Texans rally past Bills to take playoff opener in OT
Barnburner NFL playoff games between Houston and Buffalo are apparently the rule.
In a roller-coaster AFC wild-card game, the Texans outlasted the Bills 22-19 on Saturday afternoon at NRG Stadium.
77彩票网appKa’imi Fairbairn made a 28-yard field goal with 3:20 left to send the Texans to the next round.
The Texans (11-6) will next play at Kansas City (12-4) at 2:05 p.m. Central time next Sunday in the divisional round. The Texans beat the Chiefs 31-24 on Oct. 13 at Arrowhead Stadium.
For Houston’s long-suffering NFL fans, Saturday's game was particularly sweet payback 27 years and one day after the Oilers blew a 35-3 lead in a 41-38 overtime loss at Buffalo in 1993 that remains the biggest collapse in NFL playoff history.
Turnabout was fair play, with the Texans overcoming a 16-point deficit during the second half. In eerie fashion, this game played out just like the one from 27 years ago: the visitors took a double-digit lead in the second half, the home team rallied to take the lead only to see the guests force extra time before the hosts prevailed in overtime.
On the third possession of overtime, the Texans finally broke the stalemate. On second and 6 from the Bills’ 44, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson bounced off a blitz by Bills safety Siran Neal and also escaped a tackle attempt from linebacker Matt Milano.
Watson then found reserve running back Taiwan Jones for a 34-yard catch and run to the Bills’ 10. Fairbairn booted the winning field goal on the next play to keep the Bills (10-7) searching for their first playoff win since 1995.
Earlier in the drive, Watson, who finished 20-of-25 for 247 yards with one touchdown pass, converted a third-and-18 situation at the Texans’ 19 with a pass to running back Duke Johnson to maintain possession.
The Texans had a chance to put the game away, but Buffalo stopped Watson on a fourth-down quarterback sneak at the Bills’ 30 with 1:16 left. Texans coach Bill O’Brien eschewed a 47-yard field goal attempt that, if successful, would’ve forced the Bills to score a touchdown to win.
77彩票网appGiven another chance, Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen drove his team to the Texans’ 29 in 11 plays. and Stephen Hauschka then made his fourth field goal of the game, a 47-yarder with five seconds left, to force overtime.
77彩票网appWatson gave the Texans their first lead of the game after they got the ball at their own 26-yard line with 9:29 left in the fourth quarter trailing 16-11.
On the second play of the drive, Watson found DeAndre Hopkins for 41 yards up the left sideline to put the Texans at the Bills’ 28.
Six plays later, Watson hit Carlos Hyde coming out of the backfield for a 6-yard touchdown pass to give the Texans their first lead. Watson then found Hopkins for the 2-point conversion and a 19-16 advantage with 4:42 remaining.
Trailing 16-0 late in the third quarter, the Texans finally put together a scoring drive. They went 75 yards in nine plays, with Watson scoring on a 20-yard designed run in which he carried Bills defenders into the end zone the final few yards with 1:33 left in the third.
77彩票网appWatson then ran in the ensuing 2-point conversion to draw the Texans within 16-8.
77彩票网appOn the Bills’ next possession, Whitney Mercilus forced an Allen fumble at midfield that Jacob Martin recovered. The Texans were able to turn that into a 41-yard field goal by Fairbairn to get within 16-11 with 10:59 left in the fourth quarter.
The Bills seized the early momentum during the first half, scoring on their first drive with some bold play-calling.
That included a 42-yard run by Allen to the Houston 20 on a play in which Texans linebacker Brennan Scarlett inexplicably had his back turned to the line of scrimmage at the snap.
Two plays later, wide receiver John Brown threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to an uncovered Allen leaking out of the left side of the formation for a 7-0 lead with 11:41 to go.
The Texans drove into Buffalo territory on each of their first two drives only to punt.
The first possession saw O’Brien challenge a non-call on third down for pass interference only to lose. He then eschewed a 55-yard field goal attempt on fourth down to punt.
The Bills then tacked on two 40-yard field goals by Hauschka during the second quarter, with the second coming with nine seconds left in the half.
77彩票网appAs they left the field, the Texans were booed off the field, as they were during home playoff losses in 2015 and 2018.
After Tre’Davious White forced and Tremaine Edmunds recovered a Hopkins fumble at the Texans’ 38 early in the third quarter, the Bills turned it into another Hauschka field goal, this one from 38 yards with 6:08 left, to up their lead to 16-0.