DeAndre Hopkins leaves little question about where he feels he fits into the game.
Jerry Jones feels the love from Cowboys fans at practice.
Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins tries to bring a sense of European style to the NFL.
Dak Prescott, David Yurman, Ezekiel Elliott
Texans coach Bill O'Brien
DeAndre Hopkins is a different type of NFL star.
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones lusts after a receiver like the Texans' DeAndre Hopkins.
Walking into the interview room in a leather vest with straps that Han Solo would kill for, DeAndre Hopkins suddenly remembers one oversight. “Forgot my earrings,” Hopkins says, almost chagrined.
The outfit may not quite be perfect without that topper — at least not by Hopkins’ own serious fashionista standards — but this is the rare wide receiver who can save an imperfect game. That’s what Hopkins does in overtime, rescuing this once in a blue moon Houston Texans-Dallas Cowboys regular season game from Bill O’Brien’s bad red zone play calls and Jason Garrett’s gutless decision making, with a burst of pure individual brilliance.
Hopkins doesn’t just deliver the Texans’ second straight overtime victory. He doesn’t only give Bob McNair’s franchise its first victory over the hated (and often envied) Cowboys in 16 years, its first win over Dallas since the very first game in Texans’ history no less. He goes viral — grabbing a 12-yard Deshaun Watson pass out of the air and turning it into a twisting, darting, two spin move 49-yard gain that sets up a no-sweat 36-yard field goal and a 19-16 win.
And he looks like a damn unicorn to Jerry Jones while doing it.
“I’d love to have No. 1 receivers,” the forlorn-looking Cowboys owner says in the bowels of NRG Stadium. “You have to get those when the opportunities are there. (Hopkins) made the plays out there that made a lot of difference.”
Yes, DeAndre Hopkins even makes billionaires want to cry.
Though, you can’t charge Jerry with being a poor sport. “The better team won the game tonight,” Jones says.
Mostly, just the better receiver and the better quarterback. And the slightly less scared coach.
The Texans’ lifeline receiver is like an HBO show suddenly dropped into a lineup of CBS sitcoms, like a burst of sprinkles suddenly put on a plain vanilla sundae.
These Texans are 2-3 and somehow not dead yet because they have Hopkins and Watson and the Cowboys don’t. Dallas also having Garrett does not help either.
But as infuriating as The Jerry Jones Coach For Life’s decision to punt on fourth-and-two from Houston’s 42-yard line with 5:40 left in overtime is to Cowboys fans — Jones says it was “time for risk at that particular time” — the truth is that the team with the better stars won.
DeAndre Hopkins knocks down one ball in the end zone while playing defensive back at the end of regulation, plucks another out of the sky and turns it into the biggest play of the game — and that’s enough. Houston’s won its second straight overtime game, despite looking inept at times in both. Jones’ squad and all those Cowboys fans who tried to take over NRG Stadium (and succeeded at times) go staggering into the night at 2-3.
What a difference the right star makes.
“I’m about to have a night and a morning and another night!” Jadeveon Clowney calls out in the Texans’ locker room, planning out his epic Sunday night celebration (and then some). In fourth-plus seasons of seeing the Texans’ defensive force in postgame locker rooms, this is the most jubilant Clowney I’ve ever seen.
Despite all their warts and flaws (and there are plenty of both), these 2018 Texans are suddenly having fun.
“I expect that out of him,” Clowney says of Hopkins’ bit of game-changing overtime improvisation. “We’re paying him $81 million dollars, I expect him to make that play.”
Clowney laughs. He’s clowning — that’s what winners can do. Even former Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson is in the locker room, enjoying the afterglow of a win.
Jerry Jones and DeAndre
Jones probably wishes he could pay Hopkins $181 million. That’s how desperate the Cowboys are for any kind of aerial playmaker on a night when Ezekiel Elliott is almost completely bottled up (54 yards rushing on 20 carries, a measly 2.7 yards per tote with a long run of 14 yards.)
The largest crowd in Houston Texans’ franchise history (72,008 packed into NRG) truthfully deserves better than the type of football put out by both the Cowboys and the Texans. Much of the night is barely watchable, more of a trading of blunders and ill-advised play calls than haymakers and explosive plays.
But Texas only gets a Texans-Cowboys game that means anything once every four years. Sometimes, you have to take what you can get.
What football loving fans get in this national Sunday Night Football showcase is Watson and Hopkins. The Texans’ lifeline receiver is like an HBO show suddenly dropped into a lineup of CBS sitcoms, like a burst of sprinkles suddenly put on a plain vanilla sundae.
“Oh man, did you see Hops’ two spin moves?!” Texans rookie safety Justin Reid gushes. “The first spin move he gets by a guy… and then he breaks out another spin! DeAndre is a special player.”
He happens to be exactly the type of special player that could transform this Cowboys team from a big ratings NFL afterthought into a true contender. But Dallas has nothing like him — and hasn’t since long before Dez Bryant left the Cowboys universe — and became a Twitter Yoda.
“I told (Hopkins) it was like he was playing a Blitz (video) game or something,” Texans receiver Keke Coutee says. “He just went into another game mode. He’s crazy.”
Hopkins’ 49-yard catch-and-run-and-double-spin is so impressive that one reporter actually asks him if he felt dizzy because of all the spinning.
“I wasn’t dizzy,” Hopkins shoots back. “I hydrated well enough before the game.”
If you too drink enough water kids, you can someday pull off spin moves like DeAndre Hopkins! OK, maybe not.
Even Ka’imi Fairbairn, the kicker who made the 36-yard field goal to win the game with 1:50 left on the overtime clock, could not help but pay homage to the Texans’ Perfect 10.
“That Hop catch at the end if the game was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen,” Fairbairn says. “He’s an incredible player.”
“I see you Ka’imi,” Clowney calls out from a few lockers down the row. “The second straight week in a row (hitting a game winner). Ka’imi’s the man.”
Did, we mention Clowney is really into this win?
Daring Deshaun Watson
All these Houston Texans players can enjoy the W — for as long as Watson is still standing. The quarterback who everything depends on takes some vicious hits near the sideline from the Cowboys defenders while trying to stretch every single yard he can out of his 10 rushes.
Watson has now thrown for 375 or more yards and rushed for 35 or more yards in three straight games, something no other quarterback in NFL history has ever done even twice in a row. He and Hopkins (who accounted for 151 of Watson’s 375 passing yards on this Sunday night) are the offense.
And exactly what the Cowboys are dying to have.
“Hopkins is tremendous,” Jones says.
Close your mouth, Jerry. DeAndre Hopkins is not going anywhere.