Texans' Tom Savage: Improvement comes from 'mental toughness'

HOUSTON -- Even after Texans quarterback Tom Savage struggled in back-to-back games after taking over for Deshaun Watson, he insisted he had not lost confidence.

Not when the offense scored just seven points against the Indianapolis Colts, who came into that game with the 31st-ranked passing defense. And not after he turned the ball over four times in a loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

After the quarterback led the Texans to a 31-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Savage said, “It’s all about mental toughness out there.” And the reason he was able to keep that mindset even after allowing two turnovers that led to 14 points for the Cardinals was because of what he has had to go through for since taking over as the starter.

“I think the past couple of weeks have helped me out a lot,” Savage said. “I really have to block out all the noise. This game is tough, and they’re going to make some plays out there. You’re not going to get anywhere by sulking or holding your head down.

“As a quarterback, your team needs you out there to be the leader, so I am going to just go out there and keep slinging it and play confident. That’s really all I can do. I am confident in myself. I know I can do it. I think the team feeds off of that.”

Savage finished Sunday's game 22 of 32 passing for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He also lost a fumble in the second quarter after he was sacked, and two drives later, he threw an interception.

Houston coach Bill O’Brien said he thought Savage “played a very mentally tough game,” noting that after the quarterback fumbled, “He really didn’t give into that mentally.”

“I thought he came in back to the sideline and recovered and went on to play a good game,” O’Brien said.

A week ago in Los Angeles, Savage turned the ball over twice in the first half but kept the Texans in the game. He and the offense struggled the rest of that contest and were shut out in the second half.

That did not happen against the Cardinals.

“I thought Tom stayed into it,” O’Brien said Sunday. “No game in this league is perfect, and I thought he overcame some adversity during the game and it was good to see.”

At 4-6, the Texans have an uphill climb to make the playoffs -- there are five other 4-6 teams and two 5-5 teams competing for an AFC wild-card spot -- but Savage said he hopes this was a step in the right direction.

“I think we are finally hopefully going to get on a little rhythm here and let this thing snowball a little bit,” Savage said. “It was good to show everyone we can do that.”