The Texans beat the Bills in a thrilling 22-19 overtime win to advance to the AFC Divisional Round next week.
Down 16-0 in the third quarter, the Texans pulled off their biggest comeback in playoff history, scoring 19 straight points and making a game-winning field goal in overtime.
"That was some tough sledding there for a long time," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "I think that shows you the heart of this team. We've got a lot to clean up moving forward, but I can say, and I think you guys would agree, that there's a lot of character in that locker room."
In his first game since Oct. 27 against Oakland, J.J. Watt finished with one tackle, 1.0 sack, one tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. He was activated to the 53-man roster this week after missing eight games following pectoral surgery. The third-quarter sack on quarterback Josh Allen sparked three Texans scoring drives resulting in 19 points.
Quarterback Deshaun Watson completed 20-of-25 passes for 247 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 121.2 passer rating. He also rushed 14 times for 55 yards and a score. DeAndre Hopkins caught a team-high six passes for 90 yards.
Benardrick McKinney led the defense with 10 tackles, six solo, and one quarterback hit. Houston's defense had three sacks on Allen, including a strip sack by Whitney Mercilus.
The Bills took an early lead after scoring on the opening drive of the game. On a trick play, wide receiver John Brown threw a touchdown pass to Allen.
Two drives later, Mercilus recovered a fumble by Allen, but the play was overturned. Steven Hauschka kicked a 40-yard field goal and the Bills extended their lead to 10-0 lead in the second quarter.
Houston's defense held Buffalo to another 40-yard field goal after a 15-play, 74-yard drive as the Texans headed into halftime trailing 13-0.
A big play by Watt energized the crowd and appeared to be a turning point for the Texans. Watt's first sack since Week 5 against the Atlanta Falcons came in the third quarter as the Bills were driving down the field. Watt dropped Allen for a loss of eight yards on third-and-8. Buffalo settled for a 38-yard field goal.
The Texans then held Buffalo to just a field goal for the remainder of the game.
Houston's offense gained momentum with a 10-yard run by Duke Johnson to kick off the series. Watson completed passes to Hopkins for a pair of first downs. After Hopkins' second catch, a gain of 10 yards, Watson scrambled 20 yards for Houston's first touchdown of the game. Watson followed up with a run for a successful two-point conversion.
With 14:18 left in the fourth quarter, Mercilus sacked Allen on third-and-8 forcing a fumble, recovered by Martin. The Texans converted the turnover into three points, after a 41-yard field goal by Ka'imi Fairbairn.
"We cleaned some things up, started executing a little bit better and the guys were just making plays out there left and right, and so, that's it," Mercilus said. "It was just stacking on good plays, that's about it."
After holding the Allen and the Bills to a three-and-out on offense, Houston scored again. Watson threw a 41-yard pass to Hopkins on the drive that ended in a five-yard touchdown run by Carlos Hyde. Watson tossed to Hopkins for another successful two-point conversion, and the Texans had their first lead of the game. The eight-play, 74-yard scoring drive put them on top, 19-16.
"When we scored our first (touchdown), things started to roll for us," Hyde said. "Everybody started making plays on offense."
On fourth-and-27, the Bills opted to try to keep their drive alive, but Martin's sack on Allen ended it. Buffalo would get another opportunity with 1:16 left in the game and Hauschka connected on a 47-yard field goal with five seconds left to tie the game 19-19 and send it into overtime.
The Texans won the coin toss and received the ball first to start overtime, but were unable to score on the opening series. The Bills were also forced to punt after a 15-yard penalty on a blindside block had them unable to convert a third-and-24.
Watson's final drive of the game began with a 10-yard completion to Hopkins. Two plays later, Duke Johnson added an 18-yard catch-and-run over the middle. With 4:16 left in overtime, Watson narrowly escaped a pair of Bills defenders to complete a short pass to running back Taiwan Jones. The former Bills player and captain added a 34-yard gain to get Houston into field goal range.
Fairbairn kicked a 28-yard field goal to seal the Texans' 22-19 victory and advance to the Divisional Round.
"Oh my gosh, awesome," Fairbairn said of the game-winning moment. "I can't think of a better game that I've been a part of with a team like this. It's incredible."
The Texans will travel to Kansas City to play the No. 2 Chiefs in the Divisional Round. Kickoff is set for 2:05 p.m. CT on Sunday, January 12.