Deshaun Watson received sage advice at the start of the season.
During a Week 1 television production meeting, Tony Romo told Watson what young quarterbacks struggle with the most early in their careers.
The former All-Pro quarterback-turned-football analyst told Watson to focus on improving his awareness during as many different situations that could arise in game.
"Ever since then, those situations that came down to the wire, those first three games that didn't go our way, that really stuck with me," Watson said Wednesday. "So being able to focus on that, protect the ball, play within the system, and be able to make plays when I need to, and then when it comes down the stretch, take care of the ball and put ourselves in a position to win is very big."
One game in particular stands out to Watson. He still has regrets about the ending of the Texans game at Nashville on Sept. 16. On the final play of the game, Watson scrambled before connecting with DeAndre Hopkins for a 31-yard gain in the middle of the field. With no timeouts left, time expired and the Texans fell 20-17 to the Titans.
"Week 2 on the road, I had the ball with 17 seconds left," Watson said. "That could have gotten us a couple of yards, probably could have gone to overtime or kicked a field goal – I can't remember the score – but I knew we could have had had a chance of kicking a field goal or getting the ball into the endzone."
Watson has taken Romo's advice to heart. While a veteran quarterback learns about situational football from experience, Watson hopes to learn from mental reps. Every time he watches a game, he is adding to his own database of situations and how he would handle them. He won't let lack of experience stop him from practicing as many situations as he can.
"I try to put myself in those shoes of every quarterback, not just guys that played in the league for a long time, but young guys," Watson said. "Situations with Patrick Mahomes where (Kansas City) played Baltimore. Fourth-and-9, I think, and he made a good play. They kind of capitalized on that to get their team an opportunity to win. Every week it comes down to the wire so I don't watch games to watch, I watch it and put myself in those positions because I want to play this game for a long time and sooner or later I'm going to be in those positions."
Watson is tied with Drew Brees for the most game-winning drives this season (5). Through 14 games this season, Watson has recorded 3,592 passing yards, 24 passing touchdowns, 436 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. He joins Panthers QB Cam Newton (2017-18) and Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (2017) as the only quarterbacks to compile more than 3,000 passing yards, 400 rushing yards and 20 passing touchdowns in a single season since 2016.
The (10-4) Texans will travel to Philadelphia to take on the (7-7) Eagles on Sunday. Kickoff is set for 12 noon CT on CBS and SportsRadio 610.
Check out the best Week 15 images from Texans team photographer Zach Tarrant. Presented by Houston Methodist.