FOXBORO -- Patriots corner Logan Ryan was faced with a handful of cameras and microphones at his locker following his team's Divisional Round win over the Texans, and he took the opportunity to give his alma mater a little bit of free advertising.
"If you're a DB, come to Piscataway," he said, referencing the New Jersey township where Rutgers is located. "That's how we feel."
There was no better time for the mention as all three Patriots defensive backs who were once teammates at Rutgers -- Ryan, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon -- intercepted Houston quarterback Brock Osweiler to help seal a 34-16 victory and punch New England's ticket to its sixth straight AFC Championship Game.
"It was big," said Ryan, whose pick was his first-career postseason interception. "I knew once Dev would get one, I would get one, and Duron always closes it out. It was a big day for Rutgers, just like we planned. It was good to get those. Those are big this time of year."
Ryan was key for the Patriots defense throughout the game as he found himself often lined up against Texans No. 1 target DeAndre Hopkins, particularly in the slot. Playing every defensive snap as the team's No. 2 corner, Ryan finished with two pass deflections to go along with the turnover on seven targets. In all, he allowed just three catches for a combined nine yards, giving Osweiler a measly quarterback rating of 10.7 when he was targeted.
On his interception, Ryan's chemistry with McCourty was on display as the two hashed out their coverage just before the snap. It was first down, and the Texans had the ball on their own 11, ready to start a drive down, 24-16.
Both Ryan and McCourty were focused in on Hopkins. They figured there was a good chance Osweiler would turn to his go-to guy in order to spark the series.
"Devin really called the play," Ryan said. "Devin said, 'Hey, if he runs an in-cut, get underneath him.' I was fortunate to get underneath him. The ball was a little high. Devin was right there, it was tipped, and I was able to be where it was.
"We actually talked about that play before it happened which is crazy, but that's something that with film study and preparation we were able to talk about and be able to play plays. They ran exactly what we thought they would, and we were able to capitalize."
Ryan also added a sack on a blitz to continue his recent stretch of filling up box scores. He has interceptions now in three of his last four games, and he has five quarterback pressures (including two sacks) in his last six games.
There was a point in the season when Ryan's playing time was relatively inconsistent, but since losing to the Seahawks at home, he has settled into his role as someone who can be a versatile piece, moving from outside to inside and out again on a snap-to-snap basis.
With an ability to communicate the defense and instincts to jump passing lanes, Ryan has thrived with whatever he's been asked to do of late, and he's playing his best football at the optimal time.
"I feel good," he said. "I just felt confident. I felt like I played terrible last division game last year against Kansas City. I felt like it was some redemption, felt comfortable playing this offense and seeing Hopkins for years.
"I had a pretty good game the first time. I knew they were going to come after me. I just wanted to be extremely locked in and be able to capitalize. When they were throwing at me, I didn't want to let the team down."