Deshaun Watson knows the pain.
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is playing like a star.
Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins are an explosive receiver tandem.
Texans coach Bill O'Brien
Deshaun Watson cannot even watch — as his magic, some of the most incredible magic a Houston professional athlete has ever produced — is turned into a heartbreaking footnote. Watson turns his back on the 58-yard field goal that will steal a win that would have completely changed the perception of the Bill O’Brien era.
Instead, it’s New Orleans Saints 30, Houston Texans 28.
Instead, it’s heart wrenching agony in the Big Easy.
Watson should be celebrating one of the most amazing drives in Houston football history. O’Brien should be taking a well deserved victory lap for his going-all-out play calling, for having his patched together team somehow so ready for the big stage.
Instead, the Texans play too soft on defense in the closing seconds and let Drew Brees get just enough yards to set up Wil Lutz’s game-winning, cannon shot at the final buzzer.
What a game. What an effort. What a quarterback.
And what an absolute gut punch of a no way loss.
Did you think the crazy, loud scene of the Superdome would unnerve a Texans team that only came together about a week ago? You obviously have not been paying close enough attention to Deshaun Watson.
Watson does not do scared.
Getting the ball back at his own 25-yard line, down six points with only 50 seconds left , Watson pulls off two of the most incredible throws you’ll ever see. He hits new Texan Kenny Stills for a 37-yard touchdown, creates a miracle out of nothing. Somehow survives a first missed extra point.
And still loses… how? How? How is that even possible?
For a quarterback who grabs the biggest moments like football’s own Michael Jordan, one reared on the always winning ways of Clemson, this all must not compute. No wonder Deshaun Watson couldn’t watch that final kick.
Watson kept going in and out of the medical tent, even as he insisted it was “just a bruise” to ESPN’s Monday Night Football sideline reporter. The receiver who didn’t drop a pass all last season kept dropping passes. J.J. Watt kept running into double teams, finding out that life without Jadeveon Clowney isn’t exactly all sacks and roses.
Still, Bill O’Brien’s Houston Texans kept coming, bringing the fight right to the Super Bowl trendy New Orleans Saints time and time again.
“We’ve got a good football team in there and we’re never out of it,” O’Brien says at the podium afterwards, in remarks broadcast on both the NFL Network and 610 AM. “So even when things aren’t going so good, as long as we can keep it within range, we’re in every game.
“I think that’s what Deshaun Watson gives us. He’s a great football player. He’s competitive. And he’s calm. And he’s poised. He’s got all that.”
On a critical third-and-two late in the fourth quarter, Brees throws a 40-yard bomb for a field shifting (no, game shifting) first down. Watson still comes back.
The Texans cannot hold 21-10 lead — and their offensive line cannot hold up for Watson, giving up six sacks — but they still somehow find a way to take the lead again with only 37 seconds left. In one of the toughest environments O’Brien’s team will play in all season.
The ultimate big stage player is at it again in the Monday Night Football opener, throwing and running all over the heavily favored Saints, making O’Brien look like the rare Mad King who actually knows what he is doing.
Did all the frantic wheeling and dealing O’Brien pulled off — jettisoning Clowney for virtually nothing and paying him to leave to boot, trading with the tanking Miami Dolphins for left tackle Laremy Tunsil and wide receiver Kenny Stills at an extremely high future drafts cost, plucking expendable tailback Carlos Hyde from the Kansas City Chiefs — seem a little desperate? Do Bachelor contestants seem a little unhinged?
Of course, the answer is of course.
But who cares if O’Brien can get his team ready to perform the way it did for most of Monday night?
There is Deshaun Watson flinging a 54-yard bomb to Will Fuller from his own end zone. There is Watson leaping into the end zone to score the game’s first touchdown, finishing his darting 21-yard run with all-out effort. And some pain. Back pain, a scary thought.
There is Hyde ripping off a 21-yard run, bouncing off Saints all the way. There is DeAndre Hopkins shaking off those drops (three times Hopkins has hands on balls in the first half and three times he cannot come down with them) to catch the touchdown that puts Houston up 21-10 in the third quarter — and several even better fourth quarter grabs.
There is Stills coming up with that catch after Watson somehow avoids the Saints’ fierce rush just long enough to get him the ball. Watson gets leveled after delivering the throw, but he still gets the touchdown.
And the Texans still lose? Deshaun Watson deserves so much better. Again.