TENNESSEE TITANS VS. HOUSTON TEXANS POSTGAME QUOTES
Sunday, December 15, 2019
HEAD COACH MIKE VRABEL
(on why cornerback LeShaun Sims touched the final punt)
Listen, come on now. There were a lot of plays in that game. How fitting that you would ask that question, Paul? That of all those plays in that game. Walking in here with Stretch (John Streicher), I said one idiot is going to ask me that question. Like, OK, whether it's on the 20-yard line or the 11-yard line. Let's go back and talk about the game, Paul.
(on if kicker Ryan Succop is still doing a good job)
Well, he had one blocked. I don't know. We will have to go look at the protection. Again, I thought when we got them passed the line of scrimmage, they went in on the extra points. I don't know what happened on the block. Was it low? Did we get penetration, pushback? I've told you that process is about the snap, the hold and the protection.
(on if executive vice president/general manager Jon Robinson is doing a good enough job giving him players in the kicking game that can make field goals)
Jon (Robinson) and I work every single day together to try to improve this team whether that's in practice, in the roster, personnel. We're trying to find everything we can to help the team in every position, every position possible. That's what we try to do every single day.
(on if he thinks the slow start snowballed)
Yeah, there are certain things that we talk about that you do good, that you do bad, and the stuff that gets you beat. I think that finding ways to go down 14-nothing would be one of those ways that gets you beat. It's just hard to overcome that in this league. I knew we would battle back. I know the type of players that are in that locker room. When you turn the ball over or you give up big plays, missed kicks, those are all things that contribute to getting yourself beat. Now, a missed tackle or a missed block, they kick the ball and we only gain two yards, those are bad, but those don't get you beat. You can fix those, and there's a lot of good stuff out there.
(on if tight end Anthony Firsker should have caught the pass that resulted in a turnover)
Should he have caught it? Come on, Joe. You're a professional writer. I don't know. The guy came in and hit him as the ball got there.
(on how big of a swing that play caused)
You've got to overcome plays like that. Whitney (Mercilus) made a great play. The guy drove on the ball, hit him as he got there. Looked like Whitney was turning and hustling, and the ball popped into his hand. I don't know. I mean, I know that everyone was hustling down there to make the tackle and to line up and allow us to play again. They didn't score off of it. It wasn't like they returned it for a touchdown and we're all standing there watching. So we had a chance to play defense, and we didn't. Usually, you would hope to try to alter some of that momentum and force them to kick a field goal right there. That can be deflating, and then I'll talk to the defense, and we'll try to look at that. When they return something like that, they have a huge momentum change in play that if we're able to force them to a field goal right there, you kind of settle down a little bit.
(on the decision on the fake punt)
Just trying to get something there where you're in that long field goal range. New rules, we'll have to execute it a little better. Try to get Dane (Cruikshank) out there and create some contact, which would have then been defensive pass interference. I thought that was about as much chance of converting fourth-and-10. At that point in time where we were with 14-nothing, trying to get something there late at the half.
(on what the message is now with two games to play)
There's a lot at stake in every game. I would imagine that if we find a way to win this week, I would imagine have all the opportunities in the world, but we've got to circle back and get in there tomorrow and work and practice, and meet, lift, be critical, treat, get healthy as possible. Just make sure that we're playing our best football late and improving as the season wears on. I know there's going to be a lot of good things to point out and there are some things (that are) bad that we've got to fix, and then I talked about the things we have to eliminate.
(on how disappointing it is that the team's playoff chances are now in the hands of other teams)
You would have to tell me that. I don't know what that scenario is. I don't focus on that. I try to focus on winning games, which we didn't do today. We will have to do a better job, a much better job. That's what my focus is. It's not trying to determine what the scenario is or who are we rooting for. We need to all be rooting for the Titans to make sure that we improve and put ourselves in the position to win.
(on why he went with kicker Ryan Santoso instead of kicker Ryan Succop for the onside kick)
Those are tough to get, first of all. We try to find things to give us the best chance to get a seven-percent play towards our side. They have a 93 percent chance of recovering it on their return unit. We just go through different things and try to find ways to get the ball there at the end.
(on while in a desperation scenario why cornerback LeShaun Sims was compelled to touch the ball on the punt)
Well, how do we get the ball at the 25 if LeShaun (Sims) isn't compelled to touch the ball? I mean, are you kidding me? I'm going to answer that? That on a punt, the ball goes to the 25? Heck, is this serious? If you want to ask a question, then figure out what the rules are. Like, it doesn't go to the 25.
(on having a touchback scenario)
Yeah, there would be. Again, we've got nine guys up there. It's a desperation. We really are trying to focus on just blocking the punt and making sure the time doesn't run out. If the time doesn't run out and we get the ball on the 11, we're still going to be in desperation mode, still don't need to take a sack, still don't need to do all those other things. The percentages, I'm sure you analytical people, will tell you that we had a zero percent chance of probably winning that game with where we were, whether it was on the 20 or….
(on throwing away last minute plays and if they matter)
No, I didn't say that. I was just saying, it wouldn't have mattered what plays we called on the 11 or the 20. We were still going to be in a desperation mode with no timeouts, forcing to get the ball. They were going to try do everything they could to keep us in bounds. We were going to have to get it down there and try for some desperation play or some ridiculous field goal. At that point in time, the nine yards, because again it goes to the 20 when it goes in the end zone, that the yardage wouldn't be as necessary as the time. I think we all felt, at that point in time LeShaun (Sims) felt like, 'I'm trying to get this thing so it doesn't just sit there on the three, four, five or 10-yard line and bleed the clock.' Because in those punt situations, believe it or not, you can get 12 or 13 seconds run off the clock when a team punts it down there and nobody touches it. They let it go and the officials kind of look at each other and then they blow the whistle. I think that's the most important thing that we were trying to let happen, was that the time did not run off. We were going to need a least enough to run three plays.
(on considering kicking deep versus the on-side kick)
Yes, we did briefly but then you have to have a lot of guarantees that you're going to guarantee that they're not going to bring it out and at that point in time, their coaches would have instructed them to then, unless the thing goes into the Cumberland River, to bring it out. Because, again, at that point in time, Paul, if they took a touchback, it would have then been on the 25 but he would have brought it out. And even if they get it at the five-yard line, you're at the two-minute warning and then they're kneeling on it. That's a lot of guarantees that you can kick it 12 yards deep so that they don't bring it out. That's what we would try to instruct our players to do at that last minute. All those little situations are under, any circumstance, you have to get that thing out of there to get it to the two-minute warning.
(on the attempt to get a review of the last second with the official)
Again, I just was trying to get one second. I thought that I saw two when the ball was snapped. I guess they didn't. Bill (Vinovich) said the replay official would have let them know but he didn't. Again, it didn't come down. There a lot of things that we have to do before that to win a football game, so, again, that's my main focus. We'll do the best job we can at those end of game situations. We have to do a much better job in the 59 minutes and 42 seconds that led up to that.
(on the defense no doing enough to keep Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson from being so effective)
I mean, they've got two great players and there were times where, to me, it either looked like three, four, five plays and we're getting off the field and it looked like we were playing defense or we're giving up some chunk plays and the quarterback extending plays. And of course, #10 being there at other end of those play extensions. We knew that that was going to be a factor in the game and it doesn't get any easier. That was what it really looked like to me. They either got the ball down there and were able to score or it looked like we got to play pretty good defense. It looked like there was no in-between.
(on being disappointed on how the team played today)
That's hard to say right now, that really is. I'm disappointed because we lost and so I'm going to try and focus on some of the things that I saw when they came back and they fought back. That's going to be hard to do right now. I think that'll get easier, maybe when I see it on tape. Again, that's not what this league's about, saying that you played well and not won. We would all have rather have played not as well and won the football game. Right now, I can't say that. I would say that we all have to do a better job preparing and ultimately coaching and playing on Sunday.
QUARTERBACK RYAN TANNEHILL
(on how disappointing the loss was)
It's hugely disappointing. I was excited about the opportunity. I think our entire team was, and we didn't come out and play well early. I don't think any side of the ball would say we played well early. You play against good teams in this league, and you have to play them for four quarters, not two. I know offensively, we have a lot of things to clean up and get better early in the game, and not get behind 14 points. That's on us early, on the offense, that we had opportunities. We weren't consistent enough as an offense in the first half in making those plays, and you get behind 14 and you're in a tough spot. I was proud of our guys the way they battled back. I thought we handled that adversity like we have all year, and fighting back and trying to put ourselves in a position at the end, which we did. But it wasn't good enough early. It wasn't good enough early, and it starts with me.
(on how big of swing in the game it was to have his pass intended for tight end Anthony Firkser intercepted)
It was huge. I had man coverage on the outside, I had exactly what we wanted. We wanted to get (Anthony Firkser) Firk there coming on the inside, and the guy knocked the ball loose right after Firk had his hands on it, and it just happened to go right in (Whitney) Mercilus' lap. Two weeks in a row that it popped right into someone's lap, so that's a tough situation and a tough swing for us. It's a 14-point swing and that was huge.
(on the mindset now that the Titans' playoff fate is in another team's hands)
All we can do right now is learn from this tape and get ready to beat the Saints. When you're in that situation, obviously it's not a situation you want to be in, but you've just got to control what you can control and win the one game that's in front of you. Our opportunity this week will be with the Saints, so learn from this tape, make the corrections and get ready to play the Saints.
(on if he knew wide receiver A.J. Brown would get 13 targets in the game)
No, you never really know exactly. We try to game plan to get everybody involved, don't know exactly how the game's going to play out. He was making plays, so I kept going back to him and he showed how dangerous he is.
(on the frustration level over not being able to make the big play down the stretch today)
It didn't happen late in the game. I thought the offense came out and I think moved the ball well. Three-for-four, really, if you don't count that last one play. Three-for-four in the second half, so I think it was just too little, too late. We had many opportunities in the first half and weren't good enough. It was too little, too late. We kind of needed a hope and a prayer. Onside kicks are tough with the new rules. I'm not sure exactly what the percentages are but I know they're extremely low. So, you get behind like that and you're down two scores late in the game, it's a tough situation, and we needed something spectacular to happen on that onside kick and unfortunately we didn't get it.
(on how he's been able to run the ball more successfully this season)
I don't know, I just think the opportunities have presented themselves. The one today we had a keeper on the left side, fourth down, and they were kind of buried in there looking for Derrick (Henry) to get the ball. When we have a back like Derrick, a lot of eyes go to him. Rodger (Saffold) got out and did a good job sealing off the edge and that leaves one guy. He can either take me or go to the corner with Pru (MyCole Pruitt), so I didn't do a whole lot on that play, so not a lot of credit for me on that play. But, you just look for the opportunities to present themselves and make them count for your legs, you know, use your feet as a weapon.
(on if he has a different degree of desperation on his runs this year)
I don't think I have a different degree of anything. I think that if I can use my legs, and pick up some first downs and use my legs as a weapon, then it creates another element that they have to account for with our offense and help us move the chains.
(on how much it hypes up the offense when the defense makes a stop when the opponent looks certain to score)
It's huge. In the third quarter, we had a long drive, go down and score and then they kind of march the ball right down the field. So, you down 14 there and it's going to be tough sledding. Our defense, they kept playing. We said they were going to defend every inch of the field. They kept playing. I don't know who got a hand on it, but they got a hand on it and made a huge play there, so that really kept us in it at that point. I think we were able to go down and score after that. So like I said, I have a lot of confidence in our defense and I think they have confidence that they're going to continue playing until they blow the whistle and say, 'Touchdown,' or going the other way. So, that's been multiple times this year that they've come up with a big play down deep in the red zone, and it definitely kept us in it today.
(on if tight end Jonnu Smith needs more touches out of the backfield)
That's a play we've had up for a while, and it just kind of presented itself today. It was awesome to see Jonnu (Smith) get out on the outside. It was a huge play. I don't know how many yards he gained, but it was a huge play. You saw his speed. He ran through a couple tackles as well, so he's definitely a weapon for us and that's just another element of how we can use him.
(on how tough the loss is considering the buildup to the game)
It's tough. Like I said, it's a big opportunity for us. Anytime you're at home, we expect to win these games on our home field, and we didn't play a four quarter game. We came out slow and weren't consistent enough in the first half, and that's something that we're going to need to fix with a good team coming in next week.
(on how confident he is that the team can make corrections for the rematch at Houston in two weeks)
That's what we do every week, is look at the opportunities to improve, fix the things that we can fix, and go out, look at the tape, fix them on the practice field and be ready to make the right play the next time.
(on if they will have to have a pass-first offense to beat the Saints next week)
I have no idea. I haven't looked at – we haven't talked about game plan or anything like that. Obviously a high-powered offense that can score points, but we've got a few days to start game planning for that.
(on if he will be watching Monday Night Football)
Yeah, of course. Of course.
RUNNING BACK DERRICK HENRY
(on not being able to grind out a win)
It was a tough loss.
(on if he was hurting at all during today's game)
No, I wasn't hurt. I'm good. I played, I finished.
(on if he could have run as fast as possible if necessary)
(on if he was surprised the Titans didn't score any points in the first half even though they were moving the ball efficiently)
We've just got to finish drives and get in the end zone. We didn't do that. That's how we've got to come out. We've got to be explosive to try and put plays together to give us a chance.
(on how tough it is to walk away from Week 15 without a win)
A big, important game – a division game. We were tied and came up short. We've just got to go back to the drawing board and get ready for next week. Give them a lot of credit, they played well.
(on what the key is for him to put Week 15 behind him)
Watch this film and see what we did and didn't do well, make corrections, and get ready for next week. Like I said, give all the credit to them. We've got some stuff we need to do to help us get better next week.
(on how frustrating it is to not have control of things in the AFC South at this point of the season)
You don't know what can happen. Every week is different. Anything can happen. We're just going to keep working, keep our head down, and keep doing what we need to do to put us in the best position to get to the playoffs.
(on if there was an opening on his runs in Week 15)
Call the play, try to run it and got what I could. They made a good play on defense.
TIGHT END JONNU SMITH
(on how confident the team felt after rallying to tie the score after a 14-0 deficit)
We are a confident team and you know our confidence is the reason we have been having success lately. You know, it's a week-to-week league and we just didn't get it done this week. But we are going to come in and fix it, the mistakes we made and get this this thing cleaned up and get back rolling.
(on what he saw on his 57-yard run)
I just seen daylight, just trying to make a play and put us in the best situation to win.
(on if his running play was something the team had been working on for a while)
There area lot of things in the arsenal, you know. Just something we can take advantage of, just getting lined up fast. Getting on the ball, quick snapping it and seeing the play.
(on what the mindset of the team will be in a battle for a playoff spot)
We have the same chip on our shoulder that we have been having. You know, we are not front runners. We are going to be the same whether things are going great or things are going bad. We are going to be hard workers, put our hard hats on, we'll work. That's just who we are. That's the identity of this team. That's actually what we are going to do.
TIGHT END ANTHONY FIRKSER
(on how tough it is to take the loss)
We have been working hard to get back. We are going to keep our heads up and keep moving forward, keep trying for the playoffs.
(on the defender making a play resulting in an interception)
Yeah, I've got to make that catch and control the ball and not let it pop out like that.
(on what the team needs to do moving forward)
We have just got to keep our heads up and learn from our mistakes out there and keep getting better.
WIDE RECEIVER TAJAÉ SHARPE
(on if it was hard to believe the team did not score points after moving the ball in the first half)
Yeah, you know we did a good job, it was kind of hit or miss. We had a three and out, but other than that we did a good job moving the ball. We didn't do a good enough job finishing, putting points on the board. We turned the ball over too many times. And that's going to come back and haunt you.
(on rallying back from 14-point deficit)
Even though we were down 14 points, nobody in this locker room put their heads down. Our confidence never wavered so we had all the faith in world that we were going to come back and make it a ballgame.
WIDE RECEIVER A.J. BROWN
(on how hard it will be getting over the loss after working hard to get to this point)
To be honest with you, I just feel like we are going to come in tomorrow and look at it. It's over now, so I mean we've got to keep getting better, keep driving. We can't dwell on it.
(on if having a large number of targets allowed him to get in a groove)
I wish I had a lot of them back. I try to catch every ball, so I am going to do a better job, keep working and try to catch every target.
GUARD RODGER SAFFOLD III
(on if it looked like teams took turns giving away opportunities)
Yeah, it is always a big fight especially when you go against a divisional opponent. You are likely going to see some crazy football games unfold.
(on the running game)
Honestly, I don't think we did what we needed to do in the run game. We were able to pop a big one with Jonnu (Smith). We were able to get a couple of plays here and there, but we weren't consistent enough and you know that starts with me and the rest of the O-line. We just need to make sure we are able to just grind out, grind out these teams to get yards, grind up the yards up the field. The four or five-yard gains put us in better position to continue and sustain drives. We just weren't able to do that today.
(on how tough it is with the loss at home)
Yeah, I mean it is extremely tough, but at the end of the day it is still wide open. We've still got a chance. We are right there so it all comes down to what we are going to do these next couple of weeks and the first thing being this week.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN JEFFERY SIMMONS
(on defending Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson)
He's a great player. He makes plays, and that's one of the things we talked about as a defense. You know we have to contain him, don't let him run. We came into this game like, you know we have to stop him and stop his drives. We're going to come in tomorrow and see what we can correct, and move on from this and learn from it.
(on the disappointment of tying the game in the third quarter only to have the Texans regain the lead)
That's just the point of the game. Their guys made plays and we have to be able to bounce back, especially if their offense is going like that. Our defense just has to go out there and get a stop in. That's what tomorrow is for, come in and watch film, just come in and make the corrections.
(on his batted ball in the third quarter that led to linebacker Jayon Brown's interception)
My guard pulled and I was getting ready to cross the center, and I saw (Deshaun) Watson patting the ball like he was getting ready to toss it.
(on the loss to Houston today)
It's always tough losing in this league. No one, especially me, wants to lose. I know this team hates to lose, because you can see it on guy's face. We are hungry. We want to win this division, and we want to win and keep winning game by game. Losing was not an option for us. Next week we are ready for another challenge.
INSIDE LINEBACKER JAYON BROWN
(on the loss today to Houston)
It is what it is. Houston is a really good team and today they got the better of us. We have to watch this film, make the corrections and be really critical of ourselves, and make them, and look forward to next week. All we control is wining this next game, this week, and taking it day by day. Let's get these practices in, improve, and get back rolling.
(on the performance of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson)
He got out of the pocket and extended the plays, and found receivers deep, which is what he has been doing all season. We have to watch for plays like that, that happened today, and the run plays that they got on us. See what we did wrong and get it fixed.
(on the Titans' mindset after tying the game in the third quarter and having Houston came back to retake the lead)
It was through the roof, we never doubted ourselves. We thought we were in it to the very end until the clock hit zero. We just have to limit those big plays that they had, and play better defense to give our offense a better chance. In this league, when it's late-season games like this, the margin of error is really, really thin. So we know that, and Houston took advantage of that, and we have to watch film and make corrections.
(on Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins' key catches in the second half)
You have to contain him the whole game, and unfortunately we didn't do that. So, the outcome is what it is. He did a really good job today.
INSIDE LINEBACKER RASHAAN EVANS
(on allowing Houston to establish their running game today)
We have to clean some stuff up. It's late in the season. We have to make sure that when we play these two big games against the Saints and then the Texans again, we just have to be a lot better on run defense, and also with passing. So, this is a learning opportunity for us to go back to the drawing board and get better.
(on the Titans falling behind 14-0 by halftime)
It was hard for us to catch up. It was 0-14 in the first half. Really hard for us to catch back up and be able to get back in the game for us to have the opportunity to score again. We just have to make sure we start better, start faster in the first half so we give ourselves a chance on the back end. We just knew second half we had a different mindset. Different change of just how we wanted to play this game. I feel like we did that towards the end, but in this game you have to make sure you play all four quarters that way. I feel like in the first half we just didn't give ourselves a good chance at being able to come back in the back end.
(on today's loss)
It's a bitter pill to swallow, but now is not the time to harp on a loss like this. We've got to make sure that we change everything that we did this game and go back to the drawing board. I have a different mindset going into the Saints game, because this Saints team is somewhat better that this Texans team, for a fact showing on film. For us, we have to play our best games these two games and let everything else play where it wants to play. Our mindset has to be that these two games are Super Bowl games, and we have to finish strong.
(on how big Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson's scramble plays were in the second half)
Those were some big plays. He is an exceptional athlete. As a defense, we have to do a lot better with his containment, making sure he can't run. He makes some of his best plays when he is on the run, so next time we play him know that just with the situation, our defense needs to check a couple of things that will contain him.
(on what the Titans' focus will be for the remaining two games this year)
For us as a defense, we have to do a lot better of changing some things to give ourselves a better opportunity to stop the run. Not only that, but being able to contain (Deshaun) Watson in the pocket, and not let him scramble and make big plays like he did this game. The great thing is we have another opportunity against these guys on the back end of the season. As a team, we can't harp on this loss. We have to move on. We have to make sure that we play our best two games of the season against the Saints and the Texans, and that's exactly what we are going to do.
TEXANS HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
(on bouncing back from last week's loss)
We have got a good locker room. These guys, they turned the page. They were focused this week. It was a good week of practice. We put a lot of time in and we knew it would going to be a very difficult game. This team had won six out of seven, and I think it was four in a row. On the road, a tough place to play, a good football team, so I give our guys a lot of credit. They overcame a lot of adversity and we were able to come in here and get a win.
(on the Texans' play following the 14-14 tie)
This team overcame a lot of adversity this game. We turned it over, the ball was batted in the air on a pop pass, those things happen. We were able to put some drives together to answer their drives. I think that was a big part of the game. We've driven the ball all year pretty good. We just need to finish drives better, and I thought on those two drives we finished the drive pretty well, and we used the clock pretty well at the end of the game to not give them enough time. It was a very tough win, and they've got a good team, and we will see them again in two weeks.
(on slowing down the Titans' offense)
I think our guys competed hard. I don't know if we slowed them down, they still did some things. We did a good job against the run but they got some running yards. I thought we did a good job at times against the pass, but we can do better. We can play a better 60 minutes of football all the way around, but I thought our guys competed hard.
(on the defensive performance and Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus' interception )
I was on the bench with the offense when that happened. Great job. I have got to see it on film but it was a great job, and a great job by Whitney (Mercilus) to get that, and taking it back where he did. That kind of got us going. I think that was the play of the game, really. We moved the ball on the first drive but we had an interception there, so I think that play really got us going.
(on making plays in the fourth quarter)
I think that these guys stay focused the whole game. They played 60 minutes. It wasn't an easy game. We knew there were some things we could do in the passing game. That's a very difficult defense to go up against. Dean (Pees), and Mike (Vrabel), and the players that they have do a great job. It was just a hard fought game.
(on the performance of Texans running back Carlos Hyde)
He runs hard. I mean, he gets his pads down. He's got good vision. He's a hard guy to tackle especially when he gets going and he has been like that all year. I think this is the most yards he has rushed for in his career, I think he is over 1,000 (yards) now after today. Credit to the offensive line, those guys played one of their better games offensive line-wise, and the tight ends blocked well, so it was a good game for running the football.
(on Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson's leadership)
Yeah, everybody on the team knows what he can do. He's a guy that we always know we're in the game, even if there's a mistake made by anybody, we're in the game. Even last week, we feel like we were still in that game, as bad as that was. Then this game, definitely there were some things that weren't that great, but that's football. That's the NFL, and if you can overcome adversity in a game in the NFL like that then you've got a chance, and that was what gave us a chance today. Everybody stayed focused and locked in, and was able to overcome some bad plays and make some good plays and we ended up winning.
(on being in a position to win the division)
Yeah, I think we have to take the approach of – really, we've got to get on a plane, we've got to get back, we'll be off tomorrow to get some treatment on the guys that are banged up, and get working on Tuesday on Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay is a good football team. I think they won today maybe. Did they beat Detroit today? So, we've got them in a short week on Saturday, which is a different deal and we've got to get ready for them. So, I don't think we should even think one second about anything other than Tampa Bay and that should be the whole goal.
(on Deshaun Watson's drive after the Titans tied the game)
That was a really good drive. We had to have an answer there. Those are the key drives in NFL football games, when you feel like that other team has momentum and you can put a drive together. Those are big drives. We've done that a couple of times this year in wins that we've had and that's big, and we have to continue to be consistent with that. Because those things happen – you give up a drive, it's tied, crowd is going crazy, you've got to try to stem the tie a little bit, and our guys did a good job on that drive.
(on Texans cornerback Lonnie Johnson Jr.'s play on the fake punt)
Tennessee does a great job with their special teams. They have a lot things you have to be ready for. It looked like the guy was open initially, but Lonnie (Johnson) recovered, and Lonnie's got great length so he was able to jump up and bat the ball and it was really a nice play.
(on the plan to slow down running back Derrick Henry)
Again I think it just comes down to setting the edge, playing good gap control on the inside and tackling. I mean, he's a hard guy to tackle once he gets going. Once he gets into the teeth of the defense he's rolling down the tracks, it's not easy. So you have to try to do the best you can to stop him at the line of scrimmage. I thought our guys did a really good job of that.
(on bouncing back after last week's performance)
It's interesting. I think it says a lot about the team, that we have a team that can overcome adversity. That was not good last week, obviously. We have a team and a coaching staff that can overcome adversity, but it also says that we have to be consistent. Can we do it again? That's what we have to do. We've got to be consistent in what we're doing and how we approach it every single day, and that's what we're going to try to do is be consistent in our approach this week.
(on if Deshaun Watson's persona and optimism can carry the team)
Absolutely. He's got an excellent attitude. He really is, he's the same guy every day. He's very positive. He's got a lot of confidence in his own ability, he's got a lot of confidence in his teammates. He loves being a Houston Texan. I think he has a lot of fun playing football. It's a place where he's in a zone on the football field. He loves being on the football field. He loves practice, he loves everything about it. I think that is the energy that the team feeds off of. They know that and Deshaun's the type of guy – with a guy like Deshaun at quarterback, your team feels like they have a chance to win every game they play.
TEXANS QUARTERBACK DESHAUN WATSON
(on his mindset in the fourth quarter and not letting the game slip away)
For sure. I mean, we had to lock in and that's what we did. It came down to that fourth quarter, of standing up and getting a drive in and getting points on the board, and the defense making a stop. So yeah, it was just something that we definitely didn't want to, you know, let it slip out of our hand.
(on bouncing back following last week's loss to the Broncos)
Yeah, I mean, you deal with the adversity. That's part of the NFL. Not everything goes your way throughout the week, during games, throughout practice, everything. You've got to be able to turn the page, live in the next moment, take care of the next moment and focus on the next task at hand. We have a great locker room that a lot of guys are mature in that way to be able to turn the next page and keep focusing on what's next.
(on the Texans playmakers making plays in the fourth quarter)
Pretty much, yeah. I mean, you've got to give Tennessee credit. They did their job and had some things covered up, but, you know, that's when your best players got to make plays and (DeAndre Hopkins) definitely did that. I was able to get the ball to him and let him just go work.
(on the Texans big wins building confidence for the team)
For sure. I mean, we're going to go into each and every game confident knowing that we can play with everyone. We have a great roster, a lot of great guys that play hard, that work their tail off each and every week to get ready for Sunday. So, it doesn't matter who we're playing against. We're definitely going to give our best and go out there and try to win.
(on his process for bouncing back after a mistake)
Just going to the next play. That's it.
(on Texans running back Carlos Hyde being extra motivated today with Titans running back Derrick Henry on the other sideline)
I mean, that's every week with Carlos (Hyde). I doubt he's worried about the other opponent or whoever else is on the other side of the field. I mean, Carlos is always running hard. That's his mentality each and every week. We're glad that he's on our team, and he's healthy and keeps doing what he's doing. He deserves all the credit, he deserves more hype, and he deserves more touches. So, we're definitely going to ride behind Carlos and ride behind our O-line because they're doing a great job for us
(on what he learned about the Titans during today's game)
We've got to put them away whenever we have the opportunities. We were up 14-0, and they drove down and scored. And then, we drove down and had a tipped ball that got turned over in the red zone. And then they went down and scored again. We've got to be able to execute, and whenever they do make plays – because they're a great team, we have to make sure that we continue to do the same thing and fire right back at them. We've just got to make sure that we put them away because they're not going to let up.
(on Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel knowing more about the Texans offense due to his time with the team)I guess you could say certain things. I mean, they had a great game plan with me keeping the ball on some zone reads and things like that, and different schemes that we try to put in, and what we want to do with certain players. But, at the end of the day, they can know all they want to know but we go out there and execute, and the best players got to make plays. They had some great plays they made, and we had some too. So, at the end of the day, you still have to make those plays and win your matchup.
TEXANS WIDE RECEIVER KENNY STILLS
(on catching two touchdown receptions)
I just try to take advantage of my opportunities. When the ball comes, I try to make the catch. It came to me a couple times today.
(on what happened on the plays he caught his touchdowns on)
The first one was just man coverage and it was a foot race to the back of the endzone. Deshaun (Watson) threw a perfect ball. The second one he checked to a man beater and they were playing man, and he threw another perfect ball.
(on being one step closer to securing a playoff spot)
We play to win, and it's always good to get a victory and put last week's game behind us. We're going to enjoy this on the plane ride and get our minds right for Tampa and try to finish the season strong.
(on if he was surprised at how much the team benefitted from having wide receiver Will Fuller V back in the lineup this week)
It's not surprising at all. We're kind of like a three-headed monster, and then you have the backs and the tight ends. We put a lot of pressure on defenses and we know that. We just have to stop hurting ourselves, and execute, and stop turning the ball over.
(on Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus' interception sparking the offense)
That was big, that was huge. I can't believe he got ran down from behind. Somebody should have blocked for him. That was a big play for us that shifted momentum, and we were able to get points on the board after that.
TEXANS WIDE RECEIVER DeANDRE HOPKINS
(on getting the win)
It feels great. It is a tough place and a tough team to play against. Getting this win is good, but it's a short week and we're on to Tampa Bay.
(on if having wide receiver Will Fuller V back on the field opened things up for the offense)
Always, having Will (Fuller V) out there helps this whole offense. He is a guy that you have to keep your eye on downfield making plays.
(on the back-to-back scoring drives in the second half after the Titans tied the game)
Obviously, got a shot downfield to me, which helps. Just playing ball and keeping our composure and not panicking.
(on Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus' interception sparking the offense)
That is something that we have been expecting out of Whit (Whitney Mercilos), to make a play like that. He is one of our leaders on the team, and that's one of those situations where Whit just being around the ball and having a knack for it, and him being able to run like that, that helps us a lot. That definitely helped our momentum.
(on if he gave Whitney Mercilus any grief for not making it to the end zone on the interception return)
He's a D-end, and even though it's Whitney, you expect him to score. But, he made a big play which helped us score, so not too much.
(on bouncing back after the two interceptions)
We have been in a situation where we have turned the ball over early and kept fighting. We know the type of team that we have, defense and offense, to overcome things like that. We don't panic, and going forward just trying to start better and score on that first drive to help everybody out.
(on this team knowing how to overcome adversity)
A lot of these guys on this team have won the AFC Championship before. We have a lot of new guys on this team and they know how to play championship ball. That mix right there of having new guys, and guys that have been here before that have won a championship, know the only way to win a football game or win a championship is to overcome adversity and keep your cool. Having a great mix of guys in this locker room like we have helps.
TEXANS DEFENSIVE BACK JONATHAN JOSEPH
(on the significance of the win)
It was a great team win. Everybody had a helping hand in it, and it's one of those wins where coming into this game, we knew at the end of the day we had to come in here and win this game. I thought we came here today and played tough and held on for all four quarters. We showed the type of football we can play against a good team like the Titans.
(on how big the interception from Texans outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus was)
That was big time, that's the type of player Whit (Whitney Mercilus) is. As a pass rusher, you like to pass rush every play, but he's an unselfish player. He drops in coverage at times. He helps guys out, he chips guys, he does whatever it is that's asked of him as a teammate. That was an unbelievable, momentum-changing play. That took points off the board.
(on at which point in the interception return did Mercilus run out of gas)
Oh, as soon as he had it in his hands. As soon as he picked it up. I was shocked he got that far. But, that shows the type of athlete he is.
(on answering the Titans physicality)
We did well, I think. Obviously, they popped that long run down there they had with (Jonnu) Smith, but other than that I think we did a great job all day with the runs. The way they run the ball, they want to make plays here and there. But, I think for the most part we kept them bottled up, and look on the other side – Carlos Hyde had 100 yards rushing today.
TEXANS CENTER NICK MARTIN
(on the Texans performance in important games)
It's big. We fight to the finish no matter what. All these guys, the whole team, they really do.
(on the offensive line's performance in the win)
I've got to watch the film. It's never as good as you think, it's never as bad as you think.
_(on the Texans' consecutive scoring drives to win the game) _
I mean, that's just executing the plays that are called. As an offense as a whole, or a defense as a whole, we did a great job all day. It's complementary football. They responded when we needed them, and we responded when they needed us. It's a team game.
(on the quarterback Deshaun Watson to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins connection heating up in the fourth quarter)
What they do is incredible. It's awesome. Nothing surprises us anymore. Anything with them is possible. They're playmakers, and that's what they do in big games.
(on Watson's demeanor after mistakes)
The same. He's always the same. He's the most poised player I've ever been around
TEXANS LINEBACKER BRENNAN SCARLETT
(on what this win meant to the team)
I think it was great, and obviously now, being in control of our own destiny as far as the division goes, that's huge for us. We always look forward to the next game, but knowing the stakes, this game coming up we'll take that into consideration in our preparation. We'll make sure we get on our books, being a short week, and get right to it.
(on being called for a penalty on his hit late in the game)
That's tough, because especially looking at the replay on the big board, I clearly hit the guy with my shoulder. It wasn't near the head or neck area. It's tough on the other side, it's a bang-bang play. The refs, that's what they see, and I just wish it would've been a reviewable call, especially at that point in the game in a critical situation. So, I'm disappointed in that.
TEXANS RUNNING BACK CARLOS HYDE
(on knowing the Texans control their own destiny after today's win)
It's big for us. We got a huge win today and now if we get a win next week we put ourselves in the playoffs and in a good spot. We will enjoy this win, but then we have to regroup and get ready for Tampa.
(on his 10-yard touchdown run that answered the Titans score and put the Texans up for good)
Just being patient right there and not rushing anything. I had a similar run earlier and I went to the sideline and told myself to just be patient. I was patient right there and bounced it outside.
(on rushing for 1,000 yards in a season for the first time in career)
It's huge to go for 1K for the first time. It's been a long journey for me and to come back and have a big year like I'm having now is huge. I got to give thanks to my offensive line though, I wouldn't have 1,000 yards without those guys. Everybody has played a part in it and I am very grateful for those guys.
(on how gratifying it is to be called upon time and time again by the coaches)
I'm just doing my job. Whenever OB (Bill O'Brien) calls my number it's on me to focus in and do my job and protect the football. The offensive line did a good job today allowing me to get downhill and get behind my pads. Things worked out for us today.
TEXANS SAFETY JUSTIN REID
(on if practicing in pads all week help set the tone for the team)
Yeah it set a tone because we knew this was going to be a physical game. We are both down-hill run teams and very physical on both sides of the ball. That's how the AFC South is, it's going to be a hard-nosed football game. We knew that the tougher and more physical team would come out on top.
(on how tough a receiver A.J. Brown is)
A.J. Brown is a talented guy. He's been playing really well as a rookie, especially in the last couple games. For years to come I am excited to see his progress. He's only going to get better.
(on making the hit at the goal line and deflecting the ball to Whitney Mercilus for an interception)
When we saw the formation we lined up well. We saw that play in film, and the coaches did a great job of preparing us. I didn't want to guess it so I played my rules, but when I saw the way he (Anthony Firkser) skipped off the line of scrimmage I knew he was running a little rub route. So I was going to meet him at the point at the goal line and I knew it was either going to be him or me, and I know he's not going to score on me. I put my shoulder on the ball and ended up popping it up. The awareness by Whitney Mercilus to be there, catch the ball, and take it I don't know how many yards. It was a turning point in the game and really gave the team a lot of juice and momentum.
(on what it means to him and the team to know they can win the division next weekend)
It's what we wanted to do, but it's not the end-all, be-all either. The last couple of years the Texans have dominated the AFC South and now our goal is past that. Of course we want to clinch the division, it's the first step. We have to go out and beat Tampa and officially win the division and then get prepared to start making that run.