AFC Wildcard Weekend: Houston Texans – 22 Buffalo Bills – 17
So close, Bills Mafia. So close. Young Josh Allen (24/46 264 yards, 92 yards rushing) and the Bills got out to a 13-0 halftime lead, then scored first to make it 16-0 more than halfway through the third quarter. Buffalo looked poised to win their first playoff game since 1995, and the Mafia could be heard from Buffalo to Texas.
Then Deshaun Watson (20/25 247 yards, TD) did what great young quarterbacks do. He brought the Texans back in a big way, scoring nineteen unanswered points to take the lead. The return of J.J. Watt would be enough of a spark to ignite the Texans defense in key moments. Allen and the Bills lost thirty-five yards on two plays late with an intentional grounding and a monster sack. They’d get the ball back and force overtime with a last-minute field goal in regulation, but the fireworks were spent. After trading punts with Houston, Buffalo’s top-three defense allowed a nine play, seventy-three-yard drive that ended with a Kai Fairbarn field goal to seal the deal.
This brings us to a marvelous statistic about Deshaun Watson. Despite being sacked seven, I repeat, seven times on Saturday, Watson has never lost to a team that ranks in the top five in passing defense. He’s 6-0. Let that sink in because it’s a crazy stat. Did Watson kill the Bills with his legs? Maybe a little, he did lead Houston rushers with fifty-five yards and a TD, but he was also really accurate, completing eighty percent of his passes.
This game also marks the first time that DeAndre Hopkins showed up in the playoffs, catching six of eight passes thrown his way for ninety yards. He’d never caught for more than seventy in a playoff game before. It’s a nice comeback win for the Texans, but I can’t help feeling that they’ll be overmatched against a rested Chiefs team next weekend.
One sideline point from the game. Buffalo did not get jobbed to start the second half, even though it kind of looked that way. When Buffalo kicked off, Houston returner DeAndre Carter chose to give the “fair catch” wave before handling the ball, instead of the more common catching, then taking a knee in the endzone. He then casually tossed the ball to a ref, who, because he was unaccustomed to seeing players treat kickoffs that way, acted like it was a live ball. It wasn’t, since “fair catch” applies to both punts and kickoffs but is almost never used in the end zone. Once the signal is given, the ball is dead as soon as the catch is completed. Buffalo fans may be salty after having the touchdown overturned and then blowing the second half lead, but there’s no conspiracy here.
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Image Source: AP Images