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Deshaun Watson Used All of His Magic to Drag the Texans Past the Bills

The Houston quarterback’s performance wasn’t always pretty, but he delivered when it mattered most in the wild-card round

Wild Card Round - Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

In the Texans-Bills wild-card game on Saturday, ESPN broadcasters Booger McFarland and Joe Tessitore kept asking whether Josh Allen had a little more magic left. But there was only one quarterback in that game who could be described as a wizard. Look at this feat in overtime from Houston’s Deshaun Watson, which defies all known laws of physics and science:

Look at it from this angle, too:

And in slow motion:

And, hell, here’s one more angle:

Watson survives a three-car crash before scrambling and finding veteran journeyman running back Taiwan Jones, who came into this game with just a single reception this season. Jones rushed 34 yards upfield, to the Bills’ 10-yard line. On the next play, the Texans took no chances: Ka’imi Fairbairn booted the game-winning 28-yard field goal and Houston punched its ticket to the divisional round, beating the Bills 22-19.

Despite the highlight, Watson did not have his best game against the Bills. While his final stat line (20-of-25, 247 yards, one touchdown, zero picks) looks solid enough, Watson was sacked a whopping seven times—and more than a few came on plays when he held onto the ball for too long. He also rushed an incredible 14 times, mostly on scrambles when he couldn’t find players downfield. At halftime, he had 49 yards and his offense had zero points. It was not always so special.

But some players just have it. And Watson has a history of showing up when it counts. That goes all the way to his college days, when he won a national championship with Clemson, of course, and it showed up again on Saturday afternoon. On a day when little was going right for Houston, Watson dragged the team to the divisional round.

That overtime escape act wasn’t Watson’s only critical play that helped bring Houston come back from a 16-point deficit. With under two minutes left in the third quarter, Watson finally got the Texans on the board with a 20-yard designed run:

When Watson gets a head full of steam, he seems to have as much power as any running back in the NFL. He rolled through Bills safety Jordan Poyer in the above clip, contacting him around the 6-yard line but still barrelling ahead to break the plan of the end zone.

On the very next play, Watson kept the ball again—this time on what looked like a scramble—to punch in a two-point conversion and put the Texans within one possession. All of a sudden, the game had turned on its head.

On Watson’s next possession, he led a 27-yard field goal drive after a Bills fumble. He followed that up with a 69-yard scoring drive, in which he hit Carlos Hyde for a 5-yard score and then found DeAndre Hopkins for a two-point conversion. With 4:37 left in the game, the Texans had their first lead of the night.

Of course, the comeback wasn’t solely due to Watson. The Texans defense shut down the Bills offense in the second half (and they had help from some deeply confusing and disastrous decisions by Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen), and Hopkins finally woke up after a nearly invisible first half. Watson could have played better in the first three quarters. But the comeback wouldn’t have been remotely possible without Houston’s Houdini-esque playmaker—the type of special player who can truly make something out of nothing.

Since their creation in 2002, the Texans have never been past the divisional round of the playoffs. They’ll be large underdogs in their next game, when they travel to take on either the Ravens or Chiefs (they beat the Chiefs 31-24 in October when Patrick Mahomes was hobbled, but lost to the Ravens 41-7 in November). But with Watson, anything is possible. He’s one of the must-watch playmakers in football—and he just might have enough magic to drag the Texans further than they’ve ever been before.