HOUSTON – Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien has taken home quite a bit of hardware during his coaching career, but he experienced a first following Sunday night’s stunning win over the New England Patriots.
The team, specifically quarterback Deshaun Watson, presented the head coach with the game ball after the team’s signature win of the season for knocking off the AFC perennial power and defending Super Bowl champs for the first time in his career and for just the second time in franchise history.
The Patriots entered Sunday night with just one loss and had possession of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs as the AFC’s top team. But that all changed following the Texans 28-22 win, which was really that close.
While showing great appreciation to his team for the gesture, O’Brien also did his best to deflect the attention away from himself during Monday morning’s press conference.
“I appreciate getting the game ball, but I really believe the players deserve the game balls, the guys that were out there making the plays,” O’Brien said.
He has the 8-4 Texans in control of their destiny to repeat as the AFC South champs and for the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoff race and the guarantee of a home game in the first round of next month’s playoffs.
“I thought the players played tough. It wasn’t always perfect. We played a really great football team and they were resilient, they stuck with it and we were able to win the game. So, I think the players deserve the credit," O’Brien said.
Watson said the decision to give O’Brien the game ball was made because he knew what it meant to his coach to finally get over the hump against the organization he once for and against his former boss, Bill Belichick. O’Brien was an assistant under Belichick from 2007-2011 before taking the head coaching job at Penn State.
“It was big for both of us. We work together all the time,” said Watson, who also was victorious against the Patriots for the first time. “We had two tries since I’ve been here where we came up short. Just being the quarterback of the team, it really came from everyone, but for me to present that, I bet it means a lot to him and to us as an organization. It was awesome.”
Watson said he could tell O’Brien was caught off guard when presented with the game ball and even hinted that some tears may have fallen from the normally stoic coach.
“He was excited,” Watson said. “We all kind of jumped around. Probably teared up or cried in the back.”
O’Brien strongly denied dropping a tear in front of his team or behind closed doors, but he does admit it was a special moment.
“No, I just think that -- any time we win, we give out game balls, and I think that the players deserved a game ball,” O’Brien said. “I appreciate it and I appreciate that the team and Deshaun did that, but the players made the plays. They did a good job last night.”