In one of the wildest turn of events you will ever see on a football field, the Houston Texans emerged victorious on Saturday afternoon over the Buffalo Bills.
The game between the Houston Texans and the Buffalo Bills isn’t a game anyone will soon forget. It’s not often that a Wild Card playoff game features a quarterback making a touchdown catch on the opening drive, both teams leading rushers were their respective signal-callers, and the only touchdowns scored were by those same quarterbacks.
The final result disproved the storyline that Houston Texans Deshaun Watson falls flat in the playoffs, and he put the team on his back with an admirable performance.
Though relatively low-scoring at a 22-19 final score in overtime, the game experienced many peaks and valleys, and was a roller coaster of emotions for both squads. With less than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Houston looked deflated and out of answers.
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J.J. Watt hadn’t made a significant play in limited snaps, Watson had been sacked an egregious amount of times, and the crowd was calling for major coaching changes ahead of next season.
Then one play completely turned the game upside down. Down 13-0 with the Bills offense primed to score again deep in Houston Texans territory, that bad, bad man Watt finally made his presence felt.
Watt only made one big play all game, but it came at the perfect time as he sacked Bills quarterback Josh Allen to bring up fourth down, making them settle for another field goal.
The following drive, the Texans had a spark they had been missing for several weeks, and Watson was finally able to make use of his weapons downfield on offense. Though he finished with six catches for 90 yards, DeAndre Hopkins couldn’t get anything going for the first 2.5 quarters of this game and was held without a catch in the first half.
Without Will Fuller in the lineup, the Texans offense sputtered and was unable to create any semblance of separation from corners and safeties. Bills first-team All-Pro cornerback Tre’Davious White successfully backed up his week-long trash-talking, until Hopkins — also a first-team All-Pro — helped turn the tides of the game.
In the third quarter, Hopkins was able to secure a short pass to get the chains moving, but was quickly stripped of the ball by White. With nine minutes to go in regulation, Hopkins made a miraculous sideline snag deep downfield for a 41-yard gain, helping set up the subsequent Carlos Hyde touchdown.
The leadership of Watson in trying times like these cannot be understated, as he was able to pick up his time that was clearly reeling against an elite defense. Outside of a historically great New England Patriots defense, the vaunted Bills defense was the most ferocious the Houston Texans faced all year. By the game’s end, Watson was sacked seven times as he was facing constant pressure all game long.
Despite Watson’s prowess as a mobile quarterback, his tendency to hold on to the ball too long was as obvious as ever and played a large part in the offensive struggles. With that said, Buffalo’s secondary played lights out, neutralizing one of the league’s most effective wide receivers for the majority of a home playoff game.
On the other side of the ball, Allen had an incredible performance for the majority of the game, save for a couple of questionable miscues for the Bills.
Just as Booger McFarland touted his “poise,” he made a head-scratching lateral behind his head as he was literally being dragged down by two defenders. Keep in mind the team had no timeouts and was driving to make the eventual game-tying field goal, but that play was pretty inexcusable.
However, Allen looked dominant in the game’s opening drive and on many of his designed QB keepers. Allen ran for 92 yards on nine carries, and he caught an admittedly awesome touchdown on a “Buffalo Special.”
Bills running back Devin Singletary was all over the field, rushing for 58 yards and 4.5 yards per carry, plus adding 76 more receiving yards. The offense was suddenly shut down after Watt’s monster sack, scoring only three points after that play.
After the game was complete, there were also some noticeable keys to the game that helped lead the Texans to victory. For one, Duke Johnson is underrated not only as a necessary part of the backfield, but also as a tremendous blocker when needed.
On Watson’s grown man barreling to the right corner on a two-point conversion, Johnson blocked two defenders simultaneously and ultimately provided the difference the team needed. Johnson’s rushes were drive-builders, helping the team gain momentum, whereas Hyde seemed to run into a brick wall carry-after-carry. Hyde finished with 17 touches for 53 yards and Johnson eclipsed six touches for 78 yards.
Secondly, it is joyous that Watt back and “healthy.” Watt’s speedy recovery from a torn pectoral just 10 weeks before the game is both unbelievable and completely unwise from a medical standpoint.
However, Watt was willing to risk re-injury to lay it all out on the field for his team, and that’s why he’s one of the most respected players in the NFL. Watt may not have shown up on the box score outside of his one sack, but his presence drew attention away from Whitney Mercilus and Jacob Martin. Both pass rushers ended up with sacks, and despite Watt playing 50-60 of the overall snaps, he did everything you could have asked of him.
Thirdly, what was going on with tackling all game?
Countless amounts of Buffalo drives were allowed to continue simply because routine tackles were shrugged off, and it’s not even like they were surrendered to elite playmakers. Guys like Cole Beasley, Dawson Knox, and Duke Williams evaded would-be tacklers just like the Bills have evaded a playoff win since 1995.
Texans had newcomers Vernon Hargreaves III and Bradley Roby miss more than a few easy tackles, and it almost cost the Texans big time. Bernardrick McKinney led the team with 10 total tackles, though he struggled to get to Allen on a couple of quarterback draws.
Fourthly, Watson is the best playmaker in franchise history. That spin out of two tacklers in overtime to find Taiwan Jones and set up the game-winning kick is the stuff of legends. The play is one of the five best in Texans’ history, without question.
Finally, what were you thinking DeAndre Carter?
Carter was declared to be “giving himself up” on a play where he tossed the ball towards a ref rather than taking a knee, and a touchdown was wiped off the board. The officials had to bring in a second set of officials to consult, and the play had “C’mon Man” written all over it.
To be completely honest, if the officials followed the actual NFL rulebook and said that he was advancing the ball when he tossed it forward, it would have been a safety for illegal throwing it forward. Luckily, common sense prevailed and the Texans avoided disaster, but that’s the kind of thing that won’t cut it in the Divisional Round against the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday.
All things considered, this was a wildly entertaining game and caused record amounts of folding tables to be purchased in Houston stores. The Bills Mafia was ready to celebrate the team’s first postseason win in 25 years, but alas, the Texans live to see another day.
While the Buffalo defense was probably the best remaining in the playoffs, Kansas City is a much different beast.
The Houston Texans have defeated the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium once this season, but playoff football often brings quite different results than previous matchups would indicate. The Texans play the Chiefs on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 2:05 p.m. with a trip to the AFC Championship game one the line.