Deshaun Watson had his worst performance of the season against the Buffalo Bills, but the Texans defense and special teams made plays when it mattered most, willing the Texans to a 20-13 victory. At 3-3, Houston has moved into a tie for first place in the AFC South with the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars after starting the 2018 season with three consecutive losses.
Deshaun Watson was indecisive against this highly-ranked Bills defense, throwing for 177 yards with 1 touchdown to 2 interceptions. He fumbled twice on the day and lost one, and was sacked seven times. After being questionable all week, Watson rarely moved out of the pocket and finished the game with 2 rush attempts for 2 yards. His first interception was another heave into double coverage in the end zone, his 5th such interception this season. He’s thrown an interception in 8 consecutive games dating back to last season, the longest such streak in the NFL.
Julien Davenport made Bills defensive end Kyle Williams look like J.J. Watt. The Texans’ left tackle once again struggled to show he’s capable of starting in the NFL. The rest of the line had decent days, all allowing pressures, but only Davenport and Lamm allowing sacks—three of which were on Watson.
DeAndre Hopkins made an incredible catch for a touchdown but was held in check by Bills corner Tre’Davious White. Outside of Hopkins, none of the Texans’ receivers contributed much at all—Will Fuller and Keke Coutee combined for just 60 yards on the day. The running game was ineffective yet again and likely won’t see help from D’Onta Foreman until after the team’s bye week.
Defense and Special Teams
On special teams, the Texans blocked and recovered a punt as well as recovered a muffed punt. Both recoveries were made by linebacker Brennan Scarlett. Both turnovers resulted in points. Without such a strong special teams performance—the Texans are 2-4.
J.J. Watt picked up his league-leading seventh sack of the season against the Bills, showing us that he’s still the Watt we know and love. Whitney Mercilus had his best game of the season with 4 tackles and a tackle for a loss. Both Benardrick McKinney and Zach Cunningham had solid games with 12 and 13 tackles respectively.
The stars of the day for this defense were Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph—both of whom delivered clutch interceptions when the defense needed it most. When the game was tied at 13 with the 4th quarter winding down, Johnathan Joseph played a curl route perfectly and took his interception of Bills’ backup quarterback Nathan Peterman to the house for the deciding score of the game. The Texans narrowly avoided a third consecutive overtime game and moved to 3-3 on the season behind a strong showing from their old-timers on defense in Watt, Jackson and Joseph.
The Texans will face the 3-3 Jacksonville Jaguars this week coming off an embarrassing 40-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. If the Texans win and the Titans lose, Houston will stand alone atop the AFC South heading into the midway point of the season. Blake Bortles has struggled of late, however, it’s hard to imagine the Jaguars’ defense not taking advantage of the Texans’ offensive line.