The Texans improved to 6-7 with Sunday's victory over the Seattle Seahawks, who dropped to 5-8 on the season.
Coach speak: After the game, Texans players discussed an impassioned speech made by head coach Gary Kubiak in a team meeting on Saturday.
"He wore his heart on his sleeve last night," safety Bernard Pollard said. "He gave it to us."
Left tackle Duane Brown called Kubiak a "players' coach" and said that the team felt like they had let him down throughout the season.
"Coach Kubiak talked to us last night, and we just had a new sense of intensity and passion," Brown said. "We have to play for everybody, play for each other, play for the whole organization. We just played with a lot of emotion."
Leading the way: The Texans' leaders on both sides of the ball came through with standout performances. Quarterback Matt Schaub had 365 passing yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Andre Johnson had 11 catches for 193 yards and two scores. Middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans tied a season-high with 12 tackles, rookie linebacker Brian Cushing had 10 tackles and a sack and defensive end Mario Williams had a season-high two sacks.
"That's what carries teams," Kubiak said. "Your leaders, your top players, they've got to take teams on their backs. They have to be the ones that make the plays to get everyone going."
That message clearly resonated with Williams, who said that he and Kubiak had a long one-on-one talk last week.
"It meant a lot, the things he said to me and the way he came at me," Williams said. "He basically told me I need to play better… I need to give a better effort – not just for myself, but for him. I think Kubiak is a great coach.
"I have to play harder to try and keep everyone intact, everybody together… Every day that you go out there now, you know you've got to give it up for the coach and for everybody else on the team."
Defensive domination: The Seahawks had 13 possessions on Sunday, not counting a two-play drive at the end of the game. On those 13 drives, the Texans' defense forced five three-and-outs, four turnovers on downs and one turnover.
The Seahawks were 1-of-14 on third down and 1-of-5 on fourth down. The Texans had 15 tackles for loss and three sacks.
"I think they've been playing well; I think they've had this team in position to win every week," Kubiak said of the defense. "I told them I thought they could be dominant. They've gotten better all year long. The job that Frank Bush has done is exceptional."
"Run for my life": Pollard, cut by the Kansas City Chiefs before the season and signed by the Texans a couple of weeks later, scored on a 70-yard interception return in the third quarter.
It was the first defensive touchdown of his career. He scored on a blocked punt with the Chiefs in 2006.
"My only thing was to cover my man," Pollard said of his interception, which came on a pass intended for fullback Justin Griffith. "I jumped it, and from that time on, I said, 'Run for my life.'
"It was definitely the best feeling I've ever had (in the NFL), because I know what has happened to me the last few months, and a lot of people don't get second chances. When it's given to you, you need to take full advantage of it, and I will continue to do that."
Schaub milestones: Schaub set several personal and franchise milestones on Sunday. He eclipsed 10,000 career passing yards with an 11-yard pass to Jacoby Jones in the second quarter.
Schaub now has 3,814 passing yards and 324 completions this season, both new franchise records. David Carr had the old marks with 3,531 yards and 302 completions.
First for Foster: In his first-career action on offense, rookie running back Arian Foster had 88 yards from scrimmage. An undrafted rookie from Tennessee, Foster had 13 carries for 34 yards and four catches for 54 yards.
Schaub said he liked the football IQ that Foster showed on the second-to-last play of the first half. Foster caught a pass, gained 15 yards up the left sideline and darted out of bounds with one second on the clock to set up a field goal attempt.
"He played a heck of a game," Schaub said. "He didn't have that deer in the headlights mentality. He came in there, he knew his assignment, did his job and he ran hard. He knew his routes and was there for me."
School spirit: As he walked off the podium after his postgame press conference at Reliant Stadium, Ryans was asked what he thought about who won the 2009 Heisman Trophy.
Running back Mark Ingram of Alabama, Ryans' alma mater, became the first Heisman winner in school history on Saturday night.
"Roll Tide," Ryans said with a smile.