Texans’ Tavierre Thomas could not pass up opportunity to score pick-six against the Chargers

HOUSTON — With 1:49 left in the fourth quarter, cornerback Tavierre Thomas recorded his second interception of the season by picking off quarterback Justin Herbert’s pass attempt. Thomas’ late-game interception capsulated the fourth victory of the season for the Houston Texans, who held a 34-23 lead at the time.

But instead of taking a knee for Houston’s offense to run the clock out, Thomas took one to the house by recording a 48-yard pick-six en route to the Texans’ 41-29 victory over the Chargers on Sunday.

Thomas said after the play, he told coach David Culley that he would have gone down, but no defender was in front of him but one of the Chargers’ offensive linemen. Thomas knew he had the advantage with his speed and felt the need to score. It was Thomas’ first pick-six since his college days at Ferris State University.

“It’s the best feeling in the world and to do it when I did it at the end of the game like that — it was special,” Thomas said. “I would have gotten down if there were a lot of people around me because I knew the game was over, but I didn’t see nobody but a lineman. I’m like I got to put my head down and go because if I don’t score, the guy is going to be on me. So, I just ran as fast as I could.”

Thomas continued: “It’s surreal. It’s crazy. I keep looking at it. Sometimes it comes to me like people keep telling me about it, and then I look at my phone and someone mentioned me or something. It’s crazy.”

Thomas’ pick-six wasn’t just a career-defining moment for himself, but also for defensive coordinator Lovie Smith. As one of the most prominent defensive coaches of his generation, Thomas’ touchdown continued Smith’s streak of 13 consecutive years of scoring a defensive touchdown as an NFL coach or coordinator.

“T.T. [Thomas] has been saying he’s going to get a pick-six every week this season, so he finally came through and did it,” Justin Reid said after the Texans’ Week 16 victory over the Chargers. “That’s amazing that T.T. got that and that our defense was able to produce like that.”

With two interceptions and one forced fumble in the win against the Chargers, the Texans are tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the seventh most takeaways of the 2021 campaign with 24 on the season.