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Texans look to push streak to franchise-record 8 games

November 19, 2018

FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2018, file photo, Houston Texans outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett (57) celebrates his interception of an Alex Smith pass during an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, in Landover, Md. The Texans became the first team since 1925 to win seven straight games after starting 0-3 with their victory over Washington on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mark Tenally, File)

HOUSTON (AP) — The Texans became the first team since 1925 to win seven straight after starting 0-3 with a victory over Washington on Sunday.

They go for a franchise record for consecutive wins when they host AFC South rival Tennessee next Monday night. Despite their streak, they know that they have plenty more work to do to get to where they want to be.

“We’ve done a great job of digging ourselves out of a hole, but we don’t want to be known for a record that was set in 1925,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “My point is we haven’t done anything. We’ve got a very, very difficult opponent coming in here on Monday night that beat us earlier in the season. We’ve got to get back to work because in the end, what have you done?”

Houston’s 23-21 win over the Redskins on Sunday was its second straight win by two points after the team beat the Denver Broncos 19-17 on Nov. 4 before its bye week. The Texans did some good things in Sunday’s win, but also committed three turnovers to underscore O’Brien’s point they need to continue to improve if they hope to continue winning.

O’Brien likes to remind his team of the competitive balance in the NFL and how close many of Houston’s games have been this season.

“It’s been a slim margin,” he said. “I think guys have improved in their individual play, I think that we make more plays now in critical moments than we made earlier in the season, I think we’re coaching better, but I think ... our guys understand (that) if we don’t continue to work, put the time in, understand the detail of each play, the situation that we’re in, then we’re going to be back where we were.”

Houston has been able to pile up so many wins in part because so many players have made big plays. Sure, stars like J.J. Watt, Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins and Jadeveon Clowney have had their share of important plays over the last seven games. But the Texans have also gotten key contributions from their lesser knowns.

On Sunday that player was third-round pick Justin Reid, who returned an interception 101 yards for a touchdown. It was the second-longest interception return for a touchdown in Texans history and longest since a 102-yarder in 2004. The play also tied for the second-longest interception return for a touchdown by a rookie in NFL history, trailing a 103-yarder by Pete Barnum in 1926.

Watson loves that so many different players have been contributing during the streak.

“It’s top-notch,” the quarterback said. “Somebody is going to step up and make a play. It’s what got us to seven wins in a row, so it’s pretty incredible.”

Reid’s long return was the talk of the stadium on Monday.

“I haven’t been around too many pick-6s for 101 yards or whatever it was, but they’re exciting plays,” O’Brien said. “You can tell right away that it’s going to go because you can see it kind of open up and it’s coming toward you. That’s a pretty cool feeling if you’re the coach of that team.”

Along with looking for ways to limit their mistakes and improve this week, the Texans will try to give receiver Demaryius Thomas a bigger role. Sunday was the veteran’s second game with Houston after being traded from Denver on Oct. 30. Thomas had three receptions for 61 yards in his debut, but didn’t have a catch on two targets Sunday.

“He did some good things,” O’Brien said. “He ran some good routes. The ball just didn’t go his way. We’ll continue to work with him. I think he’s a great teammate, he understands, he just wants to win, but I think we need to work at really getting him more involved in the offense. No doubt about it.”

While O’Brien spent most of Monday talking about needed improvement, he did acknowledge that cleaning up little things is way easier when you’re winning.

“When you’re winning, you’re able to stand up in front of your team, put the film on and say: ‘Look, this is good, but this still is not very good, and if it doesn’t get better, it’s not going to be very good on Monday night,’” O’Brien said. “So, I think that that’s a big thing, and they’ll look at the tape ... and they’ll say: ‘Yep, we do need to improve on that. We can’t do that again.’”

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