The Houston Texans have multiple superstar playmakers on both sides of the football, and the Buffalo Bills...well, don’t. However, the Bills were able to stop those superstars for the majority of Sunday’s 20-13 loss to Houston. Buffalo’s unheralded defense was especially brilliant, holding Houston’s offense to its lowest total yardage number (216) of the season.
While Buffalo’s defensive stars shined brightly, its offensive players continued to perform poorly. However, there were multiple players on the offense who contributed to what could have been a solid, if ugly and unspectacular, victory.
Here is how the Texans we watched fared this past weekend.
QB Deshaun Watson
The Bills were able to rattle and confuse Houston’s young quarterback all afternoon, holding him to one of his worst games as a professional. The Bills mixed their coverages beautifully, and their pressure fronts allowed them to sack Watson seven times. Six Buffalo players had at least half a sack in the game. The Bills also forced Watson to throw two interceptions and fumble three times. Buffalo was only able to recover one of the fumbles. Watson completed 60% of his passes (15-for-25) for 177 yards, one touchdown, and those two interceptions. His chest injury may have contributed to a lack of mobility from the speedy quarterback, as he looked hesitant to do anything other than buy time to throw all day. He only ran twice on the afternoon, gaining two yards total.
WR DeAndre Hopkins
Houston’s best wideout (and arguably the NFL’s best receiver) had his worst overall day of the season. Hopkins was only targeted six times, and he caught five passes for 53 yards. All of those numbers are season-low totals, as Buffalo’s Tre’Davious White matched up with Hopkins for most of the day. Hopkins did draw three holding flags on White, and he also managed to catch a touchdown on a beautiful back-shoulder throw in the first quarter. “Nuk” is a hard guy to stop, and White did a fairly good job of at least containing the big-time receiver.
DE J.J. Watt
The league’s leading sack master added to his total on Sunday, taking down Josh Allen in notching his seventh sack of the year. The sack was Watt’s only tackle for loss on the day, and he notched just three stops overall. All things considered, Buffalo fared well in slowing down one of the most fearsome defensive players in the league.
DE Jadeveon Clowney
The Bills had similar success in slowing Clowney, who only managed one tackle in the game—though it was a stop for a loss. Buffalo did a nice job overall protecting the quarterback, as Josh Allen was only sacked twice. Houston leads the league in quarterback hits by a wide margin, notching 65 on the season. The Cleveland Browns are second with 46. On Sunday, the Bills only allowed four hits to their quarterbacks, although one of them was enough to knock Allen from the game.
T Julie’n Davenport/T Martinas Rankin
The Texans’ young tackles really struggled with Buffalo’s blitzes. Head coach Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier dialed up pressure from all angles, bringing safeties, corners, linebackers, and everything except the kitchen sink at Deshaun Watson. The result was seven sacks and 15 hits on the quarterback, bringing Buffalo’s totals in each category to 24 (third in the league) and 37 (sixth in the league), respectively. Buffalo had 14.5 tackles for loss, as well. Basically, the Bills lived in the Houston backfield all day, so it’s hard to blame only the Texans’ tackles, but the two young players were a big part of the reason Houston’s offense struggled so mightily.