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Watson wows on final drive, rallies Texans in OT
8:33 PM ET
  • Sarah BarshopESPN Staff Writer

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    • Covered the Packers for ESPN Milwaukee
    • Marquette University graduate

HOUSTON — After scoring just seven points in his playoff debut a year ago, quarterback Deshaun Watson wasn’t going to let the Houston Texans falter again.

Even if it took an unbelievable play in overtime Saturday to get the win.

In the Texans’ 22-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills, Watson spun out of what looked to be a certain sack on second-and-6 to stay upright and find running back Taiwan Jones for 34 yards to set up first-and-goal at the Buffalo 10. Watson flexed both arms as the crowd at NRG Stadium went wild. On the next play, Houston won the AFC wild-card game on a 28-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn.

“I just told myself to stay up,” Watson told ESPN’s Lisa Salters about avoiding the sack. “It’s do or die right now, and all that work I put in in the offseason, I just had to make a play. Somebody had to be great — why not me?”

The Texans will next go on the road to play the No. 2-seeded Kansas City Chiefs in the divisional round.

Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins said he didn’t realize Watson made two players miss until he looked up to the video board after the play was over. Watson, who was hit as he threw, didn’t see Jones make the catch because he was falling to the ground.

“The pressure was there,” Watson said. “I just kind of braced myself and spun out of it. I knew exactly where Taiwan was going to be at.”

Watson was 4-of-5 for 107 yards when under pressure in the fourth quarter and overtime on Saturday, including that 34-yard pass to Jones, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

After Houston’s offense struggled in the first half, Watson put the Texans on his back in the second half and overtime to lead his team to its first playoff victory since he was drafted in 2017.

“He’s got a huge heart,” coach Bill O’Brien said of Watson. “He’s been winning his whole life, and he knows how to win.”

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Deshaun Watson knew that he and the Texans were in a “do-or-die” situation and credits his teammates for never giving up.

Houston trailed the Bills 16-0 with 6 minutes, 2 seconds left in the third quarter. Before the Texans’ comeback Saturday, Watson was 0-6 in his NFL career when falling behind by 16 or more points (including the playoffs), and the Texans were 0-5 when trailing at halftime in a playoff game.

In the first half, Watson completed 6 of 8 passes for 49 yards and the Texans ran 20 offensive plays, their fewest in the first half of any game (including playoffs) in the past 10 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

“We knew exactly what they were going to do in the second half,” Watson said. “All we had to do was just kind of get back in that routine and find that rhythm.”

Watson finished the game completing 20 of 25 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown. The quarterback also ran for 55 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

“All you need is a little spark with this team,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said. “You’re never out of the game when you have Deshaun Watson as your quarterback.”

On Watson’s big play in overtime, Jones credited Watson for making a great call and said he “just happened to be in the right position.”

“I just saw two people close in on him, and again, I can’t explain how he got out,” Jones said. “Again, it shows what kind of athlete [he] is. It was just, ‘Oh my god, he’s free and he’s throwing me the ball.'”

Per ESPN Stats & Information data, Watson is the only starting quarterback in the past 15 postseasons with at least a 14-point comeback victory in both college and the NFL. He led a 14-point comeback win for Clemson against Alabama in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship.

After the Texans trailed 16-0 in the third quarter Saturday, Watson was 13-of-14 for 193 yards and a touchdown, with 41 rushing yards and a touchdown.

“The game is never over,” Watson said. “Regardless if we’re down 16-0, 7-0, 28-0, I’m going to keep fighting. I’m going to keep playing. That’s just me. I play the game. … When I was in college, [Clemson coach] Dabo [Swinney] used to always tell us, regardless if we’re up or we’re down, ‘Don’t ever look at the scoreboard.’ Keep fighting and keep pushing forward.”

The Texans won despite the fact Watson was sacked seven times. According to ESPN Stats & Info research, over the past 10 seasons, including playoffs, starting quarterbacks were 1-117 when taking six or more sacks and trailing by 16 or more points in the same game. The lone win came from the Jaguars’ Blake Bortles in 2014 against the Giants.

The previous team to overcome a 16-point deficit in the playoffs at home was the Seattle Seahawks, who trailed 16-0 against the Green Bay Packers in the 2014 NFC Championship Game, per research from ESPN Stats & Information.

Before Saturday, the largest blown lead in Bills postseason history was 11 points, which happened in the 1980 divisional round against the Chargers.

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