Tom Savage 'gets going' to beat Cards, keep playoff hopes alive

HOUSTON -- On Thursday afternoon, Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien was clear: He needed to see more progress from starting quarterback Tom Savage.

“He hasn’t had a ton of experience, but it’s time. It’s time. Time to get going,” O’Brien said.

Savage said he didn’t feel pressure from O’Brien’s comments but was even more motivated heading into the Texans’ Week 11 game against the Arizona Cardinals.

And for at least one game, Savage found that success, leading the Texans to a 31-21 victory on Sunday and ending Houston’s three-game losing streak. He finished the game 22-of-32 for 230 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the first two-touchdown game of his career. Although it will be an uphill fight to make the playoffs, Savage gave the Texans a chance to stay in the race at 4-6.

"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."

After the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Cleveland Browns to go to 7-3, the Texans remained three games back in the division. They will have a hard time winning their third straight AFC South title, but they are fighting for a chance at the second AFC wild-card spot.

In Sunday’s victory, Savage continued to lean on wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown going against the Cardinals’ top cornerback, Patrick Peterson. Hopkins was targeted a team-high nine times and leads the league with nine touchdown catches this season. After the game, Savage called Hopkins "the best receiver in the league."

"[Hopkins is] our go-to guy," O'Brien said. "That's obvious, and I thought a couple of those catches that were not catches were close. People really focus on him."

The Texans' defense showed improvement, as two of Cardinals quarterback Blaine Gabbert's touchdown passes came on short fields in the second quarter: one drive that started at the Houston 15 after Savage was strip-sacked, and another, two drives later, that started at the Houston 17 after Savage's lone interception. The unit -- which entered the game ranked seventh in rushing yards allowed per game -- held the Cardinals to 48 yards on 18 carries.

The defense helped close the game, first with a big fourth-down stop with 6:19 remaining, then with interceptions of Gabbert's passes on the next two Cardinals possessions.

The Texans' next game is against the 5-5 Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football, which will give the team a clear picture of where it stands in the AFC playoff picture.

"There's no such thing as an easy win [in the NFL.] Got to come out and keep fighting. Got six games left," Hopkins said. "We feel like we know we've got a good team. We know things we can do even with the losses that we've have so far, but this win can definitely help us."