HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) – The Houston Texans led by coordinator Romeo Crennel wasn’t supposed to have the top defense in football in 2016 after losing JJ Watt for the season back in week 3.
Yet after 16 games the Texans found themselves atop the NFL’s defensive rankings with the fewest yards per game average in football. Yet despite the successes of Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus, and a secondary anchored by up and coming star AJ Bouye and the reigning defensive player of the month Quintin Demps, the Texans found themselves still proving themselves as an elite team when they battled the Raiders on Saturday in the AFC Wild Card playoff game at NRG Stadium.
“I’ve heard things like we have the number one defense, but the Raiders have better playmakers. They do have playmakers, but we wanted to show the world that we’re just as good,” Bouye said after the Texans victory. “Even though we don’t have JJ (Watt) like I said we have plenty of other guys on our defense that are ready to make a play, and that’s what we did today.”
The Texans delivered against the Raiders, picking off Connor Cook three times and sacking him three times, including two by Mercilus and held the Raiders offense to just 203 yards of total offense in the 27-14 win.
Clowney, had perhaps his signature moment in the first half with a JJ Watt-esque tipped pass that led to his first career interception which set up Houston’s first touchdown.
“It was nice, it was athletic. It just fueled the entire team,” Mercilus praised his teammate after the win. “It added fuel to that momentum that we were having. The offense went out there, did their thing, capitalized on it and we just got rolling.”
The Clowney play fueled the Texans during the game, but some commentary made before the game may have fueled the Texan coming out of the tunnel.
Bouye, who had his pick of Cook to seal the victory for the Texans said the defense was given some extra fuel before the game by watching some pre-game coverage before arriving to the stadium.
“This is no shot at anybody- but this game is about respect, and I was watching NFL network early this morning, and I try to stay away from it, but one of the guys was saying in order for Cook to win, they’re going to have to find a way to get Cooper the ball on the Texans’ corners because he’s better than all the Texans corners,” Bouye said. ” I took that personally, and I was telling everybody in here and they took it personally because it’s time that they respect us as a team, period.”
The disrespect for the Texans may continue as they will match-up with either Tom Brady and the New England Patriots or Alex Smith and the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC divisional playoffs on the road.
“It’s OK,” Mercilus said after being asked about the doubts of the Texans playoff chances continuing into next week. “We’re just going to continue to be us, play hard like we do always, continue preparing each week and coming out here proving ourselves each week.”
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