A week after getting his first NFL start, Jonathan Owens got not one, but two takeaways in Week 16 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
"I was so proud of Jonathan," Head Coach David Culley said. "He stepped in for us last week. He's been getting a bunch of playing time. He's a guy that's getting better and better the more time he's gotten. And I tell you that was a big interception that he got for us at that time. It was a momentum swing change for us. I'm just so proud of him and all those guys that have stepped in and played for us.
Owens picked off QB Justin Herbert in his first career interception and then added a fumble recovery as his mother and girlfriend Simone Biles cheered him on from NRG Stadium.
"It was amazing," Owens said. "They probably didn't see, my mom was sitting right there next to her and my mom got to see me in my second start. And that I could get those two turnovers, that was just amazing. My mom, she's been with me every step of the way, and just having those two in the stands supporting me, I can't describe the feeling. I wouldn't have -- I never would have thought it would happen like this. But I'm glad it did. I'm glad it sparked our team and we got the W at the end of the day."
Owens picked off Herbert's deep pass, intended for WR Joshua Palmer, at the Houston one-yard line with 4:07 left in the second quarter. The third-year defensive back returned the ball five yards to the Texans six-yard line after ending the Chargers' possession. Seven plays later, QB Davis Mills threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to WR Chris Conley with 0:27 left in the first half. The Texans took a 17-12 lead at halftime.
"I was just kind of following Herbert's eyes and I didn't think he was going to throw it," Owens said. "When he did it surprised me undercut it and made the play. I'm glad I could provide that spark for us and we scored a touchdown right after that, right before the half. So just playing complementary football."
In the fourth quarter, Owens jumped on a loose ball after DeMarcus Walker forced a fumble on RB Justin Jackson. Owens returned the ball six yards to the Chargers 47-yard line. The Texans converted the takeaway into three more points, adding a 25-yard field goal to take a 27-15 lead with 8:57 left in the game. Owens finished the game with four tackles (one solo), one interception, one pass defensed and one fumble recovery in the Texans' 41-29 victory.
"It was amazing seeing JO come out and play," DB Justin Reid said. "This is the second game in a row that he's played a hell of a game. He's turning out to be a great player. I told him you keep being consistent like this you'll be one of the great safeties in the league. Reminds me of Ryan Clark."
Owens, undrafted out of Missouri Western State, spent the past three seasons on and off the Houston Texans practice squad but was signed to the active roster on Dec. 4. In Week 15 at Jacksonville, Owens finished with eight tackles (four solo) for the fourth-most on the team in his first NFL start.
_ Watch the Houston Texans take on the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium on January 9. Kickoff is at noon. Click here for tickets._