On Thursday night, Deshaun Watson looked like the player we fell in love with last season.
Maybe we should back that up a bit. If you saw Watson at Clemson and aren’t an Alabama fan, you loved him already. Then he had a dynamic but short rookie season with the Houston Texans and looked like a surefire star before a freak torn ACL in practice.
That’s the player we saw on Thursday night in a 42-23 win over the Miami Dolphins. Watson’s second season hasn’t always been smooth, as he worked back from the ACL injury, played behind a terrible offensive line and then couldn’t even fly on the team plane last week due to lung and rib injuries. He hasn’t been bad, just not the weekly superstar we saw a year ago.
Maybe Watson is all the way back to that form. If so, the Texans might never give up first place in the AFC South.
Deshaun Watson has dominant performance
Watson was in control on Thursday night. He was very efficient, turning his 20 passes into 16 completions, 239 yards and five touchdowns. That’s a 156 passer rating. Part of that was a terrible Dolphins defensive effort, but give credit to Watson for hitting on some huge plays that built a lead.
Watson’s best touchdown pass was his shortest. On a fourth-and-goal at the Miami 2-yard line, with the Texans leading 14-10 early in the third quarter, Watson didn’t have many options as he scrambled right, then back to the left. He bought time until tight end Jordan Thomas got open in the middle of the end zone, to Watson’s right. Watson got his shoulders around to fling a quick pass to Thomas, a tough play that Watson made look easy.
Watson passed Dan Marino for the second-most touchdown passes through a player’s first 15 career games. Marino had 32, Watson has 33, and only Kurt Warner had more, with 36. Pretty good list to be on.
Watson looked mobile, evaded the rush constantly, delivered on the deep ball and was decisive all night. It was a familiar performance from him. It’s even more impressive when you consider he’s playing through injuries.
Texans on a roll
Houston started the season 0-3. Part of that was Watson working back from his ACL surgery, but it wasn’t the only reason. The Texans have rebounded to win five in a row. Some of those wins were fortunate, but they looked better last week and very good on Thursday.
However the Texans arrived at this point, they’re halfway through the season at 5-3 and in first place of the AFC South. They have a fine defense, especially with J.J. Watt dominating again. DeAndre Hopkins might be the most talented receiver in football, capable of catching passes between his legs. They aren’t a complete team by any means, but there’s a lot to like.
The key is Watson. The Texans can overcome a lot of their issues if he plays like he did on Thursday night. It finally felt like the long-awaited continuation of his unbelievable rookie season.
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