Justin Reid is a young defensive force for Bill O'Brien's Houston Texans.
A Rolls-Royce Wraith is quite the car — and quite a birthday present for Deshaun Watson.
J.J. Watt is becoming a more vocal leader when the Texans need it most.
Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins are an explosive receiver tandem.
Houston Texans star Whitney Mercilus
Texans coach Bill O'Brien
Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien arrives for a public celebration of life for Houston Texans owner Robert C. McNair at NRG Stadium. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, POOL)
J.J. Watt and his girlfriend Kealia Ohai enjoy a red carpet moment at NFL Honors.
Leonard Fournette is a 6-foot, 230-pound mountain of a man, a running back so fierce that he was a legend even before he stepped foot on the LSU campus. Justin Reid arrived in the NFL without anything approaching Fournette buzz. He dropped to the third round of the draft and some wondered if Reid would ever be a pro starter.
Reid also happens to give up nearly 30 pounds to Fournette. But when they meet at the goal line with a game the Houston Texans desperately need to survive on the line, Fournette is the one who gives. He’s turned back by Reid, stopped about as close as you can get to crossing the plane of the end zone without actually doing it.
Texans 13, Jaguars 12. You can exhale now. And smile.
Six days after losing by two points in New Orleans in the most excruciatingly heartbreaking way possible, Bill O’Brien’s cardiac Texans beat Jacksonville by one thanks to a two-point conversion stop from a second year safety who always knew he’d be special.
“Oh man, just pure ecstasy,” Reid says afterwards, leaning against a wall in the Texans locker room, still in his pads. “It was excitement. I almost threw my arm out with how hard I punched the air ( in celebration). I was so excited.”
Who can blame Justin Quintin Reid for trying to hold onto this moment?
He made the kind of play that can help shape a season, the kind of play that gets you noticed around the league. Johnathan Joseph knows what Reid is feeling. Joseph is one of the NFL’s ultimate graybeards, a veteran in his 14th season. But he remembers plays early in his career like the one Reid just made. These are the type of plays that define you as an impact maker.
“I remember my rookie year, we were up in Pittsburgh,” Joseph tells PaperCity of his own big play NFL baptism. “Had three or four pass breakups. On third down, they went to Hines Ward on a pick route. I just said, ‘If they throw this to Hines Ward, I’m making a play.’
“And it should have been an interception for a touchdown. But the ball bounced right off my chest. But it was a big play in the game.”
The Steelers would have to punt and Joseph’s Bengals ended up winning. Joseph learned something in that moment, something Justin Reid already seems to be picking up as well.
“If you want to make a big play in a game, you’ve got to anticipate,” Joseph says.
Anticipating makes all the difference. Anticipating can win you an NFL game your team is threatening to throw away. Sometimes, anticipating can even earn your franchise quarterback a new dream car.
Deshaun Watson turned 24 on Saturday. Reid’s big stop on Sunday actually made him feel like celebrating it. And it sounds like it’s going to be one heck of a birthday week for the QB who gives the Texans more hope than the franchise has ever had before.
“I might get a Wraith,” Watson says, breaking into a big grin. “A Rolls-Royce. For sure.”
Of course, the Wraith is a dream car that starts at $325,000 in its most basic iteration. There are birthday gifts — and then there are birthday gifts.
It is hard to imagine Watson being in the right mood to treat himself if the Texans are 0-2. In many ways, Reid’s stop of Fournette saved Watson’s birthday too. Now, that’s a big tackle.
One that made O’Brien’s time management challenges at the end of the first half a largely moot point. O’Brien took the Bill Belichick mantra of valuing timeouts over time on the clock (the Patriots boss argues that having timeouts late in a drive to stop the clock is more important than saving clock earlier) to the extreme. And it left O’Brien having to kick a field goal on second down with two seconds left in the half and take two useless unused timeout into halftime.
“If you want to make a big play in a game, you’ve got to anticipate,” Johnathan Joseph tells PaperCity.
The NFL is a win or not league — and the Texans won. By the strength of Reid’s grip.
“I thought I got in when I reached the ball,” Fournette says.
Reid made sure he didn’t. And a replay review confirmed it.
“I was 100 percent confident,” Reid says of tackling Fournette just short. “I knew it on the field. I didn’t need to see the review.”
But he’ll watch it plenty on SportsCenter. The play even brought back visions of Rams linebacker Mike Jones tackling Titans receiver Kevin Dyson one yard short of the end zone to win Super Bowl XXXIV.
This Jacksonville-Houston slog was no Super Bowl. But Reid still made a super play.
Justin Reid’s Season Shifter
This is how NFL seasons are saved — or broken. By one stop. Or one miss. The Texans cannot do much against the Jaguars this Sunday. The offense is more like an old, sputtering farm tractor than the supersonic Wraith that raced up and down the Superdome field. All-everything receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller do not even total 100 yards between them.
Houston does get 90 yards from Carlos Hyde on 20 carries. Hyde may be on his fourth team in the last two seasons (Cleveland, Jacksonville, Kansas City and now Houston), but he’s also clearly O’Brien’s No. 1 running back now. The Texans also get a twisting, turning touchdown run from Watson on fourth-and-1 from the Jaguars two-yard line.
Even in a game when he only throws for 159 yards, Watson still finds a way to make a huge impact.
“I was just thinking, ‘Oh man, he saved us again,’ ” left guard Tytus Howard says of Watson’s fourth down run. The play is not designed to go the way Watson ends up running. No matter, few things work as planned for the Texans on this Sunday.
Watson improvises it.
J.J. Watt went back to making big plays, pressuring the Jaguars’ pocket all day, pouncing on a critical forced fumble. Whitney Mercilus is a constant source of worry for Jacksonville’s mustached rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew, picking up two sacks and two forced fumbles.
“Whitney is a savage,” Reid gushes when the subject turns to the once forgotten No. 59. “I need to hang out with Whitney more. He’s making plays. He’s going to get paid.
“I told him this was his year.”
This is Justin Reid’s game, though. His day. His anticipation. His stop. But not his Rolls-Royce Wraith.
Quarterbacks still get certain extra perks.