”
QB DESHAUN WATSON (Transcribed by Hannah Pietsch and Stephanie Ramsey)
How important was it to get RB Lamar Miller going early to open up the rest of the offense?
“It just opens up the whole offense. The safeties get aggressive. The defense has to show what their hand is. That was the challenge tonight for our offensive line and the running backs to set the run game and open up the pass game, and that’s what we did. If the run game is clicking, then we’re going to make sure we stay running with that momentum. The offensive linemen did a great job, and Lamar and (Alfred) Blue did a great job finding holes and getting yards.”
WR Demaryius Thomas had two touchdown catches today in just his third game as a Texan. How was he able to do it?
“His Ps and Qs. He stayed on top of his game, studied his game plan, did what the coaching staff asked him to do. He executed the game plan and each route. I gave him a chance, and he made sure that he capitalized on those opportunities.”
It seems like no matter how you start or what happens, you seem to always feel like you can get it going. What is about this team that makes you feel like you can always overcome whatever happens on the field?
“We always have that momentum and that mindset that the game is never over. Regardless if it’s going good or going bad, we’ve just got to go out there and play our game. The game is never over until it’s over, so each time we touch the field – offense, defense, special teams – we’ve got to go out there and give it 110 percent. The other team is going to make plays, but at the end of the day, we feel like our matchup is better than the opposing team and you’ve got to have that mindset at this level. You can’t go out there scared or timid because the other team is going to have an advantage. So, each and every snap, we’re going out make sure we go out there and give it our all and go out there feeling like we are going to win our matchup.”
Did you have a feeling coming in to the game that you would have chemistry with WR Demaryius Thomas in the redzone or did you all feel each other out during the game and make that connection on the field?
“It takes time. It takes time from film study sitting at the house. He comes over to my crib and we talk one-on-one, we just talk ball in the locker room and also on the practice field. Like I said before, he’s a detailed person. He’s a veteran guy, so whatever the coaching staff asks him to do, he makes sure he does it right. Those opportunities came up where he was one-on-one, and he won his matchup. It just takes time, communicating with one another to make sure we’re on the same page. Sometimes he was the first read and I took advantage of that and he did too.”
Did you feel that the chemistry between you and WR DeAndre Hopkins was obvious in this game?
“For sure. Me and Hop, we see the same things. If he sees something, he communicates with me, and if I see something, I communicate with him. Me and him are just always talking ball when we’re hanging out, when we’re here at the stadium, at the facility. We just make sure that we’re always on the same page. I’ve just got to give him a chance with the ball and those opportunities, and most likely he’s going to come down with it. We’re always talking to get on the same page to make sure he has an opportunity to get the ball in his hands.”
What did it mean to you all to give the game ball to Chairman and COO Cal McNair and to play so well on a night where you honored the man who founded this football team?
“The McNair family is special to us. They put football back in Houston. They’ve been so great for this organization, the City of Houston, and really for my family also. When I got drafted, they connected with my mom and made my mom feel at home. She had tongue cancer, so every time we have a cancer (awareness) week, they make sure that she feels at home and comfortable. They just always communicate with me and my family. Every game really is for the McNair family. I know he’s watching over us, and we’re going to make sure that we make him proud.”
After so many people counted you all out at the beginning of the season, what does it mean to you to lead this team to the longest winning streak in franchise history and be able to do what you all have done to turn it around?
“We just focus on us. We don’t worry about the outside noise. We knew what this team was about. We started slow early on in the season and we were just a couple of plays away from being 3-0, but it didn’t fall our way. We corrected those mistakes and made sure we stayed on top of our game and kept grinding. We just focused on that locker room, and everyone in that locker room made sure that we stayed focused. Each and every week, we took it one week at a time, one day at a time, and now we’re sitting here at 8-3 and have an opportunity to do something special. We’ve got to keep the momentum going and keep focusing on one day at a time, one practice at a time, one meeting at a time. If we can do that, the sky’s the limit for us.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien says that the team hasn’t done much despite winning eight games in a row. How important is that message that there is still a lot of work to be done?
“For sure. There’s a lot of football to be done. Nothing’s solidified, nothing is set in stone. We have a lot more football to go and we have to continue to play Texans football. Each and every week is very important. Each and every week, especially now, November, December, is a playoff game. So, we’re trying to put ourselves in a position to be where we want to be at the end of the year. We left a lot of opportunities out there on the field in all three phases, and we have to come back in tomorrow, watch the film and correct those mistakes. We still haven’t played a complete football (game) on all three phases yet. We have an opportunity to do that next week and we try to continue to improve each and every week.”
The second touchdown felt like the first time in a while that there was a designed run for you. How healthy do you feel now compared to a month ago against Jacksonville?
“I was healthy a month ago, too. Depending on what OB (Bill O’Brien) and the other team is trying to scheme up and what the defense is doing. The opportunity came and I took advantage of it. I just got to go out there and continue to try to pick our spots in those situations. But, you never know when I’m going to keep the ball.
DE J.J. WATT
Can you talk about the aggressive defensive effort your team displayed tonight?
“Yeah, obviously it didn’t start out the way we wanted it to, but I think the way everybody responded speaks volumes about the guys we have out there. Cov (Christian Covington) had an unbelievable night, very happy for him, the way that he played, just guys all over. I mean, again our defense is all about guys making plays. Never know where it’s going to come from, but someone’s going to make a play. Tonight was another example.”
What does it mean to be on a team that set the record for straight wins and doing it on an honorable night?
“Yeah, it feels great. Obviously, we love winning. Winning is always very better than losing it. The one thing Mr. (Robert) McNair wanted was winning. All he wanted was to win, he wanted to win every week, he wanted a team that could win and bring a championship to this city. So, to be able to win eight straight and to be able to win tonight for him was good, and we’re going to try to keep doing that for him.”
What have you learned from this team and bouncing back like the way they did tonight?
“We’ve had some tough situations before, so we may not have had an early deficit like that, but we’ve played overtime games, we’ve played games that came down to the wire. So, we’re used to adversity, we’re used to having to find a way, and we believe in each other, and we believe we’re going to find a way. Offense did a great job going out there and putting some points up, so that helped take some of the pressure off as well. You never know which side of the ball or who’s going to have the biggest effect, and that’s the best part about this team is that there’s so many guys that can step up at any giving time.”
What is “Texans Football” to you?
“It’s finding a way to score more points than the other team. You don’t know how, you don’t know where it’s going to come from, you don’t know if it’s going to need 35 points, you don’t know if it’s going to need 10 points. But it’s finding a way at the end of the game to have more points, and it’s been a lot of fun. It’s great to be with a group like this, because we’ve just been finding away, and it’s like I said, it comes from different areas, different people, different ways, but we’re always a finding a way.”
What has been the top thing to stick out on this journey with the team?
“Daily work. Daily, daily work. I think it’s just nothing extraordinary, nothing wild. It’s just we’ve had a routine, we’ve came in every week, done the exact same thing, gone to work, practice, meetings, workouts, and guys have just put in the time. They’ve been grinding every single day and putting in the time. The results come from when you work, and I think that’s what we’re going to continue to do. Everybody’s all in.”
Looking at the box score of this game, is it weird to only allow a team to score 17 points?
“I don’t know, I guess yeah. Yeah, I mean that’s yeah. Philip Rivers only had one. That’s a random facet, I don’t know why I said that. I was watching the (San Diego) Chargers game yesterday and he only had one, so pretty good. But no, we won.”
After plays like the sack fumble, what kind of conversations do you have with your family?
“Ah, it’s the best. I love watching them play whenever I get a chance. That’s why yesterday was so fun when you’re off and you get to watch them play. I came back to my phone after the game to a group text with them with 148 text messages. And you can imagine what goes on in there, it takes me a while to read through. But everything from excited for me, to talking shit to me, to everything in between, so it’s a blast. What you would imagine three brothers all playing in the NFL would be like. We’re just three brothers and we act like brothers, and we give each other grief, and we’re also so proud and happy for each other when they have success. They play each other next weekend, on Sunday night, so I’m excited to watch that one and sit back, and get to watch them go at it.”
The Tennessee Titans take on the Houston Texans in Week 12 of the 2018 season on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 at NRG Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)
The Tennessee Titans get set to take on the Houston Texans in Week 12 of the 2018 season on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018 at NRG Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP, Talha Khawaja, Jorge Luna)