EditorsNote: Updates with quotes
Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked a walk-off field goal after being set up by Deshaun Watson’s memorable play, capping the Houston Texans’ comeback in a 22-19 overtime victory over the visiting Buffalo Bills in an AFC wild-card game on Saturday.
On the third possession of overtime, Watson avoided two Bills for what would have been an eighth sack before completing a 34-yard pass to Taiwan Jones down to the Buffalo 10-yard line. Fairbairn followed with his 28-yard game-winner at the 3:20 mark.
“Just never quit, honestly,” Watson said afterward on the ESPN broadcast. “I just had to make a play. I told the guys before the game, ‘Let’s be great today.’ Somebody had to be great. Why not me?”
Watson finished 20 of 25 for 247 yards and added a team-high 55 yards rushing. The Texans improved to 1-22 under coach Bill O’Brien when trailing by as many as 16 points, scoring on their second overtime possession after earlier thwarting the Bills and quarterback Josh Allen.
Buffalo forced overtime when Allen led a desperate march that followed a fourth-down stop of Watson. After the Bills moved 41 yards in 11 plays, Stephen Hauschka’s fourth field goal, a 47-yarder, tied it with five seconds left.
Allen finished 24 of 46 for 264 yards and added a game-high 92 rushing yards for Buffalo, which last won a postseason game following the 1995 season.
Down 16-0, Watson produced a 20-yard touchdown run with 1:33 left in the third and a 5-yard scoring pass to Carlos Hyde with 4:37 remaining in regulation to engineer the comeback.
The first score came after a sack by J.J. Watt, playing for the first time since tearing his pectoral muscle in Week 8, on third down that provided the spark midway through the third quarter. Buffalo settled for its third Hauschka kick that bumped the lead to 16. Houston immediately mounted its comeback.
Watson pulled Houston to within 16-6 with his scoring run. His subsequent two-point conversion cut the deficit to one score. Allen then coughed up a fumble forced by Whitney Mercilus and recovered by Jacob Martin to yield a Texans field goal. Watson then led another scoring march, keyed by his 41-yard pass to DeAndre Hopkins, who was held without a catch in the first half.
“You can’t let a team like that hang around,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said afterward. “We had opportunities to go up 20 or so or whatever there, and we didn’t come up with touchdowns. That let them hang around a little bit, and they made some plays in the second half.”
The Bills executed brilliantly on their opening possession, with Allen serving as the focal point. His 42-yard run on a quarterback sweep marked the longest rushing play this season for the Bills, and Allen added 11 passing yards before snagging a 16-yard touchdown from receiver John Brown on a trick play, for his first career reception. Buffalo covered 75 yards over six plays and led 7-0.
Buffalo dominated defensively for the remainder of the half, limiting the Texans to 81 yards while sacking Watson four times. Houston twice crossed midfield in the first quarter only to have those drives sputter.
Defensively, the Texans managed to stall the Bills only once, with cornerback Bradley Roby dropping what would have been a pick-6 and Watt also missing a possible interception.
Despite starting their first-half drives on average at their 12-yard line, the Bills extended to a 13-0 lead by the break by converting 5 of 8 on third downs and mounting scoring marches of 11 and 15 plays that totaled 143 yards. Hauschka closed both possessions with 40-yard field goals.
—Field Level Media