4:25 PM ET
Sarah BarshopESPN Staff Writer
- Covered the Packers for ESPN Milwaukee
- Marquette University graduate
TAMPA, Fla. — As several Houston Texans players walked into the locker room after beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-20 on Saturday to clinch the AFC South, they began singing Queen’s “We are the Champions.”
“We are the champions, my friend. And we’ll keep on fighting to the end. We are the champions. We are the champions.”
Houston (10-5), which only needed one more win or a loss by the Tennessee Titans to win the division, forced four turnovers in the first half before taking the lead for good midway through the fourth quarter.
The Texans have won the division in four of the past five seasons and have finished with a winning record in all but one season — including at least 10 wins in back-to-back seasons — since coach Bill O’Brien took over in 2014.
“It’s a good accomplishment,” O’Brien said. “… I think it shows some level of consistency, but obviously, we’ve got a long way to go. But it was a great accomplishment.”
The Texans started the season 2-2 before winning six of eight games. After they were blown out 41-7 by the Baltimore Ravens coming off the bye in Week 11, they rebounded to beat the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots in back-to-back weeks.
After the game, several players in the locker room wore shirts celebrating the division title that read, “THE SOUTH IS NOT ENOUGH.” And while quarterback Deshaun Watson said he certainly will enjoy the win before getting back to work Monday and preparing to play the Titans, he was clear that “this is not the ultimate goal” for Houston this season.
“This is one goal to get us to where we want to go,” Watson said. “For the ultimate goal, we got our shot, we have our opportunities. So we definitely want to celebrate this and build on this one and then finish up next week and then get ready for the big show.”
Watson said he’s “fine” after spending time in the blue medical tent on the Texans sideline during the fourth quarter.
“I was just able to finish the game and deal with what I had to deal with, but I’m all good,” Watson said.
O’Brien was asked how Houston would handle the Week 17 game against the Titans if the No. 3 seed is still in reach.
“I think anytime we play, we play to win,” O’Brien said. “So that’s how I’ll answer that question.”
While winning the division was just the first step in the team’s goal for this season, veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph said he’s learned not to downplay the accomplishment of earning an AFC South title, regardless of the success Houston has had lately in the regular season.
“You definitely can’t take it for granted, because I’m sure there are a lot of other teams in our division that would like to win their division crown and be going to play for something,” Joseph said. “… It seems like every year you have [the chance] to win things like that, but I definitely don’t take it for granted, because I remember that 2-14 season.”