Texans say season's turning point came in Week 4 against Colts

HOUSTON -- All the Houston Texans needed was one win.

After starting 0-3, it didn't appear that the Texans' losing streak was going to end in Indianapolis. With 27 seconds left in overtime and the game tied at 34, Colts coach Frank Reich decided to go for it on fourth down from Indianapolis' 43-yard line. But Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph broke up a pass to Chester Rogers, and three plays later, Houston won the game on a 37-yard field goal.

"Once we got our first win, I think it was kind of a monkey off our back," defensive back Tyrann Mathieu said. "Then we just kind of settled in and do what we're capable of doing.

"At that point, being 0-3, we just needed one win. No matter how we got it, no matter if it was pretty or ugly -- which, it wasn't a pretty win -- as long as we get it. Once we got that win, I think, we kind of settled down, a little more at ease. And then we started to click."

Obviously, winning one game was a small step forward for Houston (9-3), which plays host to the Colts (6-6) at 1 p.m. ET Sunday (CBS). The Texans knew that. As coach Bill O'Brien cautioned after the game to his then-1-3 team, "You are what your record says you are, and we've got to build on it and move on."

While the players were excited to get their first win of the season, after the game, several cautioned that this was just the first step in what needed to be a run by the Texans. After all, since 1980, of the 173 teams to start a season 0-3, just five of them -- 2.8 percent -- went on to make the playoffs.

"This is the first step," defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said after the game. "Hopefully we can build off of this."

Added outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus: "Things are starting to click. Starting to play some complementary football. And so, that's where this momentum is. Now we have to carry each week."

Houston certainly has built on that win. The Texans are now the only team in NFL history to win nine games in a row after losing three games to start the season.

"We were close," Mathieu said. "I think the first three weeks, the other teams made the plays. I think the last nine weeks or so, I think we've been finding a way to make the plays, whether it's been guys on defense or the offense clicking. I think everybody is just chipping in, trying to be a part of history."

Veteran cornerback Kareem Jackson said the win in Indianapolis felt like a long time ago, perhaps because of the way the Texans' season has changed since then. Although the team is of course thrilled to be on this win streak and sit at 9-3 with a chance for a first-round bye in the playoffs, it's also clear that O'Brien's message of one game at a time and not looking past the next opponent has stuck with his team.

"I don't even think about [the streak] anymore," Joseph said. "It's almost boring to talk about because at the end of the day, it doesn't really mean anything. We have to go out and play the next game, whether we're on a win streak or we lost the week before. So it's all good for everything other than the people in this locker room because if we buy into it too much, that's when we get smacked in the face."

Heading into their Week 14 rematch with the Colts, the Texans could clinch the AFC South with a victory.

"We're going against Frank Reich, who's done an incredible job there in his first year," O'Brien said. "Andrew Luck, great quarterback. Their offensive line is playing at a high level. You look at their defense and the guys that are playing well for them on defense. They're good on special teams. Every week's a major challenge.

"Again, I'm not trying to minimize what these [Texans] have done, what these players have done, but we have to continue to try to get better and understand the challenge of the next opponent."