As Rex Burkhead was walking off the field after his career day against the Los Angeles Chargers, a staffer came up to him and handed him a football. Burkhead was told that QB Davis Mills wanted him to have the game ball.
Burkhead had rushed for a career-high 149 yards on 22 attempts, averaging 6.8 yards per carry and two touchdowns in the Houston Texans' 41-29 win on Sunday.
Asked about it in his post-game press conference, Burkhead still wasn't sure – despite his impressive performance -why Mills wanted to give him the ball, but a few days later, Burkhead approached the rookie quarterback about it and found out why.
"So I end up talking to him about it, and he's like, 'Yeah, man, you played your tail off. Just wanted to give you the game ball,'" Burkhead said. "So, it's pretty cool, special by him and also to have that maturity level that as a rookie as well, just to seeing the big picture the whole game. It was a nice compliment from him. He played a great game, led us down the field multiple times and made some unbelievable throws."
In both of Mills' career NFL wins, Burkhead has led the team in rushing yards. In a season where the running game has struggled to gain ground, the Texans posted 189 net yards rushing, the team's highest total since Week 9 of the 2019 season against Jacksonville.
Mills wasn't the only one to recognize Burkhead's big day in Week 16. On Wednesday, the NFL announced that the nine-year veteran back was voted FedEx Ground Player of the Week by fans.
"That's something we took as a challenge kind of all year, really getting a game where we establish that run game early on, being physical not only in the first quarter but all four quarters. and the offensive line did that," Burkhead said. "Not only them, the receivers out wide blocking, the tight ends also all game long, doing it from the get-go and making my job easy, reading the holes and finding them."
Burkhead scored on a 25-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to give the Texans a 7-0 lead and then ran for a one-yard score to extend Houston's lead to 24-15. He also recorded a 36-yard run in the fourth quarter, marking the longest rush of his career.
The Texans will travel to San Francisco for their final road game of the 2021 season. Sunday's kickoff from Levi's Stadium is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on CBS and SportsRadio 610.
Watch the Houston Texans take on the Tennessee Titans for the season finale at NRG Stadium on January 9. Kickoff is at noon. Click here for tickets.
Check out the best photos from the Houston Texans Week 16 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers.