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Jalen Pitre joins DeMeco Ryans in rare rookie company

Jalen Pitre was busy on Sunday afternoon.

The Texans defensive back racked up a career-high 16 tackles, and also picked off a pass in his team's 27-14 loss to the Browns. The 16 tackles are the most by a rookie in franchise history. Pitre joined former Texans linebacker DeMeco Ryans as the only players in the NFL since 1991 who've notched a 15-plus tackle and 1 interception game. Ryans accomplished that feat exactly 16 years and a day ago, on December 3, 2006.

While Pitre was pleased with his personal success, he was disappointed in the outcome of the game. He and the defense didn't let the Cleveland offense into the end zone, but Pitre quickly put the onus back on himself and his side of the ball.

"We just got to make a couple more plays to eventually get that win," Pitre said. "But there are some good things that we could build on. But overall, we just got to make more plays."

PItre's pick came when the Texans held a 3-0 advantage late in the first quarter. Deshaun Watson and the Browns offense had moved the ball all the way to the Texans' 11-yard line, when Pitre plucked Watson's toss three yards deep in the end zone. He zigged and zagged his way 29 yards ahead, and gave the Texans' offense a 1st-and-10 at their own 26-yard line.

It was his third interception of the season, and Head Coach Lovie Smith thought it "has to help an awful lot" for the team's morale at the time. Smith also explained how sliding Pitre into the free safety spot has been a good move.

"It seemed like he is more comfortable back there," Smith said. "I thought he played the ball well. I thought he tackled well. It's a good game, and just have to let those young guys continue to play."

Smith added that free safety is probably "the more natural position" for Pitre.

The second-round pick for the Texans this year is the first rookie to finish a game with 15 tackles or more since Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard had 17 in an October game against the Bills. Fellow defensive back Jonathan Owens liked what he saw from Pitre.

"Man, ballin'," Owens said. "That's what he does, and that's what he's capable of. We expect that of him. That's one thing we all want to come out and do: do your job and make the plays when they're presented to you."

PItre and the Texans will travel to Arlington next weekend for a Sunday matchup with the Cowboys.

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