Because Deshaun Watson was a star at Clemson and had a seamless transition to being a fantastic quarterback in the NFL, it seems he’s been playing longer than he has.
This is just year three for the Houston Texans quarterback. Watson led his Texans to a second straight AFC South championship and Houston will face the Buffalo Bills in the first game of the NFL playoffs, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app.
We’re way, way too early into Watson’s career to talk about legacies. But they’re built on playoff games, and you never know how many you’ll have. Watson is very good, but young quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson have blown past him to become the darlings of the league.
Narratives change with playoff runs, though it will be a big challenge for Watson on Saturday.
Bills played well against Deshaun Watson before
The Bills are very good on defense, and Watson knows that firsthand. The Bills have plenty of young stars. Buffalo was second in the NFL in points allowed and third in yards allowed. Their best player is probably cornerback Tre’Davious White, and his matchup against Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins will be fascinating.
On Oct. 14, 2018, the Bills made life tough for Watson. They sacked him seven times. Watson had 177 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Texans won because Nathan Peterman — in the game for an injured Josh Allen — threw a late pick-six.
Teams change a lot from season to season, so maybe there’s not a lot to take from that game. But the Bills are still well aware that they need to slow down Watson to win.
“He presents a lot of different problems,” Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “His throwing ability, along with his escape ability as well. There are times you watch him on tape where it looks like people have him hemmed up and somehow, some way he gets out of it and on the run he makes some very accurate throws.
“He’s really the straw that stirs the drink for their offense. You’ve got to find a way to contain him. If not, it can be a long day, he just can hurt you in so many different ways.”
Bills going for first playoff win in a long time
Watson had a good season, but his numbers were mostly similar to last season with a few more interceptions and slight downticks in other categories. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the breakout some anticipated. But with an iconic playoff performance or two it will seem like a big breakout season.
It’s not only a big game for Watson, but for Allen too. Allen, who came along well in his second season quarterbacking the Bills, is making his first postseason appearance.
The Bills are still starving for playoff success. They did break a long playoff drought two seasons ago, but lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars. That was their first playoff game since losing to the Titans in the “Music City Miracle” game the end of the 1999 season. The Bills still haven’t won a playoff game since 1995.
They’ll have a chance on Saturday. Buffalo had a fine season and seems to be a team on the rise. With a playoff win or two, they can establish themselves as a potential contender to the AFC East title in 2020 — and it has been a long time since anyone has made a legitimate run at the New England Patriots.
To get their first playoff win in more than 24 years, the Bills know their top priority is slowing down Watson. That won’t be easy.
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