Trying to cover Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins one-on-one is a bad idea.
DeAndre Hopkins left little doubt who the best player on the field in the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys game was.
DeAndre Hopkins (Photo by Michelle Watson)
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is playing like a star.
DeAndre Hopkins has plenty of GQ looks.
Deshaun Watson at the Center for Pursuit luncheon. (Photo by Daniel Ortiz)
Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins are an explosive receiver tandem.
Mom already has a touchdown ball, so now it is DeAndre Hopkins’ older sister Kesha’s turn. “That’s why I put my family right there,” Hopkins simply says later of their position in the first row of the stands along the end zone.
To Hopkins, it’s a matter of basic logistics. But the NFL’s best receiver might need to make sure he even has more family members in the stands as long as Will Fuller is back on the field and running free of injuries. For everything changes for Hopkins and the Houston Texans when opposing defenses can no longer simply double cover him on almost every play.
With Fuller playing for the first time since Week 7, Hopkins catches two long touchdown passes (35 and 30 yards) to push Bill O’Brien’s team to a much-needed 20-17 Thursday Night Football win. Hopkins gives the first touchdown ball to his mother Sabrina Greenlee, who is blind from a horrific attack that happened when Hopkins was a kid. Mom always gets the first ball.
But when he scores again, Kesha is in luck. The Indianapolis Colts defensive backs only wish they could get as close to Hopkins as his family reaching over from the stands.
On his first touchdown, the safety assigned to provide help over the top either somehow completely loses sight of DeAndre or forgets about one of the most dangerous players in the entire NFL. This is probably the most wide open Hopkins has ever been on a touchdown catch in the pros.
There are bumbling detectives in bad comedy movies who do a better job of tracking someone.
On Hopkins’ second touchdown, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus makes the conscious decision to play man to man coverage against the Texans’ lifeline. That is akin to making the conscious decision to take a bus full of first graders to Frozen 2.
It may sound like a sweet idea, but you’re going to end up paying for it in the end.
Hopkins easily beats Colts cornerback Pierre Desir on the play for what stands up as the winning touchdown. On a night when Astros ace Justin Verlander and Kate Upton hang out on the sidelines, a night when Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson accounts for 308 of his team’s 398 total yards, a night when J.J. Watt plays cheerleader, No. 10 still emerges as the most interesting man in NRG.
Verlander leaves with his Houston sports buddy Deshaun Watson’s signed game jersey, but Hopkins is the one who leaves as The Truth.
This Colts-Texans clash is seldom pretty, and it’s often a slog. Except when DeAndre Hopkins is changing it.
No Party for You!
After Hopkins’ second touchdown, his teammate and fellow wide receiver Fuller eschews any end zone party.
“I just went over and told him that I’m not going to celebrate because that’s what I expect from him,” Fuller says later in the Texans locker room. “DeAndre’s the best receiver in the game.”
And you think your friends are demanding? Fuller will not even give Hopkins love after a TD. And he’s not alone.
“I expect that from Hop,” Texans running back Carlos Hyde says. “When he does stuff like that, I expect him to do it.”
One NFL referee was clearly more impressed. This wise man reversed an initial no-catch call after Hopkins tapped his toes along the sideline on one memorable play.
“One of the refs — I don’t know why — he tried to wave it off,” Hopkins says. “But the other ref was like ‘That’s a catch.’ I think he’s watched more of my games than the other guy. To know that we really don’t overturn those.”
You don’t take away catches from DeAndre Hopkins. Instead Hopkins takes over games — that’s just what he does. Especially when he has a little help.
Fuller’s presence provides that help. It gives Hopkins room to show off the true extent of his skills. Fuller isn’t close to the most talented Texan. He may be the most fragile, the football equivalent of Mr. Glass. But his unmatched speed changes things for Houston to a degree that almost no one else can.
“He just opens up a lot of different things,” Watson says of Fuller. “His speed, his route running. You have to respect him.”
On Hopkins’ second touchdown, Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus makes the conscious decision to play man to man coverage against him. That is akin to making the conscious decision to take a bus full of first graders to Frozen 2.
With secondaries forced to pay attention to Fuller too, Hopkins gets a little more open field. That’s all he needs.
There are still few reasons for anyone in Baltimore or New England to fear these now 7-4 Texans. Gutting out a three point win over the 6-5 Colts at home does not make up for Ravens 41, Texans 7. But this wide receiver duo is one reason that the Texans still could do something in the playoffs.
With Hopkins and Fuller, Houston may have just enough difference makers. Like Carlos Correa who misses big chunks of the regular season but has shown up big in several Octobers for the Astros, Will Fuller could change everything if he can get to January still sprinting.
He catches seven passes for 140 yards on this night, including an 11-yard dart on a third-and-4 inside of two minutes that essentially puts the game away. So much has been taken away from the 25-year-old Notre Dame product early in his NFL career. But on this night, Fuller takes away any chance of a win from the Colts.
“He’s one of the fastest guys in the NFL,” Hopkins says of Fuller. “I think that speaks for itself.”
So does having two wide receivers like this. When this night is over, O’Brien tells his team in the locker room about being impressed at how they were able to “turn the page.” He lets them know that they’ve set themselves up “to be in the hunt now.” And then, he notes that he will not need to see them until Monday, setting off a mad mosh pit of jumping NFL players.
Three days off is huge at this point in the season.
“See you Monday,” Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus gushes. “That’s love right there!”
DeAndre Hopkins knows love. He gives it to his family with every touchdown. And there is finally truly reason to believe a lot more love could be coming now.