T.J. Yates passes pregame exam, Falcons test

HOUSTON -- Houston quarterback T.J. Yates aced his pre-game exam and head coach Gary Kubiak felt the need to share that information with the team. It was a strategic move.

Kubiak didn’t want the rest of his team to use the rookie as an excuse to slow down the Texans' march to the playoffs.

Yates, a fifth-round pick from North Carolina and Pope High School, helped lead the Texans to a 17-10 victory over the Falcons in his first career NFL start.

“It was kind of ironic that my first game was playing against the Falcons, since I grew up in Atlanta,” Yates said. “I had a lot of my friends and family back home watching the game. So it was definitely fun.”

His parents, Carol and John, were on hand for the game.

“I’m probably going to do out to dinner with the family, go home and go to sleep,” Yates said.

The quarterback earned some sleep after cramming all week for the test and the game.

“We just go through all the plays and go through all the reads and all the keys we have to the game,” Yates explained. “It’s about a 20-minute cram session, a whole bunch of questions. I’ve seen [Matt] Schaub do it all season and he prepared me well for it.”

Kubiak’s message:  Let the team know the rookie, playing in just his second game, had digested the information needed to take down the Falcons.

“It definitely gave me a lot of confidence,” Yates said. “It gave the guys a lot of confidence because they knew I was prepared. He was just reassuring our team that I was ready.”

Yates completed 12 of 25 passes for 188 yards passing and a touchdown. He threw no interceptions. He had a turnover on a fumble that was controversial.

“Oh, you know, I was just trying to get out of the pocket and throw it away,” Yates said of the turnover. “I thought I heard a whistle. You know, everyone kind of stopped so I didn’t really know what happened. I was just trying to throw the ball away.”

This was one of the biggest wins in Texans’ history. Since the team entered the league in 2002, it has not made the playoffs. Yates helped Houston improve to 9-3.

Once all of the hoopla has settled down for Yates, he’ll start getting ready to pass next week’s test. The Texans play the Cincinnati Bengals.

“I’ve got to move on,” Yates said. “It was a big win for us and it was nice to do it, but we have to start worrying about next week and keep moving toward our goals as a team."

Yates hurt the Falcons with a deep throw to Andre Johnson that covered 50 yards. He was mobile in the pocket and appeared confident.

“I thought that he threw a nice deep ball down the field,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “That was an outstanding throw. It was a very poised performance. He led his team to the win today. He got his job done today and we didn’t.”

Ryan was able to catch a peek of Yates’ work.

“I thought he did a good job,” Ryan said. “When we were on the sidelines we were talking about adjustments we wanted to make. But certainly he did a good job. He didn’t turn the football over and gave them a chance to win.”

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