Tremon Smith had quite a memorable afternoon in Jacksonville. So memorable, he was named the AFC's Special Teams Player of the Week.
Smith picked up the honors largely because of his 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. It gave the Texans a 14-3 advantage with 1:26 remaining in the first quarter, and was the first Texan to take a kickoff back to the end zone since Jacoby Jones did it in 2009.
But Smith returned a second kickoff to the Jaguars' 33-yard line in the second half, and began the third quarter by stopping Jacksonville return man Jaydon Mickens at the 14-yard line. Midway through the final period, he downed Cameron Johnston's punt at the Jacksonville 4-yard line, and Houston's defense forced a punt after a 3-and-Out.
It was a sterling effort all around by Smith, and the veteran explained why it was just a matter of time before he took one back for a score. He convinced Special Teams Coordinator Frank Ross to call a certain type of return to begin Sunday's contest, and after a touchback on the first kick, Smith rewarded Ross with 98 yards and six points on the second.
"I asked him to start off the game with it," Smith said. "And the first kick we got, they tried to kick it away, went far right. And then the second one, it was just--it was the perfect--just like practice. We practiced all week. I told the guys you're just getting in front of your guys, wall them off, do what you need to do. We'll get to the end zone. They did a great job of that."
Texans Head Coach David Culley thought it was just a matter of time before Smith broke loose for a score.
"We've been very good, and we've been a man or two away from breaking him earlier where one guy didn't quite get him up in the wedge where we needed to get him, one guy here and one guy there," Culley said. "Yesterday they got him up in that wedge and everybody had a hat on a hat."
Smith, who's averaging 29 yards per kickoff return in 2021, gave his teammates an 11-point lead, and energized them in the process.
"Man, I was so hyped up," LB Garret Wallow said. "You know, we've been talking -- we've been trying to get one to the house for weeks. So just to see it happen, just to see the smile on Coach Ross's face and Coach Baker's face and all the guys on the unit."
Smith is the first Texan to pick up the Special Teams Player of the Week award since Angelo Blackson blocked a field goal attempt and won it in Week 15 two seasons ago.
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