Already trailing by eight points after allowing an opening-drive touchdown, the San Francisco 49ers defense found itself backed up to its goal line midway through the first quarter on Saturday, just a few feet away from surrendering consecutive scores to open the 2015 preseason.
But instead of giving in, even when a penalty gave the Houston Texans offense a new set of downs, the 49ers goal-line unit – to borrow a hockey phrase – stood on its head.
San Francisco stopped Houston seven consecutive times from inside the 3-yard line to force a turnover on downs. Eric Reid, Nick Moody, Antoine Bethea, Shayne Skov, Quinton Dial, Eli Harold and Mike Purcell all recorded tackles during the sequence.
Below is how three key Texans reacted to the goal-line stand after the game.
Head coach Bill O'Brien
"Where we had seven shots from inside the 3-yard line? Not real good. That's what I'm saying. I didn't feel real good about that. I don't think the players did either. The coaches and players, we're in it together. We have seven shots — give San Francisco credit there. They stopped us. But that's an area where we have to get better.
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"We'll have to look at it. We were in some big-people groupings down there, and we were in some smaller groupings. We'll have to look at it. Again, give San Francisco credit. They stopped us there."
Running back Alfred Blue
"That goal line man, it's condensed down there. You just got to understand that you don't have enough; you don't have a lot of time. Once you see an opening, you've got to take it. So you can't hesitate, you can't rethink it. You just got to put your head in there and go get it.
"I would say it's very frustrating. It happened seven times to get in the end zone man. Goal line you've got to have it. It's one of those things, like as a runner, you know you've got to have it when you're number is called, you've got to get in there. It gets condensed down there so you don't have that much time to cut, cut and wait, you've got to hit it whatever hole they give you."
Offensive tackle Duane Brown
"As a whole I thought we did pretty good. We had over 150 yards rushing or close to it, and that's traditionally a tough defense. Their defensive coordinator (Eric Mangini) draws up a lot of different looks. We have some negative plays that we want to erase."