HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans have put their 0-3 start behind them, winning four straight games capped by Sunday’s victory over the Jaguars to move into first place in the AFC South.
But they won’t have much time to celebrate their recent success with the Dolphins coming to town on Thursday night.
“We got a lot to prove,” safety Tyrann Mathieu said. “Anytime you win four games in a row you set a standard for yourself. I think it’s a standard that we’ll have to live up to, especially since it’s a short week.
“Miami is a hot team, so we have big challenge coming Thursday. We have to get over this game. It was a big game and a big win, but we have to get over it quickly.”
Coach Bill O’Brien knows that most people wrote his team off after its terrible start, but he insists he never doubted that he had a good team which could turn things around.
“I knew that the team had the resolve to be able to really take the cliche of one day at a time, one play at a time, really take that to heart and make it work,” he said. “Those are clichés unless you actually make them work, and this is the type of team we have. We have a mentally tough team.”
Quarterback Deshaun Watson agreed with his coach, but was quick to point out that they still have a lot of work to do.
“We were down and out, and everybody was counting us out,” Watson said. “The thing is we have guys on this team who understand that early on it doesn’t matter. We just put our heads down and kept working and now we have to continue to do the same thing.”
Houston’s first three wins in this streak were close games, with two of them coming in overtime. But on Sunday against the Jaguars, the Texans jumped out to a 20-0 lead and came away with a 20-7 win on a day they forced three turnovers.
Another key to Houston’s win over Jacksonville was success in the red zone. After struggling in the area all season, the Texans scored a touchdown on two of their three trips inside the 20-yard line on Sunday to roll to the easy win.
Despite Watson’s solid play in the win on Sunday, the Texans faced more questions about his health after it was revealed that he made the 800-mile trip from Houston to Jacksonville by bus because they were worried about how air pressure from flying would affect his bruised lung and injured ribs.
O’Brien wouldn’t provide any more details on Monday about why he took the bus, but said that he didn’t expect his travel to be impacted by his injury in the future.
While Watson continues to grow into his position and hopefully become the franchise quarterback the Texans have long searched for, on Thursday they’ll face the player they once thought would fill that role in Brock Osweiler.
Signed before this season to be Ryan Tannehill’s backup, Osweiler will start his third straight game on Thursday night with Tannehill still out with a shoulder injury.
It will be an interesting matchup considering Osweiler’s history with the Texans. Houston signed him to a million contract before the 2016 season, but he was benched before the year was over and shipped to Cleveland before the next season.
Though he struggled during his time with the Texans, O’Brien has been impressed with his work in the past two weeks where he’s thrown for 619 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions.
“They’re doing a great job with him,” O’Brien said. “Brock’s a very talented player and he’s a having a really good year right now for them. He’s doing a real good job.”