Texans Trick Play Almost Didn't Happen

Patriots didn't give the look Deshaun Watson wanted

Adam Spolane
December 02, 2019 - 1:43 am

Photo by Thomas Shea/USA Today

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) - The most memorable play of the Texans 28-22 win over the New England Patriots almost didn't happen.

"We wanted man coverage," Watson said. "They went kind of like a two-high look. It was funky at first. I wanted to check out of it. But I was like, ‘No, this is a perfect time’. We got it here. If we don't run it now, probably never run it. So I was like forget it."

The play happened with just under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Leading 21-9, the Texans had the ball first and goal from the Patriots six-yard line. Lined up in shotgun, Watson handed the ball to Duke Johnson, who while moving left, flipped the ball to DeAndre Hopkins while he sprinted to the right. As he took a hit from Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson, Hopkins flipped the ball to Watson. After securing the ball, the Texans quarterback found the corner of the endzone for his first receiving touchdown since high school.

"I saw Hop tuck it, took one step, and I knew he was going to pitch it right out.  I just know Hop like the back of my hand. He just threw it up in the air, I got it, scored. It was cool.”

The touchdown all but locked down the Texans eighth win of the season, which keeps them in first place by a game over the Tennessee Titans in the AFC South.

“I think they drew it up in the dirt over the bye week," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien joked. "They brought it in, had it on a piece of notebook paper, handed it to me."

The process of implementing the play into the Texans gameplan wasn't quite that informal, though O'Brien wasn't far off. Watson said the idea of it came while he and backup quarterback A.J. McCarron were watching film of a Chicago Bears game.

"We threw it out to (offensive coordinator) Tim Kelly, OB and then Hop saw it, and Hop of course is like, ‘Let's do it! Let’s do it!’. He was excited so we kept working on it, kept working on it."

Watson said the team spent four weeks working on the play in practice, but with so many moving parts executing it in a game is no small feat. 

"It's hard, because you're never going to be able to simulate the speed with which you see it out here," O'Brien said. "You have to rep it time and time again."

Making things all the more difficult, Hopkins said the Patriots defense was ready for it.

"They were calling the play out, calling me out coming across. They played it patiently. We just made a better play.”

It appears the play Watson and McCarron saw on film was a 2-point conversion the Bears ran against the Minnesota Vikings during the 2017 season, so Watson knew if the Texans were ever going to run their variation of the play, it would have to come near the goaline, so after a pass interference penalty put the ball on the six-yard line, the Texans quarterback knew it was time.

"I kind of knew the whole play call that was going to be called. That was the play called. Hop was excited. I was excited. He did a good job of really selling the guys that come up, and then giving me a good pitch enough where I can catch it and dive in.”

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