S Kevin Byard

210102final

(on being back-to-back AFC South champions)

It feels excellent. It feels great. When I got drafted here in 2016, obviously previous years, we were like 2-14, 3-13, so to really be a part of that first draft class and turn this thing around, been having winning seasons ever since, watching this fan base embrace this city, embrace the team, it's definitely been great. So, definitely happy. Two-time division champs, but I'm pretty sure everybody that's going to come up here is going to echo it that we're not done yet. The season's just getting started. There's a lot more meat out there on the bone.

(on the way the team focused and took care of business)

Yeah, the entire week we were focused on what our job was and not focused on scenarios and anything like that. We understood that obviously the division was on the line and we treated it as such. Proud of the way the defense played. Guys were out there flying around, making plays, got some turnovers, got some sacks as well. Think we played really complementary football off of them turning the ball over, we got some turnovers, so it was great.

(on how the defense is peaking)

Yeah, man, I've talked about it previously – earlier in the year that we kind of know what we are as a defense. We go out there. We don't give up a lot of big plays – we had a couple today. We'll get that stuff corrected, but we don't give up big plays. Teams can't run the ball on us. We feel like we can stop anybody as far as running the ball. Guys flying out there and making plays, trying to the ball out, turnovers and things like that. We're just a confident group. Talking about the guys on the front seven, those guys are hungry and those guys are making plays every single weekend. It makes jobs easier for us on the backend, so it's been fun, for sure.

(on getting linebacker David Long Jr. back in the lineup)

We know throughout this entire year obviously when he's out, he's been our emotional leader out there. He's been out there making plays, so it's good to see him come out here today and obviously get a turnover, which was definitely clutch to end the game. Definitely happy for him, but we've got a crowded linebacker group now with (Zach) Cunningham, David Long and Rashaan (Evans), I know Coach (Vrabel) is trying to figure out how to get all of them on the field at the same time, so I'm excited to see how that thing plays out.

(on if the adversity the team has faced this year makes this win more special)

Yeah, I think our mentality – all of that outside noise saying, 'We may not be a good team,' and 'Eventually a team is going to come in' – we just handle our business. We just do what we do. The next man up mentality that we've been having this entire year where guys have been coming in, getting signed, playing the same week, guys been out here playing a lot of snaps for us. So even that record that we broke, as many players as we've had playing for our team, to still have the success that we've had is just a credit to the culture (Mike) Vrabel and Jon (Robinson) have built as far as constructing this roster.

(on how much of an edge home field advantage can be for the team)

Yeah, I wouldn't say it's an edge or not, but I think that it's good going into next week knowing that we don't have to worry about anybody. We don't have to worry about somebody losing or anything like that. We go out there and handle business in Houston, we'll have the one seed. So, it's definitely good to be in this position. Usually, last game of the year we're fighting for something anyway, so it's good to go into the last week of the season trying to fight to be this number one seed.

(on getting the lead on the defense and running the clock)

Yeah, we feel like that every single game. If the offense gets us a lead to get some points, we feel like we can play with anybody in this league. I think we've proven that, but obviously we've had to continue to do that. Obviously, the offense did a really good job of just not turning the ball over. It's been evident this year that if they don't turn the ball over, we tend to win the ball game.

(on how much Head Coach Mike Vrabel has been a catalyst to keep the team's eye on the prize)

At the end of the day, sometimes when guys are hurt, sometimes you don't even recognize it on the sideline. You kind of say, 'Hey, this guy's not playing,' or even throughout the week, every team is dealing with COVID, all the injuries we've had, guys have just been focused on their job and their job alone. I think that if we continue doing that and guys keep preaching that, we'll be good to go. I think we've just had a lot of great leadership as well from the players, from the coaches, to the entire organization. I think we're just very hungry. We were obviously disappointed how last year ended, especially on defense, and I just think that the mentality this year is just not satisfied with anything. Not satisfied with division champs. We're trying to go win a Super Bowl for this entire city.

(on how much fun it is to be a part of this defensive group)

A lot of fun. I'm just having a lot of fun being with this entire team. We just feed off of each other. Special teams, just feeding off of each other. Obviously, just being out there on defense, I was kind of joking a little bit on the sidelines. I think this is the first time in my career where I didn't end the game. It was like four times where Coach (Vrabel) took me out early, and it was kind of – I mean, it feels good because obviously that means you're winning, you're doing things the right way, so we've got to continue doing that. Coming into this clutch time, obviously we've got to finish next week strong and see who we got in the playoffs.

(on if he put on an AFC South Championship t-shirt)

The locker room was like – we'll keep that in the locker room. But it was crazy. Guys were jumping around ridiculous. People falling and all types of stuff, taking pictures. When you win the division obviously it's a great reward for all of the hard work we've put in this year, all of the adversity we've faced and you definitely see that as the locker room exploded as we came in, blasting music and stuff like that, so it was definitely fun – and I'm going to enjoy tonight as well, trust me.

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