Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins has been a thorn in the Tennessee Titans’ side in many a meeting since the Texans drafted him in the first round of the 2013 draft.
But on Sunday, even after starting cornerback Logan Ryan went out with a concussion, the Titans had the biggest play of the game at Hopkins’ expense in their 24-13 victory.
The Texans trailed 17-13 and had just converted a fourth-and-19 play. Houston was in range for a game-winning touchdown, only to be denied with backup cornerback LeShaun Sims made an end zone interception in coverage against Hopkins on the play.
Texans quarterback Tom Savage seemed to misfire on the throw just a bit and when he did, Sims was there to take advantage with his first interception of the season.
“He’s definitely a big part of their offense. I was pretty sure they were going to go to him in crunch time,” Sims said. “I was over the top of him and saw Tom throw the ball outside and Hopkins broke inside, and I just turned and tried to make a play on the ball.”
Sims’ pick essentially sealed the win for Tennessee, which added an exclamation point on Derrick Henry’s 75-yard run in the final minute.
“LeShaun played a quarter and a half and then Logan Ryan went out,” Titans coach Mike Mularkey said. “You’ve got a tough duty when you’ve got to cover 10 (DeAndre Hopkins), and did a really outstanding job. That was a great play – I mean, as good a play as you can make on a ball that he made.”
Savage gave Sims credit for the play after the game.
“I was throwing it out there, to the outside, and the guy made a good play on the ball,” said Savage who had a career day otherwise with 365 yards passing.
Sims knew he would have to step up when called upon for regular duty after Ryan entered the concussion protocol
“Logan went out. He is one of our biggest leaders on defense, so I just stepped up and tried to make a play. I feel like it was somewhat of a bend-but-don’t-break defense, but at the end of the day, we stepped up and got the job done,” he said.
Sims’ teammates certainly noticed his performance.
“When you’ve got a guy that comes in that’s kind of cold and hasn’t played throughout the game, for him to step up and make a play, it really just shows the amount of depth amongst our team,” quarterback Marcus Mariota said. “When you have that and you can compete against each other every single day in practice, I think everyone around you gets better. No matter who gets called up, it’s going to be the next guy up and we trust that that guy can make a play.”
Added safety Kevin Byard, “He just made a helluva play and looked like a wide receiver. It was a big play…We know from training camp to OTAs, we always talk about it, how everybody in this room is going to help us win games, and for L-Dog (Sims) to be put on No. 10 (Hopkins), to have that kind of matchup with one of the best receivers in the league, he made a great play.”