Watson Leads Texans Back, Injuries Pile Up

Next man up mentality fuels Watson's game winning drive

Shaun Bijani
October 27, 2019 - 7:31 pm

SPORTS RADIO 610 (HOUSTON, TEXAS) - Deshaun Watson led the Texans back from a 21-13 second half deficit, using his late game heroics once again to hand the Oakland Raiders (3-4) their second straight loss and help the Texans to a 27-24 victory at NRG Stadium Sunday evening. 

The Texans entered play Sunday extremely shorthanded. Already missing key pieces on the offensive line and in the receiving core, the Texans were looking vulnerable in the secondary as well, missing corners Bradley Roby and Johnathan Joseph as well as safety Tashaun Gipson. 

Thus, the challenge was on.

Right out of the gate, Lonnie Johnson Jr. and Gareon Conley were both tested on the Raiders first drive of the game - in man coverage - but those two held their own on that first drive by the Raiders as the Texans forced a PUNT after just four plays. 

While the Texans came out slow themselves offensively, the defense was again going to have to step up. 

Raiders receiver, Patrick Renfrow, getting inside leverage on CB Lonnie Johnson Jr., caught about a 12-yard pass from Carr on the Raiders third offensive series, who turned it into a 65-yard TD in the first quarter to give the Raiders the early advantage. The play was a bunched trips look from Oakland, while the Texans were showing blitz off the edge on that same side, opening a seam inside for Renfrow to gain leverage and make the play. 

The Texans didn't waste anytime responding, driving the ball 75-yards down the field on 6 plays, which took just 2:01 off the game clock, ending with Deshaun Watson 12-yard TD strike to Duke Johnson, tying the ballgame at 7-7. 

The Raiders put together a 10 play 75-yard drive a couple of possessions later, with a good mix of run and pass, to take a 14-7 lead. 

Moments after recording a 6-yard tackle-for-loss, JJ Watt walked off the field under his own power at the 6:09 mark of the second quarter and immediatley sought treatment inside the medical tent. Watt would head to the locker room just moments later and would not return after sustaining a left-shoulder injury.  

One play later, Lonnie Johnson Jr. went down with an injury at the 5:04 mark in the second quarter, after the Texans had just stopped the Raiders on a 3rd and long to force a punt. Johnson was able to walk off under his own power, a few minutes later he went to the locker room with a consussion and did not return.

The Texans were able to cut the deficit to 14-10, with just over a minute remaining in the first half after Kaimi Fairbairn's 33-yard FG as the Texans 11 play 64-yard drive. 

The Texans began the second half with a 9 play 53-yard drive that ended in another Kaimi Fairbairn field goal. The 40-yard kick sliced the Raiders lead to just 14-13. 

The Raiders, operating without JJ Watt lurking on the other side of the line of scrimmage after leaving in the first haf with a shoulder injury, began to exploit a pieced together Texans secondary with the first drive of the second half. 

Carr completed a deep ball to Tyrell Williams to quickly get into Texans territory. Cornell Armstrong, promoted from the practice squad just a day prior as the Texans waived rookie Xavier Crawford on Saturday, was on the coverage. 

Moments later, Carr found Williams again, who appeared to have made a tremendous catch over the top of Keion Crossen, but failed to hold it to the ground, setting up a 3rd and long situation from the Texans 46-yard line. 

Carr, operating with a lot of time in the pocket to find a receiver, again decided to go to Williams.

Williams ran a crossing route and cut up field as Carr and the Raiders offensive line extended the play, Williams found a seam in the secondary for a 46-yard TD catch and the Raiders took a 21-13 lead after the extra point. 

Deshaun Watson and the Texans answered with a long drive of their own, thanks to the dynamic Watson who crossed up the Raiders once again with his ability to run the ball and extend plays. The Texans drive was nearly stifled, but luckily extended, as Carlos Hyde was able to recover his own fumble at the Raiders 16-yard line. The Texans were able to convert on the 3rd and 1 on the next play, after a Watson scramble for 4 yards. 

Watson completed two straight passes to tight end Darren Fells, the second of which went for a 4-yard TD strike that put the Texans back within 21-20 following the extra point from Fairbairn. 

Texan linebacker Dylan Cole came up with a big pass breakup on a Raiders 3rd and 7 attempt from the Texans 35-yard line. The pass intended for Darren Waller was undercut by Cole, who's deflection forced a field goal attempt and kept the game within reach after the 44-yard make by kicker Dan Carlson, giving the Raiders a 24-20 lead with about 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. 

As if the Texans werent banged up enought, Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil went down at the 9:44 mark of the fourth, Chris Clark who started the game at right tackle, moved to left and Dan Skipper entered the game at right tackle. 

Clark was signed less than two weeks ago, when former starting right offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson was placed on the non-football injury list. Just one of a number of injuries on the offensive front this season for the Texans, as Roderick Johnson, dealing with a neck injury suffered against the Indianapolis Colts has been sidelined as well as first-round draft pick Tytus Howard, who's out with a partially torn medial collateral ligament. 

Despite having not played together and the Texans piecing a line together on the fly as they were forced to do with the secondary, they stepped up a the right time Sunday, with the game on the line. 

The Texans ran the ball for 17 yards total on the next 3 plays. After Watson found Deandre Hopkins down the sideline for a 3 yard gain and another Texans first down, Watson scrambled for 10 yards and moved the chains again. 

With 6:26 remaining in the game and the Texans trailing 24-20 and needing a touchdown, Deshaun Watson was forced out of the pocket again, and as he broke away from a sure sack, he was kicked in the face by Raiders defensive end Arden Key, spun around and threw a touchdown strike to Darren Fells for the second time Sunday and the lead. 

Following Fairbairn's extra point, the Texans held a 27-24 advantage and needed the defense to come up with a stop. Despite being banged up before and during the game, losing JJ Watt and Lonnie Johnson Jr. both in the first half as well as already entering play today without three bigtime contributors in their secondary in Bradley Roby, Johnathan Joseph and Tashaun Gipson, the Texans had their hands full to keep Derek Carr and the Raiders at bay in the final minutes. 

Carr continued to find open receivers and the Raiders run game continued to gash the Texans front seven as they found themselves in Texans territory at the 45-yard line just 2 plays into their drive. 

Tyrell Williams dropped a pass that could've led to a touchdown with Keion Crossen in coverage, and the Texans held them from there, forcing a punt with 3:56 remaining and a 27-24 lead. 

The Texans controlled the ball for the games final minutes and improved to 5-3 on the season. 

The next man up mentality is in full effect. Whether or not the Texans can continue to withstand the brutality that is the NFL and hemorage key players to injury in a pivtal season remains to be seen.

The Texans travel to London this next week to face the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) for a week 8 matchup.