Deshaun Watson used his brains, his right arm, and his legs to guide the Texans to a win over Tennessee on Monday Night Football.
The second-year quarterback tossed for two scores, ran for another, and didn't turn the ball over in the 34-17 victory. The team's eighth straight win was a runaway, as Watson and company took a double-digit lead with 9:22 remaining in the second half, and kept a 10-point or larger cushion for the rest of the evening.
When the proverbial dust settled on Watson's night, he'd completed 19-of-24 passes for 210 yards and gained 70 yards on nine carries.
Watson started the Texans scoring when he found Demaryius Thomas for a 12-yard touchdown at the 5:21 mark in the opening quarter. That score, and Ka'imi Fairbairn's extra point pulled the Texans to within 3.
Later in the quarter, they took the lead for good when Watson faked a handoff to the right to Lamar Miller, kept the ball, and scooted 15 yards around the corner for a touchdown. It gave the Texans a 14-10 advantage with 14:53 left in the second quarter. It capped off a 5-play drive that covered 60 yards and lasted 1:58. It was the second rushing touchdown of the season for Watson, and fourth of his career.
"The opportunity came and I took advantage of it," Watson said of his scoring run. "I just got to go out there and continue to try to pick our spots in those situations. But, you never know when I’m going to keep the ball.”
Watson's heroics were frustrating for Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel.
"We spied him, rushed him and then sometimes he got out of there," Vrabel said. "It was one of the keys to the game. We felt like we could rush him, but can we get him down. Even when you get him down, it looks like a wrestling match. He’s not going down real easy. He’s going to be a good player in this league for a long time.”
Watson and Thomas linked up again in the fourth quarter for a 10-yard touchdown, which put the Texans up 34-17 with 8:15 left in the contest. It was his 20th touchdown pass of the season.
Head coach Bill O'Brien pointed out the importance of Watson's leadership of the offense, and how vital it's been to the Texans' success.
“He takes a lot of pride in being a field general," O'Brien said. "Our offense is really based on the fact that he is the offensive coordinator on the field. It's very difficult to call basically what I would call a locked play in this day and age of the NFL. You don't really know what you're going to see."
According to the Texans media relations department, Watson became the second player in NFL history to record at least 4,500 yards and 35 passing touchdowns in a player’s first 18 career games, joining Kurt Warner (1998-2000). Watson is the only player in NFL history with at least 4,500 yards, 35 passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns in a player’s first 18 career games.