Tex­ans want tamer Sav­age for play­offs

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By ASSOCIATED PRESS in Hous­ton

Hous­ton quar­ter­back Tom Sav­age wasn’t great in his first ca­reer start in place of Brock Osweiler.

But Sav­age didn’t make any ma­jor mis­takes, and the Tex­ans got a 12-10 win over Cincin­nati on Satur­day night af­ter the Ben­gals blew a last­sec­ond field-goal try.

Hous­ton clinched a sec­ond straight AFC South ti­tle, but Sav­age knows he’ ll need to im­prove if the Tex­ans hope to make a run this post­sea­son.

“I think we can build, and ob­vi­ously I think it’s a good thing that we pro­tected the ball — not put the de­fense in a tough sit­u­a­tion,” Sav­age said.

“I think just go­ing out there and ex­e­cut­ing what we need pro­vides some good ex­pe­ri­ence, for sure.”

Sav­age threw for 260 yards last week to help Hous­ton rally for a 21-20 win over Jack­sonville in his first reg­u­lar-sea­son ac­tion since 2014.

Osweiler was benched that game af­ter throw­ing in­ter­cep­tions on con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions in the sec­ond quar­ter. Coach Bill O’Brien de­cided to leave Osweiler on the bench and stick with Sav­age on Satur­day, and early on it looked like a mis­take.

Sav­age com­pleted two passes for 13 yards in the first half and the Tex­ans trailed 3-0 at half­time.

The third-year pivot was much bet­ter in the sec­ond half and he fin­ished with 176 yards pass­ing to help Hous­ton win. He com­pleted 18 of 29 passes and has not turned over the ball.

Osweiler threw more in­ter­cep­tions (16) than touch­down passes (14) in his 14 starts.

“We went to no-hud­dle and he was able to get rid of the ball a lit­tle bit quicker,” O’Brien said. “The no-hud­dle helped our pace, our rhythm, and it was just a good job by the of­fen­sive staff of get­ting him into a rhythm.”

Though the Tex­ans (9-6) moved the ball bet­ter af­ter half­time, they still strug­gled in the red zone. Hous­ton had first downs in­side the 10-yard line twice in the sec­ond half and set­tled for field goals on both of those trips.

“We still are not very good in the red area; that’s go­ing to come back and bite us here if we don’t im­prove that,” O’Brien said. “We’re go­ing to keep try­ing to im­prove it.”

Though the Tex­ans have al­ready se­cured the divi­sion ti­tle, next week at Ten­nessee will be im­por­tant for Sav­age to get more ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore the play­offs open.

They’re look­ing for more this year af­ter an em­bar­rass­ing 30-0 home loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round last Jan­uary.

“We’ve got a re­silient group and it’s ex­cit­ing,” Sav­age said. “Of­fen­sively, we’ve got to just be a lit­tle bit bet­ter — make some plays, ob­vi­ously work on the red area.”

Af­ter los­ing star de­fen­sive end J.J. Watt to a sea­son-end- ing back in­jury af­ter three games, and see­ing Osweiler benched af­ter sign­ing a huge $72 mil­lion con­tract, Hous­ton cer­tainly took time to cel­e­brate over­com­ing ad­ver­sity to reach the play­offs.

But the Tex­ans also are quick to note they have big­ger goals, es­pe­cially with the Su­per Bowl tak­ing place in their sta­dium in Fe­bru­ary.

“The goal is to win it all, but this is the first step,” owner Bob McNair said. “If we don’t ac­com­plish this, we have no chance. Now it’s a new game and we’ll have a chance to go af­ter the brass ring, and that’s what we want to do.”

The Tex­ans will be look­ing to pick up that elu­sive 10th win against Ten­nessee this week af­ter go­ing 9-7 in each of O’Brien’s first two sea­sons.

The Ti­tans will be with­out quar­ter­back Mar­cus Mar­i­ota af­ter he broke his leg in a loss to the Jaguars on Satur­day that helped Hous­ton se­cure its play­off berth.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of cleanup,” left tackle Duane Brown said.

“It’s not go­ing to get eas­ier. The sea­son re­ally starts now for us. You have one more game to close it out, and af­ter that we know we have to play our best foot­ball to ad­vance.”


Hous­ton Tex­ans quar­ter­back Tom Sav­age gets set to un­load against the Cincin­nati Ben­gals at NRG Sta­dium in Hous­ton on Satur­day. The Tex­ans won 12-10.

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