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AFC South champion Texans still don'€™t know what they have in Tom Savage

HOUSTON -- After the Houston Texans' 12-10 division-clinching victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday night, the players were having fun in the locker room.

When media members were let in, about 20 minutes after the game, players were still jumping around the locker room, showing off their AFC South title hats and taking pictures together, celebrating the division crown.

And though most players and head coach Bill O’Brien spoke about how much it meant to win the AFC South for a second consecutive season, quarterback Tom Savage's up-and-down play showed the Texans still aren’t sure what they have at the quarterback position.

Savage, who replaced Brock Osweiler after Osweiler threw two first-half interceptions in the Week 15 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, started off slowly Saturday night. Savage had just two completions for 13 yards in the first half and a quarterback rating of 39.6.

Savage improved as the game went on, finishing 18-of-29 for 176 yards, without a touchdown or an interception. Savage said he felt more comfortable going into the second half, in part because he realized how well Houston's defense was playing, and that he just needed to protect the ball and find a way to win.

The other change the Texans made in the second half was to go no-huddle. Savage said he thought that helped him find a groove.

“He’s a passer,” O’Brien said. “You’ve got to get him into a rhythm, and I felt like we got him into a rhythm.”

Added Savage: “The first half I was just missing some people, missing some reads here and there, and that's unacceptable. I'm going to work on it and try and build from the second half, and let's see if we can put some more points on the board.”

One area in which Savage continued to do well was securing the football: In two games, he has not turned it over. Osweiler, meanwhile, had 16 interceptions in 14 games.

“It’s a good thing that we protected the ball [and didn’t] put the defense in a tough situation,” Savage said.

Last week, O’Brien said one facet of the game he told Savage he could improve on was playing faster. After the game, O’Brien said he thought Savage was “able to get rid of the ball a little bit quicker.”

Savage was sacked four times, including three times in the first half. He said some of the hits he took were “self-inflicted” but that “it’s the least we can do as a quarterback to try and sit in there and deliver a good ball and let those guys make a play.”

Now, if O’Brien names Savage as his starter for the regular-season finale against the Tennessee Titans (the coach refused to look past Cincinnati when naming Savage the starter last week), the third-year quarterback will get another shot at game experience before the Texans host a playoff game at NRG Stadium.

"I know I sound repetitive," Savage said, "but it's going out there and keep executing what we need to do, and it's good to go out there and get some experience for sure."