This is a hard thing to explain but also not a hard thing to explain, so let me tell it to you by not talking directly about it while also talking directly about it.
The Texans, who had done what felt like a whole lot of nothing against the Patriots all afternoon Sunday in their first game of the 2018 season, forced New England to punt in the final moments of the fourth quarter. Doing so gave them (somehow) one final chance to either tie or win the game (they were down 27-20), which, while not technically “impossible,” was basically impossible because nobody’s told Bill O’Brien yet that you’re actually allowed to beat the Patriots (the Texans are now 0-5 against New England under O’Brien).
But so the Texans defense held and the Patriots had to punt the ball back to them. After they ran down as much of the clock as they could, Ryan Allen, punter for the Patriots and lackey for the devil, boomed it a billion miles up into the atmosphere and also a billion miles down the field, kicking it exactly and perfectly perfect. The Patriots’ Jonathan Jones, who I did not know before this play but who I hated immediately after it, downed the ball at the 1-yard line. And so the Texans—my beloved Texans—were looking at (a) having to go literally as far as it is possible to go to score a touchdown from a dead ball; (b) having to do so with only 43 seconds left; (c) having to do so with zero timeouts; and (d) having to do so against the New England defense, which had given up only 162 yards passing for the entire game. It was an entirely impractical and unenviable spot to be in (Pro-Football-Reference’s Win Probability Calculator had the Patriots in that moment as the 99 percent favorite), and one that no fan would ever want their team to be in.
But here’s the important part, and really the entire point of this article: Before that final drive started—which, let me tell you right now, ended up being more of a whole lot of nothing—but before that final drive started, I sat up on my couch a little bit, zoomed my eyes tight onto the screen, and said very clearly and with no small amount of confidence, “Let’s go, Deshaun.”
Because I really thought that if anyone could wiggle their way out of that particular coffin, it would be Deshaun Watson, who spent the first half of his rookie season last year setting himself up to obliterate virtually every rookie quarterback record before tearing his ACL.
Because that’s just the kind of hope that he inspires.
I actually wrote about the whole He Gives Us Hope angle last season when Watson went down for the year, and I was very curious to see whether it would feel the same way this season as it did last season, when we watched him set everything on fire. And I am happy to say that, yes, for sure, no question: It still feels like that. It might even feel more like that, assuming that’s even possible. Because he definitely was not good in the 27-20 defeat to New England (he rightfully asked to be blamed for the loss in the postgame presser), but there was still light, still oxygen, still expectation, still ambition in that last possession.
And so let me say: It felt a lot like everything went wrong for the Texans against the Patriots, but Deshaun is back so it’s fine.
And let me say: The very first play on offense for the Texans on Sunday, in fact, ended with a lost fumble on their own 22-yard line (which the Patriots quickly converted into a touchdown), and starting your year off with a fumble on your first offensive possession could otherwise be seen as a terrible omen, but Deshaun is back so it’s fine.
And let me say: The Texans had the ball eight times during the first half, and ended up with one fumble, one interception, two field goals, and three punts, and one kneel-down to end the half. It was a disaster, absolutely, and wildly frustrating, also absolutely. But Deshaun is back so it’s fine.
And let me say: One of those aforementioned field goals came after a turnover by the Patriots. The Texans started with the ball on the Patriots’ 17-yard line. Three plays later, the Texans were on the Patriots’ 24-yard line. They legit drove negative-7 yards to score, which has to be the lowest number of yards any NFL team has ever gone to score. That’s a hilarious stat if you’re a Patriots fan. And a dumb stat if you are a Texans fan. But Deshaun is back so it’s fine.
And let me say: Deshaun had a 62.9 passer rating for the game, and that’s obviously not good, but Deshaun is back, and that’s obviously good, so it’s fine.
More and more and more.
On and on and on.
You get the point.
The Texans lost their first game of the season Sunday.
But it’s fine.
Because Deshaun Watson is back.
And that’s plenty enough right now.
It’s all of it, actually.