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 like 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 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?”
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.
Houston trailed the Bills 16-0 with 6 minutes and 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. 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.”
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 against Alabama in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship.
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 & Info.
Before Saturday, the largest blown lead in Bills postseason history was 11 points, which happened in the 1980 divisional round against the Chargers.
The Texans will know their opponent for the divisional round by the end of Saturday. If the New England Patriots beat the Tennessee Titans at home, Houston would travel to Baltimore to play the top-seeded Ravens. If the Titans win, the Texans would play the No. 2-seeded Kansas City Chiefs on the road.
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