Texans edge Bills in NFL playoff OT thriller


Washington (AFP)

Deshaun Watson ran for one touchdown and threw for another, then made a stunning play to set up the winning kick Saturday in Houston's 22-19 NFL playoff victory over Buffalo.

Deep into over-time, Texans quarterback Watson escaped two Bills defenders set to sack him and flipped a short pass to Taiwan Jones, who ran 34 yards to the Buffalo 10-yard line.

On the next play, Houston's Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a 28-yard field goal 11:40 into the extra period to give the hosts a dramatic first-round triumph.

"Man, just never quit. honestly," Watson said. "I just told myself to stay up. It's do or die right now. All the work I put in in the off season, I had to get it done."

Watson completed 20-of-25 passes for 247 yards, ran 14 times for 55 yards and rallied the Texans from a 16-0 deficit, the first time in 23 tries under coach Bill O'Brien that Houston had escaped so huge a hole to win.

"I knew somebody had to be great. I said, 'Why not me?'" Watson said.

"We never quit. Whatever it takes to get the win, we keep fighting and we will always give our best."

The Texans gave themselves a berth in next weekend's second round of the NFL playoffs, when they will visit either American Conference top seed Baltimore or second seed Kansas City.

The outcome of Saturday's other NFL playoff game between New England and Tennessee will determine who Houston will meet.

Buffalo kept Watson to a career low 62 first-half total yards as the Bills seized a 13-0 half-time edge, but could not capture their first playoff victory since 1995.

"With this team, all you need is a little bit of a spark. That's all you need when Deshaun Watson is your quarterback, said Houston star defender J.J. Watt, back after missing two months with a torn pectoral muscle.

"This is why you come back -- these feelings, these emotions, all the guys on this team."

Buffalo's Stephen Hauschka kicked his fourth field goal of the day from 47 yards with five seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to pull the Bills level at 19-19 and set up over-time.

Each team suffered a stalled drive in over-time before Watson directed Houston's decisive nine-play, 73-yard final scoring march.

- Bills dominate early -

Bills quarterback Josh Allen sparked a touchdown on Buffalo's opening drive with a 42-yard run around right end to the Houston 20-yard line.

Two plays later, receiver John Brown faked a reverse run and threw back across the field to unguarded Allen, who ran to the end zone to complete a 16-yard touchdown play.

Hauschka added the conversion kick as well as two 40-yard field goals in the second quarter and a 38-yarder in the third quarter for a 16-0 lead.

Houston answered with a nine-play, 75-yard touchdown march capped by a 20-yard scoring run by Watson, who ran the last six yards with two defenders upon him.

Watson then added a crucial two-point conversion run, going around the right end and stretching the ball over the line before being knocked out of bounds to trim Buffalo's lead to 16-8.

Houston's Whitney Mercilus sacked Allen and forced a fumble the Texans recovered to set up Fairbairn's 41-yard fourth-quarter field goal that lifted the hosts within 16-11.

DeAndre Hopkins caught a 41-pass from Watson to the Bills 28 and five plays later Watson flipped a 5-yard touchdown pass to Carlos Hyde to give the Texans their first lead.

Watson connected with Hopkins on a critical 2-point conversion pass to give the Texans a 19-16 edge before Hauschka forced over-time.