LONDON — Another game, another Houdini-like escape for Deshaun Watson.
Watson showed off his mobility and his ability to escape pressure again on Sunday in the Houston Texans’ 26-3 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although left tackle Laremy Tunsil was inactive after being limited in practice all week with a shoulder injury, Watson was able to escape pressure all game.
Watson was sacked only once by the Jaguars because he was able to scramble out of several close calls. In the second quarter, he escaped pressure before finding running back Carlos Hyde for a lateral pass that he threw as he was being hit by two Jaguars defenders.
The Jaguars entered the game ranked fourth in the NFL with 29 sacks, including four against Watson when the teams played in Week 2.
Watson had two completions in which he took at least five seconds from snap to throw, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. In the past two seasons, his 30 completions when taking at least five seconds from snap to throw are the most in the NFL.
It’s clear that Texans coach Bill O’Brien trusts Watson to make the right decision at the line of scrimmage, whether it’s a fourth-down play or opting to lateral a pass to Hyde while taking a big hit.
Watson completed 22 of 28 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. For the second week in a row, he didn’t turn the ball over.
Life without J.J. Watt: Despite being without Watt for the first time this season, the Texans kept Jacksonville out of the end zone. The Texans sacked Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew twice in the second half but especially excelled against Jacksonville’s running game. The Texans held Leonard Fournette to 40 yards rushing on 11 carries, and Fournette finished with fewer than 60 rushing yards for the first time since the Jaguars played in Houston in Week 2. Watt played a big part in the run defense before his injury, and this will be an important area going forward.
Minshew completed 27 of 47 passes for 309 yards. He threw two interceptions.
Buy a breakout performance: Running back Duke Johnson had his biggest game of the season, with five catches for 68 yards. He also had a rushing touchdown, his first since Week 17 of the 2017 season. Johnson’s 68 receiving yards were by far the most of the season, and he filled an important role, as Watson has several targets dealing with injuries.
Houston also got a huge game from its other running back, Hyde, who ran for 160 yards on 19 carries. He did, however, fumble the ball before getting into the end zone on a long run late in the fourth quarter, resulting in a touchback.
Promising trend: Tight end Darren Fells continues to be a reliable red zone target for Watson. Fells’ 1-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was his sixth of the season, which ties him with Owen Daniels (2012) and Joel Dreessen (2011) for the most by a tight end in franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information. This week, Watson praised Fells for not only the success he has been having in the end zone but also for the professionalism he’s shown as a veteran in a tight end room full of young players.
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