HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"Whenever you go on the road. It's normally hostile environment. I thought we had a lot of fans. Before the game, they showed up, they were vocal, so it was kind of good to get that first win, not just with our football team but with them, also. It's hard winning in the NFL. I know that's kind of coach-speak a little bit, but it is, especially going on the road, division game. It's hard to beat someone nine in a row. There's a lot of things that we had at stake, but as much as anything, for us to be able to finish a game, we talked about it. We're getting better in a lot of areas. I thought the guys just play after play, defensively -- I think [the Jacksonville Jaguars] were 0 for 3 in the red zone, 0 for 3 on 4th downs, the takeaways, just playing hard. We rotated more guys. You get here, you see it's a little bit warmer than normal. That was good. Offensively we made the plays that we needed to. When you don't turn the ball over, and I thought Cam [Cameron Johnston] did some good things punting the ball, pinning them back down, and Imi (K Ka'imi Fairbairn) stepping up and kicking the kicks when we needed him to. Team effort, it's good to see what you're supposed to do after a win. Hopefully it's the first of many"
How do you describe RB Dameon Pierce's impact on this team? What was coming on your mind on that 20-yard run when he was breaking tackles.
"I'd say he's had a consistent impact on our team, from when he came into the building. We know that he's going to finish. He's going to show toughness. He's going to make plays. He's going to make you miss in the open field. He's doing what a one running back in the NFL should do, and on a day like today we needed to lean on the run, and I thought he was outstanding."
DB Derek Stingley Jr., pass breakup, also the interception in the red zone. Is that why you bring a player like that in there?
"Yeah, absolutely. Stingley is going to be a great player. I've talked about how smart he is knowing the game. He learns something every snap. I thought he competed hard. Steve Nelson did. I thought our backs, secondary did. We knew who we were playing coming in, and as you can see, we kind of leaned on one coverage a little bit more. You guys say that all you do is play cover two. Well, we played cover two quite a few times today, and we got some results from it."
What was the process and the thinking behind your decision to punt it on 4th down?
"Well, the way we had been playing defense through the day. I felt like we didn't need to make a move like that. Played the odds, which we did, and it worked out, right? I liked the call, and it worked out."
How would you describe how your defensive line played today? They didn't get any sacks, but were able to pressure the quarterback 14 times.
I think exactly what you said. First thing, how many sacks did you get? We didn't. I thought he was on the run quite a bit, and a lot of those passes that were incompletions had a little bit to do with some of the pressure. You know, it's about rush and coverage, especially today. It's tough duty for our defensive line today because we weren't blitzing a lot. So, when the offense pretty much knows it's a four-man rush, you can gang up on those four guys, but they fought hard.
You've seen a lot of football; how special was that run by RB Dameon Pierce from what you've seen?
It's fitting that he would -- when we needed a play like that, that he would be the one that showed up. We're a running football team. He's our tailback. The toughness that you want to bring, especially in a game like that -- I mean, it's late in the game. Somebody has got to make a play. There's no such thing as fatigue then. You know I can talk about Dameon quite a bit. I just believe in the guy.
It was the first win as the head coach of the Houston Texans for you. What does it mean to you with the way the guys competed?
"Well, I mean, it's big, because I do know how hard it is. We've been battling for four weeks, and haven't been able to finish it. That's all we've talked about. I know how the guys have been responding behind the scenes. They've been just, belief, faith, that eventually it's going to get done. But now that we have taken care of that, I'm just anxious to get that second win now."
When you play a game, a lot of times, guys lose games because of nerves. They had a crucial penalty where their guy swung down Davis (Mills). What do you think when that happens and extends the drive?
"Well, I'm thinking good thoughts. It is tough when those things happen, but we have rules on how we play the game, and that was obvious that should have been called. A timely penalty for us."
Stingley got his first interception. What did you see from that, and obviously took it out at the 2. What was that whole situation like?
"Well, big play. Whenever you can take the ball away in the end zone, that's huge. They have a chance. 14. Look at it, at least 10 -- for a fact you're taking away seven points probably, so that was big. That was a good play. The play that they ran was the same one that the [Los Angeles] Chargers ran on us on 4th down last week. We were ready for it this time."
The 3-and-10 with (Davis]) Mills to (Jordan) Akins. Obviously you get a guy to come up. What type of impact do you feel that particular play had on you guys? If (O.J.) Howard hadn't been able to convert, would you do it this time?
"You know, tight game in the end. Somebody has to step up and make a play. And a great play. Again, when you've been close, you need somebody at the end to do something like that. So I just know it was a huge play. He's capable of that. All we've seen from him is just good play each week. We shuffle that tight end position around a little bit, but [Brevin] Jordan can do some things like that."
RB DAMEON PIERCE
Take us through the 20-yard run. What was going through your mind?
"Go country boy, go. It's all about getting that touchdown, man. And I know I had them big boys coming defensively. They were going to rally behind me at some point, so I just tried to fight and get in the end zone."
You played in this stadium as a Gator. Did you have any memories of being back here today?
"Man, every Georgia-Florida game, it's kind of nostalgic. You think back to the days of your alma mater. Go Gators. I put out, put that on film, a little Gator talk. But like just I said, like every game, it's a surreal moment. Been dreaming about these moments since you were little, and just being in an NFL stadium alone by itself is a blessing, and I just try to take advantage of all those opportunities I have and just try to play my heart out every game."
Lovie (Smith) said that it was fitting that you were the one to get the play when they most needed it. After that run breaking those tackles, what was it that you felt in that moment?
"What I really felt, I was tired at first. We be tired at first. But after I caught my breath a little bit, man, like we just needed a surge, man. We were just looking for somebody to make a play because Nico (Collins) play the play a couple drives before. We was putting together a drive, but we wasn't quite finishing them and punishing them and playing our type of football. We got back to playing our style of football. When we're playing our style of football, we're usually a great offense when we get things rolling, and just that play, that play kinda surged everyone up, got our spirits up and led to a touchdown."
Lovie (Smith) just a second ago was talking about how not just the impact you had today but the consistent impact you've had day in and day out. What do you think has enabled you to do that for this team? Obviously being a rookie, but day in, day out, game in, game out, why do you think you've been so prepared for the moment so far?
"Because I've got a great group of guys around me on this team, from the veteran leadership to the coaches, to the support staff, training room, weight room. It takes a village, especially with me being a rookie. I'm a young guy. It takes a village to kind of groom me in the right direction. I need to be to be a key factor on this team and be an eventual leader on this team and take the roles of some of those veteran guys as they end their careers, as they move away from football. They are doing a great job of putting me in that role to enable me to be one of those leaders and step up for this team."
Did you know you were down on that play (the near-fumble close to the goalline)?
Can you just take us through the 20-yard run? At least five guys have a shot, and particularly there's somebody hanging off your back at one point. How do you run through that?
"Initially, it was a great block by A.J. Cann. To finish a play, you've got to start a play. A.J. definitely started the play for me, great block up front, right in the slop of the defense, right in the heart of the defense, I sprung out to the right. That's kind of why I flourish, getting on smaller guys, kind of like DB types, safeties and corners, guys who aren't used to tackling, and I just try to take advantage of that. Every time I get to the secondary, I always try to get some YAC (yards after contact) yards, and that's just what it was, man, just me playing ball."
When you're tied up like that, what are you even seeing? How do you know where (guys are coming at you)?
"It's all about contact, like if you feel somebody -- you just spin out. You got somebody on your leg, pull out. Somebody coming, dip your shoulder, double wrap the ball, just get YAC (yards after contact) yards, man. It takes time. It definitely comes with time. Like I wouldn't tell you to go put no pads on and try to go spin out of something, but it comes with time. But there's ways of maneuvering. There's a right way to do things. I think what it comes down to, when me and (the) DB go at it, the only thing (the) DB going to be worried about is me double-wrapping the ball, and that's what I was really focused about. And the YAC yards are going to come. As long as I've got that ball wrapped up, I'm good."
This was the first win. You guys have been close before. Does this feel like now that you've won a game, you have that off your back, that you guys can start playing more (like this)?
"I wouldn't say we are in the clear yet. This is the first of hopefully many. It's always hard to get that first one, and hopefully we just build off of this and keep playing Texans football as we know it. Like today was a wonderful showing of all three phases of the game coming together for us, special teams, offense, defense. Everybody made plays when they were supposed to. No matter what happened before, it's just play your next play, and I feel like we did a pretty good job of that. Overall, I base our win based off all 11 guys on the field playing their heart out, and I feel like we did that today, and that leads to victories, and hopefully we can continue on that."
Top five in rushing in the NFL. How does that make you feel knowing that you're in that type of category?
"Blessing. Shout out to them big boys because they always like, 'DP (referring to himself), we've got -- we're going to keep rolling.' Nico (Collins) always come, 'DP, you fitting, keep throwing that thing, baby. He ain't about to -- even when it's a down day, they always keep me up like I said before, man. It's really a village coming in, helping me as a rookie, especially as a rookie, like you don't get that out of most locker rooms. They kind of let the rookies kind of fend for themselves, but I'm blessed and grateful to be in the locker room with such camaraderie and brotherhood that those guys lift me up in the moments and they push me along, help me develop."
How much more does it mean to you to have a big game but this time around you guys won?
"Like I was saying, man, it was really about everybody making plays. That's how you write it up. This is the NFL. We try to -- we've got to let our guys shine. I feel like everybody shined today. Like I was saying earlier, I feel like everybody was playing hard-nosed football. This was a -- what it was it, top 3, top 5 run defense? So those guys, they were biting, man, it wasn't a pretty game. It was just iron sharpens iron, every play, man, they'd get their plays, we'd get our plays. It just came down to who wanted to fight more and who had the will to win, and I'm just grateful that we come out with a win. Hopefully we can build off of it."
QB DAVIS MILLS
How does it feel to get that first win today?
"Big win, obviously. It was a close game, and I felt like we did what we needed to do late in the game in the fourth quarter to finish it out and get the win. I thought all three phases played really well today. DP (Dameon Pierce) ran extremely hard behind the offensive line, who I thought blocked really well, and we didn't turn the ball over, so we did what we needed."
The Pierce run there, what was your initial reaction to seeing that run?
"He wants to win the game. I think I probably counted at least six broken tackles that run. I looked at LT (Laremy Tunsil) after the play and I was like, this guy is the real deal. He's trying to win games and he's helping us out a lot and we're moving the ball down the field behind him, and we finished that drive with points, and that's all we wanted to do."
How would you describe his (Dameon Pierce's) impact on the offense?
"Just the energy he brings day in and day out, it rubs off on everybody on the team, and we want to rally behind that, and we want to fight for him. I know the offensive line does especially, and the defense, they stayed on the sideline, see how hard we're fighting and playing out there, and they want to do the same and try to get the ball back to us so we can continue driving the ball down the field and get points."
It seemed like a lot of your plays today came out of play actions when people expected runs, runs when they might have expected passes. How do you feel you were keeping them off guard today?
"Yeah, we've just got to continue to mix it up throughout the season. If you show something one game, you've got to come back and potentially run it the next game and try to execute, and if you don't want to run that, show something else to keep the defenses guessing. I think we kind of found our identity today, being a run-first football team downhill, and we did that efficiently. And then we had to make some plays in the passing game when we needed to, and our guys stepped up and made some plays on the edge. Defense did, as well. It was a good team win."
You talked with Nico (Collins) on the sideline there. What is it like to see him make plays like that?
"It's great. We kind of felt that at the end of last year when he was stepping up and making some big-time plays, and really this year, we've really emphasized find a way to get 12 the ball because he's going to make a play for you, and he showed that today. He's going to go up and win those 50/50 balls. I don't think they're 50/50 balls when you throw it to Nico. That's big for him, and I mean, he converted those big-time 3rd downs when we needed him to."
Do you think the 3rd and 10 play to Jordan (Akins) that you saw there -- how important was that for you at this point of the season, finally getting over that hump?
"Yeah, that was huge. That was one of the plays where we go up to the line without anything truly called out of the huddle. We tried to send an indicator out with the running back to the edge. They ended up showing man, and then we ended up calling a timeout, and we ended up going back to the same play. They showed man again, but ended up falling out to a Cover 2. The way we teach that route that he ran, obviously, it's a man route where we're trying to set picks for him and have him run to the sideline away from the guy who's covering him, but they fell off into Cover 2, and we teach get width away from the defense before you start building your depth, and he did that. I gave him a chance to get the ball before the corner got to it, and he ended up converting the 1st down, and it was a huge play."
An important play in that drive I think was the same drive when (Jaguars linebacker) Travon Walker kind of beat you down. Were you surprised that that happened there at that moment? What was your reaction?
"I mean, I wasn't too surprised. Obviously didn't really have much time to react to it. They jumped offsides, and then he ended up throwing me down after the play. (He was) probably a little frustrated. We'd been running the ball well all game. I mean, it's a divisional opponent. There's always a little bit of chippiness throughout the game. I guess his temper kind of broke. That was a big play for us because it allowed us to get back ahead of the chains, got another 1st down from it. But I mean, that kind of set off that drive and allowed us to go down and score."
You mentioned finding your identity today. Five games in, you spent the offseason really trying to get together as a team. How do you describe pushing through finally and entering the bye week with this? What's the feeling?
"It's a great feeling all around. We've been close every game up to this point. We feel like we could have more wins than we do right now, but really got to find the momentum that we had when we strained and fought through the finish of this game to get the win and carry that momentum into the rest of the season. It takes a little bit, but a football team needs to find ways to win the game, and we did that today, and hopefully we can do that moving forward this year."