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Former Pitt QB Tom Savage on struggling with Texans: 'I can make these plays'

| Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, 9:42 p.m.
FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2017, file photo, Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage watches before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Houston. Savage believes he can be much better than he was in a loss to the Colts on Sunday, in Houston's first game since Deshaun Watson sustained a season-ending knee injury. He'll have to be if he hopes to help the Texans snap a two-game skid when they visit the red-hot Rams on Sunday.  (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 5, 2017, file photo, Houston Texans quarterback Tom Savage watches before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Houston. Savage believes he can be much better than he was in a loss to the Colts on Sunday, in Houston's first game since Deshaun Watson sustained a season-ending knee injury. He'll have to be if he hopes to help the Texans snap a two-game skid when they visit the red-hot Rams on Sunday. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

HOUSTON — Tom Savage knows he has a lot of work to do to rebound this week against the Los Angeles Rams after what he called a “cringe-worthy” performance in his first start for the Houston Texans on Sunday since Deshaun Watson sustained a season-ending knee injury.

The Pitt product failed to move the offense for much of the day in a 20-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. The defense scored a touchdown in the first half, but Savage didn't lead the team to any points until he threw his a touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins with about six minutes remaining.

The Texans had a chance to win it on the last play, but Savage was sacked and fumbled for his third lost fumble in just 1½ games after he was benched at halftime of the opener after losing the ball twice.

“I'm my worst critic. I really am. I mean, I know you guys probably write some bad stuff,” he said referring to reporters. “But I can promise you that there's no one more hard on myself than me. And so, obviously, I just look at everything I can work on and try and get better from there.”

Savage used the term “cringe-worthy” when he was asked what it was like to watch video of the game.

“Because ... I know that I can make these plays,” he said. “That was the most frustrating part ... it was a very frustrating game for me because I was coming off the sideline like I'm seeing everything, it's not like too fast or the lights are too bright or anything. It's just the way it is. I've done it all training camp, all preseason and I've done it my whole career.”

Coach Bill O'Brien wasn't in the mood Wednesday to discuss details of what Savage has to do to improve this week, instead speaking in broad terms about what he wants him to do.

“Play loose, play free, let it rip,” he said. “Go out there, have some fun. Don't worry about anything other than making the right reads, getting us into the right play and let it rip.”

No one wanted to make excuses for his struggles Sunday, but Savage and his coaches agree he should be helped by an entire week of practice with the first team. Last week he had just one full day of practice to prepare as the starter after Watson was injured in practice Thursday.

He had a tough time early Sunday, when he completed one of his first nine passes for 10 yards on Houston's first three drives.

Savage moved the team much better in the fourth quarter, when he connected with Hopkins on a 34-yard touchdown pass before leading Houston to the 7-yard line on the next drive before the offense stalled.

“He knows the gameplan. He knows the offense,” O'Brien said. “He's very, very schooled up on how to run our offense. He's a smart guy. He's going to have a full week of practice under his belt, which I think is a big deal ... so hopefully he can go out there and play well.”

Although Savage hasn't had a good performance in either of his games this season, he believes he can turn things around and help the Texans end a two-game skid Sunday.

“I'm really confident in myself,” he said. “I really do believe that I'm a starting quarterback in this league and I do believe that I can throw the ball really well and accurate, and that's never been an issue for me.”

His confidence is helped by having a pair of receivers in Hopkins and Will Fuller who rank first and second in the NFL with eight and seven touchdown receptions, respectively.

“It just makes quarterbacks' jobs a lot easier,” Savage said. “Not many guys are blessed with two guys like that that can go up and get it and have the vertical aspect of their game and still be able to be really good route runners.”

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