Culture / Sporting Life

Ultra Grumpy Bill Belichick & Tom Brady Sweet Music to Texans Fans’ Ears — This Win’s a Long Time Coming and Watson and O’Brien Earn Emotional Postgame Moment

Trick Play's Nice, But There is Nothing Fluky About Texans' Victory

BY // 12.02.19

If wasn’t for the model good looks and the crowd parting for him like it’s seen Leonardo DiCaprio (which it sort of has), Tom Brady could almost be mistaken for just another harried East Coast commuter. He walks into the cramped visitors press conference room in the bowels of NRG Stadium at a brisk pace, wearing a simple black winter coat (big hood included) and a blue denim button down shirt.

He leaves at an even more rushed pace — though not anywhere as close to as fast as Bill Belichick, who barely bothers to sideways shake Bill O’Brien’s hand and loudly exhales through only five measly postgame questions.

Brady ignores a “Last Question?” decree from Patriots PR maven Stacey James and ends his postgame session himself without any final query.

“Class dismissed,” Brady says. Then, he’s gone.

This is how it goes when you vanquish the New England Patriots beast and shake up the bully a little. Belichick and company don’t really want to talk about it.

No matter. The loud almost guttural screams of relief and joy from Texans fans as they leave NRG Stadium in one of the loudest postgame scenes this 17-year-old building has ever seen say plenty. The largest crowd in Texans history (72,025) sees Houston 28, New England 22.

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And that’s enough. That’s Next Level Joy.

One very enthusiastic Texans fan goes as far as following Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair down the hall t0 get a hug. Hey, everyone wants to touch a winner.

And that’s what McNair has with Bill O’Brien, Deshaun Watson and these Texans now. A clear winner.

O’Brien’s team is 8-4 with a should-win home game against the 4-8 Broncos next Sunday. In a packed AFC that includes 10-2 Baltimore, now 10-2 New England, 9-3 Buffalo and 8-4 Kansas City, the Texans still carry plenty of upside.

Watson gives O’Brien the game ball after this one, a sweet moment that reflects the trust between the QB who changes everything and the coach who Texans fans sometimes just seem to reflexively hate.

“It really came from everyone, but for me to present that, I bet it mean a lot to him and to us as an organization,” Watson says. “It was awesome. He was excited. We all kind of jumped around. He probably teared up or cried in the back.” 

O’Brien deserves this moment. His team is more than ready for the Patriots — and the gameplan on both offense and defense are creative. It’s enough to move the Texans to 2-10 against New England all-time — and more importantly to prove to themselves that things are truly different on Kirby Drive.

This is not the greatest win in Texans history as veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who should know better, seems to suggest. This is a franchise that’s won playoff games, one that played like the best team in the NFL for long stretches of the 2011 and 2012 seasons with Arian Foster in his prime and a young J.J. Watt.

No one thinks the Texans look like the NFL’s best team this season. But they’ll have a serious puncher’s chance with Watson and some creativity in what could be a wild, wild playoffs.

Belichick leaves lamenting the fact that Houston scores 28 points without “making any plays in the kicking game.”

Deshaun Watson’s Trick Play Magic

Watson and his backup A.J. McCarron, the former Alabama quarterback who had a much better week than his old coach Nick Saban, came up with some of the creativity that helped slay the Patriots. While watching game tape, the two QBs saw the Bears pull off a neat looking trick on a 2-point conversion try.

So Watson and McCarron brought it to Texans offensive coordinator Tim Kelly and O’Brien. Against the Patriots, on first-and-goal from the six yard line in the fourth quarter, they finally use it.

The handoff to the running back, handoff to the wideout, pitch pass to the quarterback fourth Texans touchdown seems almost unfair. This is something Belichick would admire if it wasn’t happening to him. Duke Johnson gets the quick handoff from Watson, hands the ball off to Hopkins and watches Hopkins wait until almost the last moment to fling the ball up for Watson, who rather easily snares it high out of the air and sprints in for a diving six yard score.

Texans 28, Patriots 9.

Good thing Watson ignores his first instinct to check out of the gadget play when the Patriots show two-high zone coverage rather than the man-to-man the Texans hoped to exploit on the play.

“I wanted to check out of it,” Watson admits later. “But I was like, ‘No, this is a perfect time’. We got it here. If we don’t run it now, we’ll probably never run it.

So I was like ‘Forget it. Me and Hop will make something work.’ ”

Hopkins does, delivering the flip pass as a Patriots defender closes in.

“I would give myself a 10,” Hopkins says of his QB skills. “Maybe an 11 because I took a hit just to get it to him.”

No Brady Bunch

What looks like an exclamation point on a rout turns into the needed game-winning touchdown after Brady remembers he’s Brady and throws for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the final nine minutes of the fourth quarter.

Still, even with an onside kick that just squirts out of Patriot Brian Bolden’s grasp, this is the Texans night.

Watson is playing air guitar, strumming louder (or at least more enthusiastically) after each touchdown pass. (He has three of them.) The Texans defense is standing up — and downright befuddling Tom Brady — like never before. NRG Stadium is roaring, with the strong mini army of Patriots devotees in No. 12 jerseys completely drown out by cheers for the actual home team.

This is a whole new world, one where down is up, hot is cold and icons wear no clothes. For at least most of the night.

“Not a whole lot to say here,” a stone faced Belichick rather softly says afterwards. “The Texans did a good job tonight across the board in every area. They were just better than we were tonight.”

Ah, the sweet sounds of a grumpy Belichick. Texans fans have waited a long, long time for that.

“We played against a good team on the road,” Brady says. “If you don’t play good, you don’t win.”

These Texans of Watson, Hopkins and O’Brien are not the Pats’ patsies anymore. Some wins, some moments, are a long time coming.

O’Brien earns this game ball. It means more than a long handshake from his grumpy old boss anyways.

Let the grumps go back to New England and stew.

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