Texans win two in a row: 'Energy coach Culley brings was necessary

Eighteen players on the reserve-COVID-19 list. 

A 3-11 record heading into Sunday with two of those wins coming against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars.

The lowest scoring offense and lowest-ranked running game in the NFL.

A rookie head coach in David Culley.

And an opponent, the Los Angeles Chargers, that entered Sunday installed as a 13-point favorite.

Nonetheless, the Texans emerged as an unlikely victor Sunday as they pulled off a 41-29 upset win at NRG Stadium.

The Texans improved to 4-11 with two games remaining, matching last season's victory total under former coach and general manager Bill O'Brien, who went 0-4 before being fired, and interim coach Romeo Crennel's 4-8 mark as his replacement.

“Coach has had a consistent message throughout the year that when we play clean football and we play good football we always have a shot to win," Texans wide receiver Chris Conley said. "Now, it's been a process of getting us to that point, but the consistency was necessary, the energy that coach Culley brings was necessary and he's really gotten us to a point where a lot of guys who haven't been here that long can come in here and buy in and we can go out and do what we did today. So, kudos to him.”

Los Angeles Chargers v Houston Texans

Photo: Getty Images

The Texans scored a season-high, their most since a 41-29 win over the Detroit Lions a year ago.

They scored 24 points in the fourth quarter, their second most in franchise history and most since the 2007 season.

And they finished with 437 yards of total offense, their second-highest total this season.

Culley praised offensive coordinator Tim Kelly, defensive coordinator Lovie Smith and special teams coordinator Frank Ross

"Did a great job on all three phases, the most complete game we've had this year," Culley said. "They put it together. I just wanted to make sure to give those guys those props because they did a great job of preparation with everything we went through this week.”

They rushed for a season-high 189 yards as running back Rex Burkhead rushed for a career-high 149 yards.

Rookie quarterback Davis Mills had two touchdown passes and zero interceptions for a 130.6 passer rating.

The defense intercepted Chargers Pro Bowl quarterback Justin Herbert twice with nickel back Tavierre Thomas returning one for a touchdown as the Texans finished with three turnovers.

Despite a challenging health situation due to a coronavirus pandemic outbreak, the Texans showed resiliency.

“We've got a motto here: 'Team, Team, Team,'" Culley said. "It's been that way from the word, 'Go.' I had guys playing today that felt like they should have been playing way before they got the time to play because of the COVID. I always said to them, 'Be carefulwhat you wish for. They got it today and those guys came in showed that they were ready to do what we needed to be done. 

"And you talk about the resolve. This team is so resilient. They've never really worried about what happens on the outside. All we've tried to do is just get better and get better. I thought today was one of those days where we probably played our most complete football game.”

The Texans haven't had a lot of strong moments. Sunday was one of them, though.

They won two games in a row for their first time heading into next week's road game against the San Francisco 49ers.

"This football team is only being concerned with what's happening in the locker room," Culley said. "We know there's a lot of noise outside of this locker room. We've tried all year long to stay away from that noise, and some of that noise is good. Some of that noise is bad. Good or bad, you've got to stay away from that and understand that the most important thing is to understand that your teammates. 

"This organization has been great from the standpoint of being able to give us what we need to do, what we need to do here. And this entire staff here has done a great job of helping us stay the course, which we've done and because of that this is what happens. And it doesn't matter who the opponent is. It's just the next game. Just like after this one, we're going to enjoy this one. I think the next one is San Francisco, we're going to go play it to try to win three in a row. Our goal was to finally get two in a row. We had three opportunities this year to be able to do that and didn't do it. Today, we got two. This coming week we want to try to get three.”

Culley missed last Thursday's practice to attend a funeral. He joked that he might not attend this week's practice as a superstitious measure.

"You know that movie, "Any Given Sunday"? It's so true in this league when you play the game the right way and this football team played the right way today," Culley said. "Our coaching staff had them ready to play and it was great. I tell you what, I wasn't here for practice on Thursday. I don't know, I might miss practice again on Thursday because they did so well without me this week, but I am just kidding.

"I'm going to be there. I'm just going to try not to do anything that whatever they did last Thursday I'll make sure they do it againthis Thursday. I'll shut my mouth in practice.”

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