The Legend Of Watson Grows, Leads Comeback Over Bills

"That was just a crazy ass play" - Zach Cunningham

Shaun Bijani
January 04, 2020 - 10:29 pm

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) -- He's routinely been called a magician by play-by-play announcers. 

Sports reporters and other media types often refer to Deshaun Watson as Houdini for his uncanny ability to escape certain sacks and tackles for loss on a weekly basis.

He's also been compared to basketball legend Michael Jordan. 

Most will never forget that controversial claim from Dabo Swinney, his former college head coach at Clemson, ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft.

"And I’m just telling you, they pass on Deshaun Watson, they’re passing on Michael Jordan. I mean, I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, I’m just an old funky college coach, but Deshaun Watson is the best, by a long shot.”

Three years into his NFL career, playing in the postseason for the second straight season, call him whatever you want.

Just don't call him out of it. 

Saturday evening held a number of special moments that sports fans will remember in the city for a long time.

And Deshaun Watson, sparked by an electric, game-changing play by teammate J.J. Watt helped the Texans to a 22-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills in a first round AFC playoff matchup. 

Related: Texans Advance To Divisional Round In Overtime Against Bills

Plenty has been made of those comments by Dabo Swinney since January 2017, and while comparisons are always met with criticism and debate, Watson's play Saturday evening just magnified the type of player Swinney knew the NFL was getting ahead of the 2017 draft. 

"I just meant he's a winner and a killer like Michael Jordan. I didn't mean he's Michael Jordan. I mean, he's got a will to win that is rare," Swinney said. "And you only see that every now and then. And when I think of that, I think of Jordan, who would claw your eyeballs out to win. He's just a winner and that's what Deshaun is... I had to call Deshaun and say hey man sorry I put you in this position."

Deshaun doesn't seem to mind. He seems to thrive on what you and I would call pressure and treats it as opportunity. 

That killer instinct that was on display Saturday evening at NRG was the "buzz" that Watt spoke back into existence earlier in the week, when he said he wanted to help recreate after experiencing an energy like no other in 2011 with the Texans first playoff win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

That killer instinct is what Deshaun Watson had shown numerous times before in a Texans uniform already in his 10 game-winning drives and eight fourth quarter comebacks he's had in just 38 regular season games as a Texan. 

That killer instinct was on display Saturday and it's going to be one of those games you won't soon forget as the fourth-seeded Texans advanced to an AFC semifinal next weekend at Kansas City.

Winning the game on their second possession of overtime, getting a huge first down on a third-and-18 play after a Duke Johnson catch and run, setting up the miraculous Watson play as he escaped a certain sack to throw a 34-yard completion to running back Taiwan Jones, capping a nine-play, 73-yard drive that set up the winning 28-yard kick from Ka'imi Fairbairn.

Watson completed 20-of-25 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown, while rushing it 14 times for 55 yards and another score. 

"This is what the NFL is about, especially the playoffs. Definitely we're going to keep fighting, and that's what we did," Watson said after the game. 

Watson's teammates were beside themselves in the locker room following the game, not knowing how to put into words what they witnessed. 

Linebacker Zach Cunningham said the resilience the team showed Saturday is apart of the culture that has been in the locker room for a while.

"That's something that's been here even before I was here. That's just how our team is," Cunningham said. 

As far as the magic that Watson flashed on the Texans final drive in overtime, Cunningham struggled to put a lot of words around what he witnessed but summed it up as good as anybody. 

"That was crazy. That was just a crazy ass play."

As "crazy" and anxiety-ridden as that play was, Watson said after the game he knew to expect a ton of pressure on that play. 

"I knew it was a blitz zero. I knew I was going to have pressure. I knew the ball was going to have to get out quick," Watson described. "But I was trying to make a play with D. Hop and just happened to be Kevin Johnson sitting over there at that corner spot, who's been here for five years, who knows exactly where I wanted to go versus this coverage.

"So he snuck off, and by the time I was trying to get it to Taiwan earlier, they were going to be right there. the pressure was there. I just kind of braced myself and spun out of it, and I knew exactly where Taiwan was going to be at. That's why I kind of flicked it out to him."

That crazy play turned out to be the greatness Watson talked to his teammates about earlier in the day. 

“I told the guys before the game...I said let’s be great today,” Watson told ESPN. “So somebody had to be great. Why not me?”

That message wasn't lost on his teammates, nor did Watson neglect to give the players around him every opportunity to be great themselves. 

Following a bobbled ball on the Texans go-ahead drive in the fourth-quarter, Carlos Hyde was given another opportunity on the next play and caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Watson.  

That chance for redemption wasn't lost on Hyde. 

"He was just like, score on this play," Hyde said. "I was ready for him to say the play and I said let's go, I was excited. He was ready to throw me the ball right away. I had to make sure I was clear and I turned around. He probably could've ran it himself for real, I appreciate it, though." 

The confidence and trust you have to develop in your teammates is something that Watson learned a long time ago, but remembers Swinney engraining in him at Clemson.

"I've been told, especially at a young age and especially that when I was in college, Dabo used to always tell us, regardless if we're up or if we're down, don't ever look a the scoreboard. Keep fighting and keep pushing forward," Watson said. "Every drive, at the end of the day, you're going to look up at the scoreboard and you're going to be where you want to be at. That's what we did and we kept fighting. The game is never over and anything can happen, especially in the NFL. So we just keep pushing for it."

That's Watson, the leader.

That's Watson, your quarterback, Houston.

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