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Texans top Bills in OT to advance to Divisional Round

What a comeback. The Houston Texans rallied from a 16-point deficit in the second half before edging the Buffalo Bills in overtime, 22-19, in Saturday's wild-card game at NRG Stadium.

The AFC South champs move on to face the No. 2 seed Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round next Sunday. Here's what we learned from the Texans' win:

  1. A wild game ended the only way it could in overtime, with a signature Deshaun Watson moment setting up a Ka'imi Fairbairn chip-shot game-winning field goal. The magical quarterback waved his wand, somehow escaping a sure sack, to find running back Taiwan Jones, who scampered 34 yards to the 10-yard-line. It was fitting that Watson made the play of the game after he carried his team back from a 16-0 deficit. The Texans had a chance to win the game in regulation, but Watson was stuffed on fourth-and-1 at the 30-yard-line up 19-16 after Bill O'Brien eschewed a field-goal attempt. Josh Allen responded by driving the Bills into field-goal range to send the tilt to overtime. Watson's heroics helped Houston overcome a double-digit deficit for the first time in franchise playoff history. Apt that the W came from Watson's wizardry.
  1. The Texans looked dead in the water for more than two and a half quarters, getting pummeled on both sides of the ball. Houston was limp on offense, generating just 81 first-half yards. The defense couldn't tackle a two-year-old in space. Then J.J. Watt woke up a sleepwalking fossil. The defensive end came streaking off the edge to sack Josh Allen and force a Bills field goal early in the second half. The Texans were still down 16-0 at that point. Then Watson took the team on his shoulders. After a wayward game to that point, in which the QB looked rattled and threw a bevy of off-target passes, Watson powered Houston down the field. Capped off with a powering 20-yard TD run that saw Watson carry defenders into the end zone, the Texans were back in business. DeAndre Hopkins, who was silenced in the first half with zero catches and fumbled on his first reception of the third quarter, came to life and picked up chunk gains, finishing with six catches for 90 yards, including a key 41-yard bomb. Missing the deep shots early sans Will Fuller, Watson used his legs in the second half, leading Houston with 55 rushing yards on 14 attempts. Watson proved he could spark life in a decaying squad with his arm and legs. The comeback engineered by the charmed QB was a wonder to watch, given how limp his team looked for the first 40 minutes of action.
  1. The world got the full Josh Allen experience Saturday. The Bills QB blasted off with a hot start, rushing for a 42-yard gain and caught a TD on the first possession. Buffalo OC Brian Daboll did a marvelous job early using misdirection and getting Allen out of the pocket to protect the young signal-caller in his first playoff game. Allen looked poised early, threw several darts, and helped guide the offense up-and-down the field against a lifeless Texans defense in the first half. The QB, however, dodged several bullets early, including two potential pick-sixes and a fumble. With the Bills unable to put the game away, settling for three field goals, a discombobulated Allen emerged late. His fumble near midfield helped fuel a Texans comeback. Back-to-back plays losing 33 yards -- an intentional grounding and 19-yard sack on fourth down -- after Buffalo got into field-goal range to potentially tie seemed to doom the Bills. After the D got a fourth-down stop, however, Allen helped sprint his team into field-goal range. On that drive, Allen made a head-scratching decision to pitch it on a long run. Luckily that decision didn't burn the QB, as he made a few nice strikes to generate the tie in regulation. Alas, despite converting three third-and-longs in OT, it wasn't enough for Buffalo. The roller-coaster day from Allen showed the good he brings with his legs (92 yards on nine rushes) and bright spots with his arm. The young signal-caller showed he has plenty of room to grow after his first playoff disappointment.
  1. J.J. Watt returned this week from a pectoral injury to much fanfare. The defensive end was mostly quiet in the first half, playing just 16 of 36 plays and generating zero stats in the box score. In the second half and overtime, Houston unleashed the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. He made a massive difference. Playing 34 of 44 plays in the second half and overtime, Watt earned the aforementioned huge sack, two QB hits, a tackle for loss, and a boatload of pressures. Along with Whitney Mercilus, the pass rush coming to life in the second-half transformed the Houston D, and it rattled Allen. The Texans defense missed a cornucopia of tackles all game, giving up 425 total yards. That unit will be in for a tougher battle in the Divisional Round, but having Watt back is clearly a difference-maker.
  1. Sean McDermott's defense was the best unit on the field almost all game. The Bills D flabbergasted Watson most of the bout and pummeled the Texans' offensive line. Jerry Hughes (three sacks) and Trent Murphy (two sacks) played with their hair on fire. Young linebacker Tremaine Edmunds was all over the field, collecting a sack, two QB hits, and a whopping 12 tackles. Fellow linebacker Matt Milano also gobbled up 12 tackles and was a maven shot out of a cannon on blitzes. The secondary slowed Hopkins the entire first half and gave up few big plays. Like most mortals, however, they couldn't hold down Watson all day. Not getting enough help from their offense was a theme of the Bills' 2019 season. Appropriately, it ended with another round of that melody. Buffalo generated 12 QB hits and sacked Watson seven times. Unfortunately, it was that eighth sack Watson wiggled out of that made the difference.
  1. With the Tennessee Titans beating the New England Patriots in Foxboro on Saturday night, the Texans will travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs on Sunday, Jan. 12 at 3:05 p.m. ET. Houston beat the Chiefs 31-24 in Week 6 at Arrowhead Stadium. In that October game, Carlos Hyde rushed for 116 yards and a TD on 26 attempts.
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