Deshaun Watson made one big play after another to rally the Houston Texans back from a 13-point deficit to take the lead only to watch the defense let it slip away.
The Texans missed an opportunity to clinch the AFC South and lost control of the No. 2 seed when Jake Elliott kicked a 35-yard field goal as time expired to give the Philadelphia Eagles a 32-30 victory on Sunday.
Houston would secure the division title with a victory against Jacksonville next week. They need the Patriots to lose or tie to get a first-round bye.
“We just have to go out there and win next week,” J.J. Watt said after being held to only three tackles and no sacks. “We can’t worry about anything else.”
Watson was 29 of 40 for 339 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 49 yards and two scores.
Down 29-16 in the fourth quarter, the Texans started their comeback after recovering Josh Adams’ fumble. Watson threw a 14-yard TD to DeAndre Hopkins to cut the deficit to 29-23 with 4:48 left and the Texans got the ball back at their 20 after a three-and-out.
Watson made an incredible escape on third-and-11 and threw 22 yards to Jordan Akins for a first down at the Philadelphia 34.
On third-and-11, he hit Vyncint Smith deep in the back of the end zone. Smith made an outstanding catch, and dragged his feet to stay inbounds.
“He played great the last two drives,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s just got incredible instincts, he sees things well, he hangs in there, he’s tough. The football field for him is heaven on earth. Obviously we have a strong belief in him and what he can do.”
The Texans had a tough time moving the ball until the fourth quarter and the absence of Lamar Miller hurt their rushing attack. Alfred Blue and D’Onta Foreman had 13 yards on 11 carries.
“I think the ball in (Watson’s) hands is the best thing for our offense and for our football team,” O’Brien said. “But we have to figure out how to run the ball better. I have to figure it out because it hasn’t been good enough.”
Watt and the rest of Houston’s defense blamed themselves for the loss after giving up 519 yards and allowing the Eagles to go 4 for 4 on fourth downs.
“I’ll put that on my shoulders,” Watt said. “The offense did a great job giving us a chance, and we just didn’t get a stop at the end. I’ll take that as a leader of the defense. We have to get a stop.”
The Texans could still miss the playoffs if they slip up against the Jaguars.
“As long as we get in, then it’s a new season,” Watson said. “My mentality is whoever we have to play, wherever we have to play, we are going to play all four quarters. All that stuff is irrelevant. We have to focus on Jacksonville, get everyone healthy and try to win the next game and see what happens.”
The Texans lost wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (right leg) and cornerbacks Kareem Jackson (knee) and Kayvon Webster (thigh) in the game. Thomas was carted off the field in the fourth quarter and his injury appeared most serious.
Source: The Associated Press