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The Magic Continues for “Houston Houdini” Deshaun Watson

By Miles Peacock

Wild Card Wow

The world’s greatest magician isn’t performing in front of sold out Las Vegas venues, he’s mystifying national audiences and live crowds on the football field as quarterback for the Houston Texans. Deshaun Watson’s knack for impromptu magic has been a crucial element in the Texans success since he arrived in Houston. Now that the Texans have advanced to the divisional round of the playoffs for the first time with Houdini calling the plays, Watson is eager to show disbelievers that his world-famous play-making is more than a mere parlor trick.

Deshaun Watson #4 dives inside the pylon to convert a critical 2-point conversion (one of two successful tries) during Houston’s 19-22 Overtime Wild Card Playoff win on January 4, 2020 in Houston.

Deshaun Watson astonished viewers in a spectacular come from behind victory that was aided by yet another dazzling escape from the clutches of the improbable. After pulling a disappearing act for the first two and a half quarters, and with the shackles of a 16-0 deficit versus the visiting Buffalo Bills restraining him, Houston’s “Wizard of Wow” magically engineered 19 unanswered points out of thin air. Knotted up at 19 at the end of regulation, Watson then proceeded to the grande finale in overtime, what I would call his version of Harry Houdini’s Belly of a Whale Escape (look it up).

Would-be tacklers Matt Milano (LB # 58) and Siran Neal (S #33) both blitz Deshaun Watson untouched off the edge and deliver booming shots only to be left watching from the turf in disbelief as the Houston QB fled their grasps in overtime during the Wild Card round of the 2019 playoffs.

Watson produced what coach Bill O’Brien called only his second most exciting getaway of the season. In the waning moments of overtime Watson eluded a 5 man rush plus 2 blitzing Bills for a 34 yard pick-up to setup a game winning 28 yard field goal. Watson escaped not one, but two sacks and fled towards the right sideline where he found a waiting Taiwan Jones (former Buffalo Bill) who did the rest. Fans have come to expect at least one miraculous play per game from the great showman, and Watson seems poised to deliver. Watson had 247 passing yards and rushed for another 55 on the ground, finishing with both a rushing and a passing score as well as a 2-point conversion in his first playoff win. By the way, HC Bill O’Brien’s favorite Watson play this season was against Oakland where the quarterback was spun around and kicked in the eye before he broke the pocket and found tight end Darren Fells for a miraculous game winning touchdown.

The Texans are now 4-2 in 6 Wild Card appearances during their short history, but will need a bit of magic to shake the bad juju of an 0-3 record in the divisional round.

Second Act

Watson and company take the show on the road to Arrowhead where they will attempt to abracadabra the Kansas City Chiefs out of the second act of the postseason. It will also be the second time the Texans travel to Arrowhead this season, the first being a 31 to 24 victory for Houston back in Week 6.

KANSAS CITY, MO – OCTOBER 13: Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans talks with quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs after beating the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on October 13, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)

It would not be wise to try and take too much away from the previous game as potential foreshadowing of things to come in this week’s divisional playoff match. The situation earlier in the season obviously had less pressure built in and both ball clubs have undergone a few changes since. Chiefs coach Andy Reid mentioned in a press conference earlier this week,”every team changes throughout the season, they develop their personality and we’ve all got the highs and the lows and then you work through that and here you sit”, in regards to how much the teams have changed since their first meeting.

“every team changes throughout the season, they develop their personality and we’ve all got the highs and the lows and then you work through that and here you sit”

– Andy Reid

The last time out Houston was able to best KC. Watson went 30-42 for 280 yards and 1 TD and 2 INTs, while Mahomes went 19-35, 273 yards, 1 INT and 3 TDs. The difference being, as usual, Watson’s elusiveness as he rushed 10 times for 42 yards and an additional 2 scores. Mahomes carried the ball once for -1 yard. Kansas City had a vanishing act of their own, in total the Chiefs only rushed the ball 11 times for 53 yards and 0 rushing scores in that contest.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) celebrates his touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the second half of an NFL football game in Kansas City, Mo., Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

While the teams may have changed and found their respective personalities, the signal callers have always been entertaining showmen. Whether it be Mahomes’ laser-precision coupled with sidearm no-look throws or Watson’s death defying escapism, fans can expect one of the greatest shows on Earth anytime these two lace-up their cleats and take the stage.

Patrick Mahomes set the league on fire when he first arrived in 2017. Deshaun Watson was also off to a hot start before an injury cut his rookie season short. Mahomes (10) and Watson (12) were both first round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft.
(Getty Images/Ringer illustration)

If you were to re-write the 1995 novel by Christopher Priest, The Prestige, the rival magicians The Great Danton and The Professor could very easily be transposed with Watson and Mahomes. Much like the characters in the novel, the divisional story line between the two quarterbacks is dominated by obsession, secrecy and sacrifice that has fueled a new age rivalry among them. It would be safe to assume these dueling wizards of the gridiron will continue to entrance audiences with their nearly supernatural abilities for the foreseeable future.

The next show starts Sunday January 12th as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans in the divisional round of the 2020 NFL Playoffs. Lets take a look at the 2019 season performances from both awe-inspiring signal callers below.

War of the Wands: 2019 Quarterback Season Total Ranks

Deshaun Watson (101.0) and Patrick Mahomes (108.9) own the two highest passer ratings over the first 3 seasons of their career in NFL History.
  • Games Played: Watson 15 / Mahomes 14
  • Pass Completions: Watson 353 (10th) / Mahomes 319 (16th)
  • Pass Attempts: Watson 520 (13th) / Mahomes 484 (19th)
  • Pass Yards: Watson 4099 (8th) / Mahomes 4031 (11th)
  • Pass TDs: Watson 27 (Tied for 6th Wentz, Cousins, Garoppolo) / Mahomes 26 (Tied for 10th Ryan, Rodgers)
  • INTs: Watson 12 (11th) / Mahomes 5 (29th)
  • Pass Completion %: Watson 67.9% (6th) [on the Road 68.8% (7th)] / Mahomes 65.9% (10th) [at Home 63.3% (19th)]
  • Yards Per Pass thrown: Watson 7.9 (10th) / Mahomes 8.3 (4th)
  • Longest Pass: Watson 54 yards (33rd) / Mahomes (Tied 7th L. Jackson) 83 yards
  • Sacks: Watson 51 (1st) / Mahomes 17 (31st)
  • Sack Yards Lost: Waston 285 (6th) / Mahomes 127 (31st)
  • Net Pass Yards: Watson 3814 (10th) / Mahomes 3904 (8th)
  • Net Pass Yards Per Play: Watson 6.7 (14th) / Mahomes 7.8 (Tied 1st – Tannehill)
  • QB Rating: All Games – Watson 99.2 (11th) on the Road 93 (15th) / Mahomes 105.3 (7th) at Home 101.7 (9th)
  • Rush Attempts: Watson 82 / Mahomes 43
  • Rush Yards: Watson 413 / Mahomes 218
  • Rush TDs: Watson 7 / Mahomes 2

About the author: Miles Peacock covers the Houston Texans for various websites, including Timeskewed.com, and fantasy football related networks. He hosts The Fantasy Football Flex on ‘Em Podcast during the 16 week long fantasy season and is an occasional panelist Friday evenings on the Rumboyz After Dark Sports Talk Show. Follow Miles on Twitter @FF_Peacock

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