Ryan Mallett didn't approach this Monday any differently than he'd handled all the other Mondays he'd spent in his four years in the NFL.
Houston's new quarterback, who picked up a win over the Browns in his first career start Sunday, didn't let the weekend's success change anything.
"It seems like a smart thing to do to me," he said, his East Texas drawl seeming more pronounced that usual.
Another thing that didn't change Monday was Mallett's easygoing demeanor. When he was asked about his "first game" he at first seemed annoyed.
"Well I mean, I've played football before," he deadpanned before adding, "I was just kidding."
The Texans hoped benching veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in favor of Tom Brady's former backup would give their offense a spark that had been missing as they'd lost four of their last five games. The move paid off in a 23-7 win over Cleveland, where Mallett, who entered the game having attempted just four passes in his NFL career, threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns.
"It didn't feel like my ... first start or whatever," he said. "It felt normal. It felt natural. So I'm just going to try to build on that and every day get better."
He'll need to this week if the Texans hope to compete with the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals, who are coming off a 27-10 win over New Orleans. He denied spending any time celebrating his success on Sunday, insisting his thoughts immediately shifted to the Bengals.
"Got to do it again," he said. "Can't get complacent, obviously. It's one game. We have to go continue to work."
Coach Bill O'Brien likes that attitude, of course, and while he was pleased with Mallett's work Sunday, he's looking for more this week.
"He did a solid job, but he made mistakes," O'Brien said. "There's a lot of things he and we need to clean up."
Mallett received so many well wishes following the game that he hadn't had a chance to read them all by Monday morning. He did, however, take a second to check a message sent by Brady.
"He said congratulations," Mallett said beaming.
His teammates loved the way he commanded the huddle and raved about all the little things he did right.
"He's a very confident person," left tackle Duane Brown said. "Very vocal and it shows. We mixed it up a little bit out there with some of the players and he didn't back down from it, and that's great to see. He has a great intensity about him, but is also very poised."
His big day was helped by what O'Brien called the best performance of the year from Brown and the rest of Houston's offensive line. They didn't allow a sack and their blocking helped the running game not miss a beat with rookie Alfred Blue filling in for Arian Foster, out with a groin injury.
Blue, a sixth-round pick out of LSU, set a franchise record with 36 carries and tied Houston's single-game rookie rushing mark with 156 yards rushing. When asked about Blue's performance O'Brien joked it isn't that hard to get more than 100 yards when you have that many carries. Then he got serious.
"When we drafted him, we felt like he was a smart player, a tough player," O'Brien said. "(But) I told him this morning and he knows that you're only as good as your next game."
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