Deshaun Watson remained brilliant in primetime.
The Texans quarterback steered the Texans to a 28-22 victory over the Patriots on Sunday Night Football at NRG Stadium. It was his sixth win as a starter in eight primetime games with the Texans. He tossed a trio of touchdowns and caught another on a trick play. Watson didn't throw any interceptions and didn't fumble, and now owns a 121.1 passer rating in those eight night games with Houston. He's also thrown 21 touchdowns and been picked off just three times in primetime, with 2,010 passing yards and a 68.4 completion percentage.
"I kind of like the night games," Watson said after the win. "More time for preparation and chill with the fam. Relax my mind."
Watson spread the four scores across each quarter, finding Duke Johnson for a 14-yarder in the first, before hitting Darren Fells for a 13-yarder in the second. After the half, he went 35 yards on a scoring strike to Kenny Stills in the third, and then capped the Texans scoring early in the fourth quarter with a 6-yard touchdown reception from DeAndre Hopkins on a trick play.
At the end of the evening, Watson had carved apart the Patriots with 18-of-25 passes completed for 234 yards and a passer rating of 140.7. New England's defense had allowed just four passing touchdowns on the entire season, and the Texans doubled that total on Sunday night. Even though they were the only game on television, and it was a battle of two division leaders, head coach Bill O'Brien explained that Watson stayed even-keeled.
"The biggest key for Deshaun is that he's the same guy every day," O'Brien said. "He's a very consistent person and he just tries to get better every day, and that's what he's got to do today, tomorrow, moving forward. Every single day is watch the game, where can we improve and then start getting ready for Denver."
While O'Brien hailed Watson's consistency, veteran corner Johnathan Joseph used a different word to describe Watson's performance.
“Brilliance," Joseph said. "The guy goes out there and plays against a team like that, doesn’t make many mistakes, keeps the chains moving and when we need a play he comes up with the play. That’s what you need from your quarterback, a guy that’s going to lead by example at all times.”
Watson's willingness to take shots downfield was at the front of the Patriots' minds heading into the matchup. Despite that, he was able to find Stills for the long score, which came a play after a throw to Will Fuller V was ruled incomplete in the end zone.
"They’re a team that throws the ball down the field a lot," Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty said. "We knew that. But I thought Deshaun Watson did a good job of understanding when to do that, when not, and making even some plays that should have been bad plays where we got good pressure, had a chance to get him in the backfield, broke a tackle, was able to throw the ball away. All of those are winning plays. I thought they did a better job of that."