After the Texans hosted the Titans at Reliant Stadium in Week 17, coaches and players from both teams answered questions from the media. The following is a transcript of their respective interviews.
HEAD COACH GARY KUBIAKOLB BRYAN BRAMANT DUANE BROWNFB JAMES CASEYNT SHAUN CODYILB BRIAN CUSHINGTE JOEL DREESSENRB ARIAN FOSTERTE GARRETT GRAHAMWR ANDRE JOHNSONFS DANIEAL MANNINGK NEIL RACKERSILB DEMECO RYANSDE ANTONIO SMITHWR KEVIN WALTERRB DERRICK WARDDE J.J. WATTQB T.J. YATES
HEAD COACH GARY KUBIAK
(on QB T.J. Yates' injury) "I have a hard time telling you exactly what happened. He's got a bruised shoulder at this moment. He's being evaluated, will be evaluated this evening. We'll get some pictures of it this evening and I'll know more tomorrow. He could have went back in the game. Obviously I didn't want him to go back in the game. We'll know better where we're at tomorrow at this point."
(on if it is QB T.J. Yates' throwing shoulder that is injured) "It is the other shoulder."
(on QB Jake Delhomme) "Well he needed to play. I planned on playing him today anyway. He was playing with a lot of different guys. I would say I played a lot of people in the second half, so he was playing with a lot of different linemen, played with a different center the whole second half, but he did some good stuff. He's played a lot of football, so he knew what he was doing. We struggled with some structure, some of the things we do offensively, which when you're to your fourth guy, you're going to probably struggle with some of those things. But he got plenty of work, so that's a good thing and if he ends up having to play next week, if something happened to T.J. (Yates) next week, then get some reps under his belt, so that's a good thing."
(on if he was just giving the inactive players rest today) "Well, there was kind of reasons for each one. OD (Owen Daniels), his knee had been drained a few times in the past week, needed to freshen his legs, no doubt about that. The other two kind of came, Arian's (Foster) knee was bothering him a little bit on Friday, but he could have played. The question I had, I wanted to play Andre (Johnson) 15 plays, so you play Andre 15 plays, Arian 15, we have somebody play in the game, some guys to play in the game. Those decisions were made more with J-Joe (Johnathan Joseph) and Arian from problems that we had in other areas, playing guys in the second half of the game, trying to suit up eight offensive linemen, trying to suit up five wide receivers."
(on why he didn't challenge the punt return where Titans WR Marc Mariani may have stepped out of bounds) "Well, the guys up in the box said they couldn't tell for sure. I think we're only talking about seven or eight yards, six, I don't know. So, to lose a timeout in that situation over six or seven yards, trying to weigh those two against each other. That's why I didn't do it."
(on if he thought about kicking the extra point at the end of the game after the false start penalty was called) "No, I didn't. you would never go for two there in any other situation, but where we were physically today, at the end of the game, I had a tight end playing Sam linebacker. For our football team, I had to get them to next week, so my mindset the whole way was to try to win the football game. Obviously, you don't want to jump offsides and try to do it from the seven, so I was disappointed."
(on if today was the first time G Thomas Austin has snapped the ball) "No, no, he's snapped. He's snapped a bunch. He had some poor ones today, but he's snapped a bunch. He's got enough work. That shouldn't happen."
(on if he still would have gone for two points at the end of the game if there was a 15-yard penalty) "I would think at some point, I probably would have kicked it."
(on OLB Bryan Braman's injury) "He's got a stinger. That was a tough one too. We wanted to play those young kids. He played one play, gets a sack, he goes out. I planned on resting Brooks (Reed). Brooks ends up having to play the whole football game and that's when I put in Garrett Graham at Sam linebacker trying to make sure I didn't lose Brooks and get to next week. There were some interesting dynamics going on. We played hard. Want to win the football game, we played hard. For the most part, we should have our first group healthy going into next week."
(on what he thought about OLB Bryan Braman's head-to-helmet hit) "I don't know. I'll have to see it."
(on if he was impressed by how the team played with so many backup players playing) "Yeah, I told them after the game, I said 'Guys, whatever disappointment you have, I got it. It's mine. You should not be disappointed.' We played extremely hard. We played with a lot of people. We wanted to win the football game. It was important. It was important to those guys that were playing in the second half. I'm proud of their effort, like I said. But now we got to move on and we've got a very, very big football game for this city and this football team and they deserve to be as healthy as they can going into it and I think for the most part, we did that."
(on what his mindset is going into the playoffs) "Need to go win a game. My mindset, I'm ready to go. Can't wait to get up there, but we still got to figure out who we're going to play. Probably just like you guys, I'll be watching a lot of football this afternoon trying to figure out what's going on."
(on who stuck out to him from the backup players that played today) "I think a lot of guys did some good stuff. It looked like, to me, (Tim) Dobbins played well. Earl (Mitchell), it looked like he played well in the game defensively. We get a big turnover there at the end of the game. I thought Derrick, Derrick played good in the game, Derrick Ward. I thought Ben (Tate) played good in the game. James Casey, we gave James a lot of opportunities to play the tight end position today and obviously he stepped up and played well. There were a lot of guys hungry out there, hungry for reps and they got them and they took advantage of them."
(on how many plays WR Andre Johnson ended up getting) "I think we played him like 18 to 20. He was somewhere right in there. But he felt good about it and he felt really good after he got going about six or seven plays. He came to me and said, 'I really felt good those last 10.' But it's time to get him to next week."
(on if he's optimistic that WR Andre Johnson will be at full strength next week) "Yeah, I don't think Andre's ready to play 70 plays, but we don't want him doing that anyway. We want him playing 45 to 50 good ones, but I think he'll be ready to do that."
(on QB T.J. Yates' first drive of the game) "Boy I tell you, he played good. He looked like a champ. He goes down the first play. Obviously, we bust down in protection right there, but boy did he play well. He got the ball out fast. He made quick decisions, made the big third down on the third-and-10. He continues to get better and like I said, he's going to have to play really big for us and I was proud of the way he started today. We looked like ourselves today starting as a football team."
(on losing three consecutive games going into the playoffs) "Yeah, that's disappointing. I disappointed in how we've played some of the last three weeks from a turnover standpoint and those type of things. We had the one turnover today. But you know what, this slate gets wiped away clean and it's time to go to work. We're one of 12 people standing. There's some players that are very, very excited about their opportunity next week and we're just looking forward to putting the work in and cutting it loose next week."
(on how it felt to get defensive coordinator Wade Phillips back) "It was good. I could feel his presence up in the booth. He called the game from the booth. We've got something we got to clean up in coverage and some of those things, but obviously it was good for the staff and everybody to have him back."
(on if the team will go full throttle now that they're in the playoffs) "We got full throttle during that marathon too. We don't do anything different. The playoffs, the intensity goes up. There's no doubt about that. That's what makes it fun. That's what you're in the business for to get your opportunity to do that. I know the city's looking forward to it. These players are really looking forward to it and after I talked to them there for a few minutes, they were very upbeat and they're going to walk out of here today ready to go. I know they're looking forward to it."
(on if he talked about today's game in the locker room or just moved on to the playoffs) "No, I did talk about it. I told them, first off, I liked the way we started the game. It looked like our football team. We started with a lot of energy. We came out fast. We stopped them once they hit the 50 and then we go right down the field, so I was excited about that. They knew, I told them that I was going to play a bunch of people on the second half of the football game, so they knew we had a lot of things going on from that standpoint. Obviously they're disappointed. You play every game to win. When I told them what I told them that 'Hey, we wipe it clean. I got your disappointment. You get your head up and let's go to tomorrow,' they understand. We've got about eight or 10 guys that they're all going to have to pull form that have played in the playoff games before. I'm sure there will be a lot of questions asked this week, but the bottom line, the tempo goes up and obviously the rewards get bigger, so we're looking forward to it."
(on if he feels different going into the playoffs for the first time as a head coach) "No, I don't feel any different. It's good to be back. It's been six years for me too since I came here and I left Denver that last year we were in the AFC Championship game. You work in this business for those opportunities and they're great opportunities. There's no tomorrow. You either get it done and you're excited and you move on to the next week or you don't. The stakes get big, but that's why we do what we do."
(on how important it was for the defense to work with defensive coordinator Wade Phillips before the playoffs) "I know it was important for him to be around all week, be a part of practice and everything. I know there is some disappointment there because we've got some coverage issues that we've got to clean up that I think we're going to go back and look at today that we're a little disappointed in. Then Wade should be feeling even stronger next week than he was this week. Make sure he goes home and gets some rest, but you know, like I said, we're back at full throttle as coaches and about as close as we can be as a football team, player-wise."
(on if he has any concerned that QB T.J. Yates might not be able to play next week) "I think there's always concerns until you get back on the practice field and get ready to go. But I had confidence that he would have went back in the game for me, so that's the best way I can answer that question for you."
(on the tackle without helmet) "I just broke the tackle I guess tried to get the head across the body and tackle with your shoulder pads. He didn't drop his head. I guess it's just instinct on how to tackle took over."
(on getting injured) "This was on the play that I got hit on the sack. Something happened with my shoulder. It was previously irritated from a block that I had made on a kickoff return."
(on teammates reaction to tackle without a helmet) "They were excited about it. They got pumped up. Not too many people continue to play after they lose their helmet. I was kind of worried what coach was going to say about how I was getting blocked."
(on status of injury) "They said that they would be able to have me back by the playoff game."
TACKLE DUANE BROWN
(on playing in the playoffs) "Every week is all or nothing. Coming out next week it's a home game and that's all you can ask for. We have to go out and give our best effort. You have to play like there is no tomorrow."
(on whether there is a problem with the intensity level of the team) "We came out in the first half with great intensity and played like the team we are capable of playing as. We know next week is all or nothing. It's the first time in the playoffs. We have a home game. Guys are going to turn it up. We know what's on the line here."
(on critics saying the team didn't try it best to win) "They might say that but we know what time it is. As of now, we are just looking forward to next week.
FULLBACK JAMES CASEY
(on game performance) "I just needed an opportunity. It is important that we took another step in the right direction and we are going to the playoffs. We are feeling good and hitting the ball well."
(on momentum going into the playoffs) "It's tough timing. It is about getting comfortable. We have had a couple good weeks of practices and a couple good weeks of games."
(on the Reliant Stadium turf after hosting a bowl game yesterday) "Right hash felt great because obviously I walked it a lot. The left hash was a little rough out there at times."
(on role with the offense) "It feels good. I've got to go do my job."
NOSE TACKLE SHAUN CODY
(on game performance) "We have guys that we can rotate a lot that we have a lot of confidence in that make a lot of plays. Everyone stayed fresh."
(on first time to the playoff) "The energy in this locker room and on the field will be electric. Guys are going to be pumped up to play."
(On Antonio Smith's Danieal Manning's playoff experience) "Antonio (Smith) and Danieal (Manning) have been there before. Working with those guys and the leadership they bring is great. They have been leaders all year."
INSIDE LINEBACKER BRIAN CUSHING
(on if getting rest for guys will help) "Yeah, yeah, sure it'll help them. You know like I said, going into next week and playing in a playoff game and playing at home with the energy and environment, guys are going to be flying around whether they are sore or not."
(on if they feel good about the way they played) "Obviously we would like to walk to away with a win, that's most important. I think that in the first quarter we really were playing how we want to. Playing with a great speed and great team intensity. We'll just try to replicate that going into next week."
(on what it means to go on to the playoffs and have these kind of games) "It's huge but now it's loser go home from here on out. We understand that. We have to come in and play the best kind of football possible and just continue to go.
(on if it's a relief to get the regular season over with) "It's a different platform that we've never played at before. We're really excited about to showcase what we're about as a team and as an organization to the city and to the fans. This is huge and from here on out this is big time football and we're excited for it."
(on his plans tonight) "I'm going to rest up and I'm going to prepare like I got a game next week because we do. I'm just excited from here on out it's going to be very excited."
(on if anyone was disappointed with the lost) "I think some guys are disappointed. I'm a little disappointed. You always want to win a football game as you walk away from it. That's something you always want to do and unfortunately we weren't able to do it, but from here on out that's all we're going to be able to do but we understand what's at stake right now so we're going to pick up our play."
(on if they will have good practices going into the week) "Obviously we need to have good practices and we have been having good practice. That's good confidence for us and that's a good sign. We'll continue to do that and stress making big plays and stress executing our defense. That's just something we'll continue to do."
QUARTERBACK JAKE DELHOMME
(on how it felt to be back on the field) "It felt good. I think you prepare and I might have gotten some snaps today certainly to get in there early. It was a work in progress, let me just put it to you that way, I felt much better. Naturally I think as the game got on and I'm still learning a great deal here. The coaches did a great job and we ran a lot of plays today - plays that I've seen on paper or have seen run in practice. I learned more in this game than I think I have in the last month and I've learned more in the last month than I have in my life as far as football and trying to catch up. Just playing the game and learning certain things felt good, especially in the second half."
(on what happened on the 2-point conversion snap) "You know what; it might have just been a little hot and high. It's disappointing and I wish we had a chance because we knew we were going for the win. That was talked about on the sideline before that drive even started, before the previous drive and before we recovered the fumble – we're going to score and we're going for two. We're going for the win. A lot of young guys played and a lot of guys that I really haven't played with a whole lot but they did a good job. Our communication, for the most part, was encouraging and certainly they had to put up with me on the communication and me learning it."
(on if he can lead the team into postseason victory as a starter based on his performance today and considering the uncertainty with T.J. Yates' injury) "I'll definitely feel a lot more comfortable going into a playoff game by having today than I would have by not having anything. I don't think there's any doubt. I truly believe T.J. (Yates) will be fine. He's a tough kid, he's a good kid and he's a good player and he did well with his limited time out there today. You just have to be ready. I've prepared every week to be ready and I know Jeff (Garcia) does the same thing. This game is important to us. We wouldn't be playing this game, I guess you could say at our 'age', if we didn't love it and didn't truly understand what it takes to be somewhat successful at some point in our career in those games. So we're going to prepare like crazy and whatever happens, happens. I'm sure we'll be ok."
(on how much of the playbook was he able to work with) "I think we worked with a good bit of it today. I think the first couple of weeks we had an emergency type situation and there were plays that I felt very comfortable with. Over the last couple of weeks, I've gotten a little more comfortable with the big picture just in case. The coaches did a great job at putting us into position to make some plays."
(on how he kept in shape prior to his signing with the team) "I did stay in shape but to say I was throwing three times a week would be an absolute lie. I stayed in shape in case I was going to go back to Cleveland and because of the whole lockout – we just didn't know. After that happened, I was in good enough shape to go somewhere in August but with some of the opportunities I had - I just wasn't ready to leave my family. I wasn't ready to leave my wife and kids and we had just moved back to Louisiana. I did stay in shape to where if something did happen to kind of float up, I would listen and certainly this kind of came about. I was in Disneyworld the week before for Thanksgiving with my family and I guess all that walking around and following Mickey got me in shape for the first week."
(on what he can tell this team on how to get into playoff mode based on his experience in the playoffs when he was with the Carolina Panthers) "I'll go back to this. Our 2003 year when we made it to the Super Bowl and played here, there wasn't many guys on that team in Carolina that had ever played in a playoff game. If you look back at us offensively, I was the quarterback and certainly hadn't played. The two receivers, Muhsin Muhammad and Steve Smith, I'm almost positive had not. Stephen Davis was our running back and I don't know if he'd played in more than one and that's how we were. When you don't know any better, to me that's a great thing. If you play well during the season and prepare well, obviously you're one of the better teams at the end of the year. So we just knew that if we just did what we did week in and week out, it would work. I think this is the thing for me that you see in this football team. This is a young, hungry football team that works and I know I haven't been here long but last week on that practice field just watching guys fly around you saw how important it is. This team is going to be ready and sometimes innocence is bliss. This team is going to play and play well."
(on his feelings on how long he played today and if it was more than he had anticipated) "I think I played a lot more than I had anticipated. I did not know how much I was going to play but I had an idea I was going to play some. It was good for me today in case something does happen down the road."
(on what he could say to his teammates on what it takes to put the last three losses behind them and head into their first playoff game) "I think we follow our head coach. The statement he gave our team after the game is that we're ready, we're ready to go. I keep bringing back old stories but in '03, we (Panthers) went on a three game skid and needed a win to clinch. Then we went on a six game winning streak and then lost in here in the Super Bowl. So I just think the mindset of this team is very, very good and I truly believe that. These guys work. It's such a pleasure and a breath of fresh air to come here this year and to watch these guys work and see how they prepare. The NFL has been absolutely wonderful to me and when I see people do things the right way; I just have so much respect for that. These guys do it the right way. The organization and everything is run right and I'm just glad to be a little piece."
TIGHT END JOEL DREESSEN
(on if he was thrown off by going for the two-point conversion) "No, not at all. I definitely expected to do that and like I said I just have to wait till the ball is hiked and it's frustrating right now."
(on looking forward) "We're ripping off the rear view mirror. The regular season is over with and the Texans are officially invited to the post season. We open up at home next week and that's our focus right now. It's a whole new season and we have to play at our best."
(on if it's hard to forget the regular season) "It does not matter. What we did in the previous 16 or 17 weeks none of it matters anymore. It's on to a new season."
(on how refreshing it is to move on to the playoffs) "It feels good. There's a lot of disappointment in this locker room right now. I feel exceptionally terrible too, but we're moving forward. We're going to let this one go, we're moving forward. It's exciting times around here and I think you're going to see some good football next week."
(on how QB Jake Delhomme was) "I thought he did an excellent job. He was very comforting in the huddle. He had some veteran aurora about him in the huddle. Just like he had that confidence about that he's been in that huddle before, I've led teams I've played good football before. That's what I mean."
(on QB Jake Delhomme being winless in Reliant Stadium) "I was hoping I could make a play for him. It would've been cool to catch a touchdown pass from four different quarterbacks in one year.
RUNNING BACK ARIAN FOSTER(on entering post season on losing streak ) "I don't know if that's the best word to describe it but now that the real season starts, this is the only season that matters. This is the first time in this franchise's history that we've done and I'm proud to be a part of it and proud to say that. We don't just want to be one and done, we got there and we're still building. We have confidence in this team and we can win this thing."
(on if the Texans are going into playoffs in a better frame of mind) "Yeah, we felt like we had control of the game early and then you start taking guys out to rest them. You kind of understand where you're at as a team, not that that's an excuse. We're going to go to work this week and we're excited. That's the thing I see, everybody is excited, this town is excited, this city is excited, and so we're going to try to show up for them."
(on the depth of the team) "It says that we have depth. It says that we have quality players all across this locker room. I think that's just a tribute to this organization and our talent scouting. We have guys that can play."
TIGHT END GARRETT GRAHAM
(on playing time) "I got in there in the first drive and got the butterflies out. I felt great. I got a few more reps during the week at practice"
(on positive from the loss) "Getting that experience helps a lot. We would have loved to come out with the win, but we are looking at the playoffs now and getting ready to go."
(on getting a catch) "I felt great. I got a catch, did a little receiving and helped out in any way I can. It felt great."
WIDE RECEIVER ANDRE JOHNSON
(on if he wanted to play more than his 15 plays ) "No, that was something we talked about before the game, so it would be somewhere between 15 and 20."
(on if he feels better about the team after today) "We went out and started fast. We had a long drive. Nobody is disappointed, of course we wanted to win the game and come out on top but there's next week. Some teams don't have next week. We have next week, the start of the playoffs and we're excited about it. We're doing everything we can to get ready for it."
(on going for the two-point conversion) "Yeah, I was totally in agreement with that. The coaches make that call and that was a call they made. I didn't have a problem with it."
(on if he got enough work today to be where he wants to be next week) "Yeah I'm ready to go. That's pretty much it. If I'm not ready not then I'm never going to be ready."
(on how it felt to be out there) "It felt good, it was a lot of fun. I was a little anxious first. I'm ready to go, I'm ready to play next week."
(on if he was normal physically) "Yeah, at first I think I started off a little slow because I would go two plays and come out for two and go in for two. Once I got in and that last drive before the end of the half, I pretty much played the whole drive and was able to get a catch and stuff like that. I kind of got in the flow of the game. Like I said, I felt fine."
(on what this last Sunday of regular season is like compared to ones in the past) "Normally in the past years I would've already packed my stuff up so that when I come in tomorrow I would just have to go upstairs and meet with the coach and then I can go home. I don't plan on packing anytime soon. We'll find out who we play tonight and we'll see what happens after that."
(on if he's anxious to play the first playoff game) "I'm not anxious. You have to go out and go through the whole week and prepare. I'm going to approach just like I approach any game. Of course the intensity level is going to be sky high, the stadium will be rocking, but I'll approach it just like I approach any game."
(on if it will be difficult to sure up the offense with the quarterback situation) "I think that Jake (Delhomme) did a good job. You hate to see T.J. (Yates) go down. At first nobody really knew what happened, but it's part of the game and I think T.J. will be ready next week. He came back out of the locker room and he felt fine. I talked to him a little bit and he said he was fine. We're all looking forward to next week."
(on how he would feel with him and QB Jake Delhomme on the field together) "I think he came in and did a great job. I was able to come in and catch a couple of passes from him. He came in and he was excited. He had everyone riled up and ready to play. He came in and brought a lot of energy into the huddle. It doesn't matter, whoever is out there, you can't determine who is out there so whoever is out there we'll be ready to go."
(on if it's a big deal going into playoffs on three game losing streak) "Of course you would like to win, like I said we would like to win. Everything else is out the window. Whatever we've done to this point doesn't really matter. The only thing that matters now is going forward. Got to keep winning now, that's the only thing that matters."
(on if there's a preference on who they play next week) "It doesn't matter. Whoever we play we have to go out there and win."
(on if it's a disadvantage coming playing a team you've already played in the playoffs) "No, it's hard to win a game in this league. No matter who you play you have to come out ready to play, whether it's a team that's 11-0 or 0-11. It really doesn't matter. Whoever it is we have to get ourselves ready to go."
FREE SAFETY DANIEAL MANNING
(on whether anything is different about next week's game) "Everything is different. You can start from the top down particularly the players. The speed is definitely going to pick up. There are definitely going to be more collisions out there. The game is going to seem like it's longer. You can't just look forward to next week because there's not a next week."
(on whether it matters to have three consecutive losses going into the playoffs) "It's not a warp zone that we are going through. We have to be able to put that behind us, move forward, and worry about the next game ahead. It's the playoffs. We can't look back now. Regular season is over with. We're in the playoffs. We've got to prepare well and give it our best shot."
(on what he will tell his inexperienced teammates going into the playoffs) "The most important thing is having fun. Don't let the ramifications of the playoffs (get to you). The media is going to be here. Fans are going to get on you. (We have to) go back to the basics that we started on day one. That's how you play when you are having fun. It's the same game. There is just a little more at stake because if we lose we aren't playing again."
KICKER NEIL RACKERS
(on if he has momentum going into playoffs) "Definitely, it's about timing and it's about getting comfortable. We've had a couple good weeks of practice and a couple good weeks of games. Now we just got to go do what we do."
(on how the 52-yard field goal felt) "It felt great. Nice smooth ball right down the middle and that's what we like to see."
(on the field conditions) "Right hash it felt great because obviously I walk to the left so you're in the new grass, but left hash it was a little rough out there at times but you just do your job."
INSIDE LINEBACKER DEMECO RYANS
(on the loss) "Unfortunately, when you come up short you always feel disappointed. What I take out of it is that we are looking forward to next week. That's our focus. That's our goal. We're not looking behind us. Right now we're excited about the opportunity that we have next week to go and play in a playoff game."
(on whether the team worried about going into the playoffs with three straight losses) "No, we aren't worried about that at all. It's a new season. This is over with. Once we start next week it's a new season. Everybody is 0-0 and we have to find a way to go 1-0."
(on the play of ILB Tim Dobbins) "He was excited. It was great for him to get in there and make a play. We were looking for a turnover all day and for Dobbins to go in lay the big hit and get the turnover put us in great position to go down and score."
DEFENSIVE END ANTONIO SMITH
(on playing time) "I was kind of wondering how the game was going to go if I was going to play the full game. I tried to make the best of each and every snap I had out there."
(on players not disappointed losing the game) "That is just a focus on what is to come. That is a point coach harped on. All we need to be focused on is what's coming and that is the playoffs. You can't take the ups and downs of the past with you into the playoffs. It is a whole new season. If you go in there thinking you are going to ride on your highs you are going to get knocked off. The same way with hanging your head, you are going to get knocked off. It is like a new season and if you don't think of it like that, you are playing finicky game. You can in there with your emotions up and down and get beat."
(on three game losing streak) "I'll tell you exactly why. In my opinion, that is all I ever speak. Before the game it was an issue. The moment the clock hit on the fourth quarter it was not an issue. That's just what life is. That is just what is coming up next. I can't worry about it anymore. I can't reach back into the past and change what just happened. I can't walk into this locker room and let anyone see me down about because that can carry on to the next week. What has to happen is we go into to practice this week we are going to have more focus than we had any other week and that is what it has to be in the playoffs, if not you aren't giving it your best. We don't have the room to go back and say we should have won that game. I know the morale is this and that. You just have to say it's gone. Try as hard as you can tonight to erase that because that is what happened. We didn't win the game. Are you going to take that with you into the future? No, you can't do that. You have to get past it and give every little ounce of anything you got each week. We are all hurting. We have injuries. We are going to need everything you can muster up each week to play in the playoffs that is just how the playoffs are."
(on playoff experience) "Be an open book. Be a leader. Anything that you see not being done right that can get you beat you have speak up. You have to grab the young ones and teach them and tell them what to expect. I think that is exactly what happened in the playoffs that I was in with Arizona. I saw every single veteran on the team become the players that they might have used to be. Throughout that year they had benched Edge (Edgerrin James). Something happened when he hit the playoffs where he was the Edge of his first 2-3 years. Every veteran was the exact same way. When the playoffs hit their focus was different. They walked around the locker room different. They made sure they did things right. I know you should do that all of the time, but through 16 weeks you can get kind of weary and it gets hard, but at that point of time whatever energy you can focus in is what they did. You seeing them do that makes you want to do that because you know how successful they have been in their careers. I think even more than that we have to speak on it as leaders and captains we have to bring a long whoever is lagging."
(on playoff matchup) "It doesn't matter. The warrior heart in me likes to face teams that have beat us for that revenge factor because that is me. That's just me and like I said that is just my opinion. If we play the defense we have like we are supposed to play it and we execute what he wants us to execute it really doesn't matter what team we play."
WIDE RECEIVER KEVIN WALTER
(on game performance) "We have a lot to look forward to I tell you what. We played hard out there today. Tennessee is a good team and we have to keep things going. We are going to come back and get ready for next week."
(on going for the two point conversion) "You have to. We were looking to win. We didn't want to go to overtime. We wanted to win the ball game. We need to move past that and look forward to next week."
(on QB Jake Delhomme) "Oh man. He stepped in right away and was firing. It was fun to see that. He came in and the guys were really excited. He made plays out there. That is why he has been playing in the league for so long. He still has it. It's pretty impressive."
(on QB TJ Yates' injury) "It's important. It hurts. I am not exactly sure what happened. He said he felt good, but we will have to wait to see the doctors tomorrow and go from there. I am definitely concerned, but he will be ready. I know that."
(on turf) "I was watching the bowl game and it looked like it was getting torn up, but being around there running around it felt pretty good."
(on home playoff game) "It is going to be unbelievable. I cannot wait. I played in a playoff game one time in my career. It is pretty special. We are going to be ready I tell you that for sure. As far as today, we came out, we had energy, but we didn't get the job done. End of the day it's wins and losses."
(on Titans playoff berth on the line) "No matter who is out there we are still going to play until the end. We had guys step up and make plays. I think that is kind of what our team did all year. The next guy steps up and makes plays. Ben (Tate) had 100 (yards) today. I thought we were pretty good. You lose so obviously you have to make corrections and things like that. That is what we are here to do is win ball games. We didn't get the job done today."
RUNNING BACK DERRICK WARD
(on if the three game losing streak is an issue ) "I don't think it's an issue. It's a new season pretty much. I've been to the playoffs a lot on some losing streaks myself, but it's a different season once you get to the playoffs. We have to go out there and have a good week of practice and get going."
(on the Houston Texans' running attack) "Ben (Tate) and Arian (Foster) are great backs. It sucks that we didn't get Ben to 1,000 yards today but he came close. Now we just go to worry about trying to get enough yards and touchdowns to help our team win next week. It sucks that we lost but it feels good to be moving on in the playoffs."
(on the decision to go for the two-point conversion) "If you feel like you can win it then it was a great call. The ball didn't bounce our way, literally. Things happen, but we'll be all right. We're going to put this in the back of our mind and get ready for whoever we play next week."
DEFENSIVE END J.J. WATT
(on ending the season with three consecutive losses) "It's tough but at the end of the day we are starting a new season now. Regular season is over and we're moving forward into the playoffs, so we are going to attack it that way. We are going to approach it with a new and fresh mindset and we are going to go out there to win the game."
(on whether he supported the decision to allow backup players to get more playing time during the loss) "We're locked in to our seed. We're in the playoffs. What we are going to do now is move forward. I feel real good. All the guys on this team feel real good. We are excited to get to work and we can't wait to get back here and play this playoff game."
(on whether there is anything positive that came from the loss) "You don't like to lose, but we are just excited to move forward, get ourselves ready for this playoff, and get into our work week."
QUARTERBACK T.J. YATES
(on his injury) "I just dinged up the shoulder a little bit. I was able to play the rest of that drive. It was just precautionary, making sure we didn't do anything further to it. I wasn't upset or anything. I was in good spirits and Jake (Delhomme) did a great job coming in."
(on whether he anticipates playing next week) "Absolutely."
(on which shoulder he hurt) "The left."
(on when he was hurt) "The first play of the game."
(on whether it was a recurrence of a previous injury) "No, it's just a new thing. It was not too big of a deal. I can see how it's been amped up to be a big deal but it's not that big of a deal."
(on whether he was in any pain on the sidelines) "It didn't hurt that bad. It was something we wanted to make sure we didn't make any worse."
(on watching the game from the sidelines) "It was a little weird because I have been doing that all season long and you go right back to doing it again. It felt a little different. Kind of felt like I was out there watching a younger guy but it was the exact opposite. It was a little bit of a weird situation but I was fine with it."
(on whether he was worried when he came out of the game) "I wasn't too worried. I was fine the rest of that drive and everything was okay. I was fine throwing the ball."
(on whether he could have come back into the game) "Yeah, that was the plan. I was going back out there just in case the jig went down I would be able to go back in."
(whether he was disappointing to come out of the game) "It was a little disappointing, yeah. We were moving well. We had a nice drive we put together for a score and I felt really comfortable out there. That was very encouraging."
(on how he feels going into the playoffs) "I feel great. This team feels great. We had a little talk after the game and I'm pretty confident this game is already out of everybody's mind. We are ready to move forward."
(on what the message was in the locker room after the game) "Put this game in the past automatically and move forward because we are all about winning next week. That's the only thing that matters right now."
(on whether he is frustrated by the mental mistakes that have been made over the last couple weeks) "It's a little frustrating. I thought we did a good job our first drive. We were very smooth. We came out very aggressively. We felt very comfortable out there. We are just going to have to keep working at cutting those mental mistakes out."
(on whether he teammates were worried about his injury) "Absolutely. At first, guys were kind of wide-eyed a little bit. I went over to everybody that was asking questions and make sure to let them know that I was okay."
(on whether he had an X-Ray) "Yes, everything is good."
(on whether he is worried the team has lost some confidence with three consecutive losses) "I'm not worried at all. If you could see the energy after we broke it down, everybody was upbeat. Everybody was very encouraged. There was some yelling and some pumping up after a loss which is very rare. It felt good for everybody to leave this building, put this game behind us, and move forward with one focus. That's to win next week."
(on rookie quarterbacks playing in the playoffs)"It's happening more and more these days. Guys are succeeding more and more and I'm very confident. I know the guys on my team are very confident moving forward. No matter what situation we have put in front of us we're going to amp it up. It's the playoffs so everything gets notched up to the next level. Everybody is ready."
(on whether he will be practicing this week) "Yes sir."
(on what he needed to work on before heading into the playoffs) "Just being comfortable out there and not forcing anything. Moving the ball and just taking what they give me. I thought I did a very good job of that my first drive. That was a very balanced drive for us which is encouraging."
(on whether he is better at making reads as a quarterback) "Yes, once you get in there and get some more game experience you get more comfortable. You kind of learn more about yourself. It's hard to do that in the film room when you don't have any experience. The best way to kind of go out there and learn things is to have them happen to you. These past couples of weeks have been great as far as me learning a whole lot more about football."
(on whether there is a teammate he will ask for advice about the playoffs) "I haven't really thought about that. I have some guys just in my quarterback room that I can pull from and talk to. We'll have some of those conversations here in this next week. Jake (Delhomme) has done it many times so I'm definitely excited to play in the playoffs in my first year."
(whether he will have an MRI) "Yes, I think so. Just precautionary to make sure everything is fine."
(on Andre Johnson playing and getting into the playoffs) "Everybody was excited to have him back. You can kind of tell when he is in the huddle. Everybody has a little more pep in their step. It's very encouraging for our offense and for me."
(on where he was as a player and where he is now going into the playoffs) "I never would have guessed this situation would be happening as far as unfortunate circumstances with the two guys in front of me going down. It was a wild experience to go through for the team and for our quarterback room especially. I'm definitely excited for the opportunity. This entire team is ready for the playoffs."
HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAKWR DONNIE AVERYCB CORTLAND FINNEGANS MICHAEL GRIFFINQB MATT HASSELBECKRB CHRIS JOHNSONWR NATE WASHINGTON
TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on coming back and winning the way they did today) "We know it was going to be different. They have had a number of injuries. They lost their quarterback; they lost an (large) amount of players. We knew they wouldn't be playing all of their players throughout the game. We knew their philosophy was a little different than ours. The game was obviously a lot more important to us than it was to them as far as what was on the table for us. We played better in areas, we obviously could have played a little better, with the turnover at the end that almost cost us the ball game. We know what a good football team they are and that if we come back here in a week it could be a totally different game."
(on what he is thinking about as far as the team's playoff chances) "We are happy. We put ourselves in the situation we are in, so if we don't get a pass it's our own fault. We had chances the last four or five weeks to better our situation to be more in control of our own destiny. Once we lost a couple games that we shouldn't have that took that out of the picture for us. The last two weeks we did what we had to do, we won two games that really that if we lost one we were definitely out. I think Houston is still in the conversation and that is the best we can hope for. So we will see what happens."
(on adjustments he had to make at the wide receiver position with Nate Washington going out and Donnie Avery coming in) "It was difficult. Chris Palmer and Dave Ragone did a good job. We suited up (Donnie) Avery for a reason. We knew we were going to throw the ball more than we ran it. I think his first catch was for a touchdown, which was a great catch by him. That was obviously big points for us. He has been put in situations where he hasn't played much, so with adjustments and things like that, we aren't always on the same page. But I think overall the fact that we lost Damian Williams, who is a big part of our offense, Matt (Hasselbeck) did a good job of adjusting and not getting frustrated when we weren't getting first downs, when we were going three and out, spot some good field positions, defense was giving us a chance to take over the game, we weren't able to do that. Credit to the Texans for that. When you kick field goals instead of touchdowns that is when it come down to the end."
(on Nate Washington's touchdown catch) "I am glad he caught it. I am glad they didn't overturn so it worked out. It was taking so long it seemed like it got knocked away and it didn't. Nate made a great catch and Nate had a great year for us and Made great catches all year, I think his first 1,000 yard season. He has been a warrior for us all year and he did the same thing again today."
(on his opinion of TJ Yates, considering he is a third string quarterback) "In their type of offense he fits nice. There is not going to be a lot of pressure on him to perform. They know what a great running game they have, what a great passing game they have and that makes it a little easier for the quarterback. Being a young gun like he is, will help him be productive in the playoffs. Coming in again when you have a defense ranked second in the league, you can rely on them a bit, it is almost like just don't make a mistake. It is almost like when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. When they won it a few years back it was the great defense, the great running game and the quarterback did a solid job, but he wasn't asked to do too much. I think if it was a different type of offense, a throwing offense, a Patriot type situation, it would be a lot harder for a rookie to come in and win but I feel they have a great shot. They had a great year and I think with weapons they have, they will be able to win with him as their quarterback."
(on Jamie Harper's run and Ahmard Hall's fumble) "It is just how the game went. Every time we had a chance to end this thing or get ahead the Texans made a play. That was a great hit on him. He carried the ball earlier and we have confidence in Ahmard carrying the football. Jamie's run was a big run because we thought that would help us run the clock out. In the worst case we would get the ball back there with seconds left and no time outs so we felt we had a great shot after he converted the counter play to the right. He had a nice run there and we thought there that one more first down ends it but if not worse case is we are given the ball back with probably 30 seconds, 20 seconds left in the game. And they made a play and that is what you want to do with four minutes. We took a huge hit there and the ball came out, and gave them a chance to win the football game. Those are the ups and downs of the League right there."
(on the pros and cons on going for two points as the Texans did) "You will have to ask (Gary) Kubiak that. Their situation was different than ours. I think if they were shooting for the playoffs they would probably kick the extra point and go into overtime. I mean I don't know, some guys have done that but that is a question more for him than me."
(on injuries) "Damien (Williams), with the rib. We couldn't run him with that. Ahmard (Hall) at the end there, and (Mike) Otto got knocked out on the first snap. Ahmard (Hall) got knocked out, and he fumbled. So we've got two guys with concussions probably, and Damien with the rib."
(on making Shaun Smith inactive) "He's hurt from last week with his knee (and) ankle, didn't practice a lot this week. Because of the type of game we thought this would be, we thought it would be better to have a healthier guy out there."
(on Jurrell Casey's performance) "He's a good football player. He's been good all year. He's been a rookie who's really committed. Jurrell does a great job in there. You can't move him. That natural leverage he has with a lack of height helps him and he's hard to move. He's been big for us and he made some big plays today."
(on the Texans' run game) "When you run the ball as well as the Texans do, a lot of things open up for you on offense. And we found that out the first time we played them, when they were at full strength. Even watching them today, they played well. They play the system well, and I know they're playing more players than they normally would play, but they're doing good stuff this year and they've had a good year."
(on Brett Kern's performance) "I think both of our kickers all season have been a huge plus for us. Last week, we broke a record with nine games of 40-yard or more field goals. He had a great percentage, directional kicking, kicking it deep. He did a great job today pinning the Texans back numerous times, and that's a great weapon to have."
WIDE RECIEVER DONNIE AVERY
(on making an impact with the Tennessee Titans) "It feels great. All I was telling myself all month was stay patient and stay with a positive attitude and that's what I did and it got me here and I'm trying to contribute. It felt great. I've been patiently waiting, finally got out there and contributed. That's what you get paid for. At first I had jitters being at home. I'm from Houston, went to college in Houston and I just had to tell myself I've been here before, been in Reliant before so I know this feeling."
(on waiting to see if they'll make the playoffs) "We have to wait. It's going to be exciting. Hopefully we can get in."
(on if he had a lot of friends and family here to watch ) "Yes, yes and my kids. That's whose outside waiting and that's who's most important."
(on if he was the first option on his touchdown catch) "It's whatever (QB) Matt (Hasselbeck) reads. He read single high and he was inside on the corner and he just threw it up and I had to make a play on it. "
CORNERBACK CORTLAND FINNEGAN
(on them waiting to see if they are going to make the playoffs) "It's like Christmas Even before Christmas. That's basically what it is. I think the Ravens are up 7-0 right now. We have ourselves a chance. We did the best we could. We ended the season at 9-7. It was a winning season for Coach Munchak."
(on if he was surprised the Texans went for two points) "Not at all. I'm definitely not surprised at the Houston Texans. I think they wanted to show that no matter who they put on the field, they want to embarrass us and beat us and we ended up winning."
(on their red zone defense) "We just let them get as many yards as possible and then we decided to bow up in the red zone. We bowed up when we needed to. I feel like in the red zone it shortens the field and what they do. We were able to stop them today. It wasn't a beautiful win, but we'll take it."
SAFETY MICHAEL GRIFFIN
(on the Texans going for two points at the end of the game instead of kicking the field goal) "They had nothing to lose. They knew they were going to be playing next week. It didn't really matter. I think what really matters is who they're going to play. They had nothing to lose. They had a home game no matter what."
(on the victory) "Our offense scored a touchdown. (Donnie) Avery came up big as well. It was a hard, tough game that went back and forth. We managed to get a win. That's all I can say."
QUARTERBACK MATT HASSELBECK
(on winning the game and now just having to wait) "We knew that was the situation that we were in. We could only do what we could do. We knew that after we lost to the Colts, which was kind of a low point for us. At that point, I think we were 7-7, and (Head Coach) Munchak came and said, 'Hey, there's a lot of things this season that could have gone better. We could have done better, but we didn't. It's in the past and there's nothing we can do about that. What we can be proud of is that we finished strong these last few games and finished 9-7. That's all that we can control.' We were hoping. We thought there were some pretty likely scenarios, but we weren't focused on that at all. We were just focused on taking care of business of the things that were in our hands, and that was finishing 9-7."
(on the status of his hand) "I took a hit and it got a little swollen during the game. It's nothing major."
(on the adjustments that had to be made during the game) "It was a physical game and both teams lost some players. We lost (WR) Damian Williams, and I didn't actually even know that he was out. There was a little bit of confusion in huddle. There were some plays that (WR) Donnie Avery didn't get to rep. Mostly our game plan was three wides, but we went to a two tight ends and two wide receivers set for a little while until we figured out who was who. I think that was important. We kind of regrouped. We've been through this before this season. In terms of Donnie, he hasn't gotten a lot of playing time, but he's played a lot of football. His strength is obviously his speed and going deep. He had a really nice touchdown catch for us on a third down and had some other opportunities deep but we just weren't able to come up with it. He made some catches, and we needed him to make plays.
(on his thoughts on the regular season) "I think every team can look back and say we would have, could have, should have done this. We're no different. Every team is going to say that, even the Green Bay Packers. It's a weird feeling right now because the season is not over for sure. We could be right back here next week. Tonight could be 'get your mind right and study the film'. Then again, there's a real possibility that it's over. So, it's a weird feeling. I don't think it has the finality feel to it right now. All in all, at the point when we were 7-7 and in the tank about playing poorly against (the Indianapolis
Colts), it was important for us to regroup. I think Coach Munchak did a nice job of splashing some water on our face and basically saying to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. We can be proud about finishing 9-7 and controlling what we can control."
(on WR Nate Washington making big plays) "He's a guy, like many guys, that has been playing through some injures. He's trying to tough it out. He came up big on the two big plays, for sure the touchdown that put us up and then the deep ball down the sideline. He wasn't wide open it was just a great catch, and he might have gotten banged up on that play also. It was a good year for him. I think he finished over a thousand yards, I believe for the first time so, I'm happy for him."
(on if he believes WR Nate Washington is the MVP of the team) "We don't vote on that stuff here. I think some teams do, but we don't."
(on what changes were made from the last meeting with the Texans to be able to produce more offensively) "Last time we really struggled running the ball. This time we didn't really try early, we just decided to throw it. Our shorter throws would be like our runs. I really don't know. I think we've grown and we're a much better team. In that game we lost (WR) Damian Williams also to a concussion. We lost some guys to injury and I think we handled it a lot better today than we did last time."
(on if their plan to throw was because they saw a weakness in the Texans defense) "No, it wasn't so much that. We've just been up and down in the first drive of the game. We really haven't done a great job on our first drive. So, on our first drive, we knew it was going to be loud, we decided to come out with a gun, silent count. It's just something I felt comfortable with."
RUNNING BACK CHRIS JOHNSON
(on how it feels to still have a chance to make the playoffs) "It's a great thing. I had a team goal to make the playoffs and hopefully make it to the Super Bowl. We haven't been in like three years so just giving ourselves something to look forward to instead of packing up and not making the playoffs and leaving Nashville. We have something to wait for."
(on if he likes the way the team is playing right now) "I can't say I like the way we're playing right now because we were playing against second-teamers and things like that and it was still tough to get the victory. I feel like this should have been a game we scored more points in and not been as hard to get the victory but any time you're playing against another NFL player they have talent too. So, you just have to execute your own plays."
(on if there were issues with the turf after the college bowl game played on Saturday) "No, there was no issue with that. I've played on this field so many times it's the same as every other time."
(on if he expects a different Texans team if they play next week) "Oh yeah, if we come back next week we're going to see the starters the whole game so if we want to beat them we've got our work cut out for us. We're going to have to make plays."
(on what makes the Houston Texans' starting defense so good) "They just run to the ball and they're very disciplined. Getting (defensive coordinator) Wade Phillips in here and running the 3-4 and things like that, it's always kind of hard to go against that defense and the kind of plays they call and the blitzes. You and the offense have to be on the same page."
(on Texans going for two to win the game) "They really didn't have anything to lose so it wasn't a hard decision."
WIDE RECEIVER NATE WASHINGTON
(on his 1,000-yard season) "It feels great. Like I said, this wasn't only for me. The coaching staff, the players in this locker room, to really believe in me the way they have, this is kind of a pat on the back for everybody. I've been working very hard this season, have been through a lot in my career, so it's has been a long time coming. I'm proud to finally be here at 1,000 (yards), and I'm looking forward to getting even better."
(on the Texans' two-point conversion attempt at the end of the game) "I'm kind of glad they did it. It was going to end one way or another. I had a feeling our defense was going to stop them anyway. This is a new Texans team that takes pride in even their backups coming in and playing hard. Doesn't matter if they have guys in there that are starting or not, you're going to have guys coming in with the attitude to play hard."
(on the Titans' season) "Definitely not the season that we wanted, you know. We had a couple of games that slipped away from us, but to have a winning season after coming off a couple seasons that didn't go so well for us, it's really paid off. We've been working very hard with the new coaching staff, and I think this is a true testament that we can only get better."
(on waiting to find out if the Titans will be in the playoffs) "It's like Christmas. You know that it's coming, but you don't know what you're going to get. We've had an up and down season. Some things didn't go our way, but we've worked through a lot of adversity. We're very proud of the things we've done, and we're looking forward to the future. We just need to make sure that we keep believing in each other going into the off season or the playoffs. This team can only get better."