Tavierre Thomas put the exclamation point on the Texans 41-29 win over the Chargers on Sunday at NRG Stadium.
On the first play after the two-minute warning, with Houston leading Los Angeles, 34-23, QB Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense were at their own 38-yard line facing a 1st-and-10. Herbert threw to the right side for TE Justin Cook, but Thomas was there for an interception. The defensive back picked it and sprinted 48 yards untouched into the end zone. The Dominik Eberle extra point gave the Texans a 41-23 advantage and all but ended any hopes of a comeback.
"It's the best feeling in the world," Thomas said. "It's the best feeling in the world and to do it when I did it at the end of the game like that, it was special. I would have gotten down if there was a lot of people around me because I knew the game was over, but I didn't see nobody I just saw a lineman. I'm like I got to put my head down and go because if I don't score, the guy is going to be on me. So, I just ran as fast as I could."
Veteran DB Justin Reid explained how Thomas delivered on what had become a regular prediction.
"T.T.'s been saying he's going to get a pick-six every week this season," Reid said. "He finally came through and did it."
Thomas finished with eight tackles Sunday, second only on the team to LB Neville Hewitt's 11. Last week, Thomas tied LB Garret Wallow with a team-best 11 tackles in the win at Jacksonville. DB Jonathan Owens had an interception of his own against the Chargers and also recovered a fumble. Those were the 22nd, 23rd and 24th turnovers created by the Texans in 2021, and sharing in the takeaway success with Thomas was extra special for Owens.
"Amazing," Owens said. "Me and Tavierre both come from D-II schools. It's something we always talk about. Just small school guys playing in the big leagues. It's just crazy. We couldn't have written it any better."
That small-school duo accounted for all three Texans takeaways and Houston didn't turn the ball over on the day to Los Angeles. According to Head Coach David Culley, "getting the three turnovers" is part of the Texans' defensive identity when they've been successful in 2021. The score by Thomas was the defense's first touchdown of the season, and the first defensive touchdown since the Thanksgiving Day victory at Detroit last year in Week 12.
Thomas, RB Rex Burkhead, and DB Tremon Smith were the Texans team captains at the coin toss. Thomas' pick-six also meant a lot to RB Rex Burkhead, who diced the Chargers on the ground for 149 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
"A guy who I have a ton of respect for," Burkhead said. "He's a hard worker. Comes to work every single day ready to get better."
Thomas and the Texans will look to keep improving next Sunday on the road against the 49ers.
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