News & Analysis

NFL Wild Card PFF ReFocused: Houston Texans 22, Buffalo Bills 19

The battle between two of the hottest young quarterbacks in the NFL did not disappoint. Both showed uncoachable ability en route to an exciting Wild Card bout. In the end, Deshaun Watson’s freakish combination of athleticism and accuracy was too much for even the vaunted Buffalo Bills defense. While he took a few more sacks than you’d like, he also threw a catchable pass on 84% of his targets and made the game-winning scramble completion. He went downfield when needed, going 8-of-10 on throws 10-plus yards in the second half and overtime to lead the Houston Texans to a 22-19 win and advance to the Divisional Round.

Watson's tendency to welcome pressure and take sacks played a significant role in the Texans' 16-0 deficit to start the game. Due in large part to Buffalo's strong play in coverage, Watson's time to throw average was a whopping 3.65 seconds — the longest single-game average for him this season. He also took seven sacks in the contest, good for another season-high for the Houston signal-caller.

tm down_dist plays epa/play suc_% pass_% epa/pass epa/run suc_%_pass suc_%_run
BUF 1st 35 0.11 43% 63% 0.22 -0.06 45% 38%
HST 1st 28 -0.01 54% 39% -0.03 0.01 55% 53%
BUF 2nd_1-3 1 0.64 100% 0% 0 0.64 0% 100%
HST 2nd_1-3 2 0.23 50% 0% 0 0.22 0% 50%
BUF 2nd_4-7 6 -0.12 17% 50% 0.14 -0.39 33% 0%
HST 2nd_4-7 12 0.36 42% 67% 0.44 0.2 50% 25%
BUF 2nd_8+ 19 -0.14 32% 58% -0.45 0.29 27% 37%
HST 2nd_8+ 9 -0.82 22% 100% -0.82 0 22% 0%
BUF 3/4_1-4 6 -0.27 67% 33% -0.58 -0.12 50% 75%
HST 3/4_1-4 7 -1.15 29% 71% -0.59 -2.55 40% 0%
BUF 3/4_5+ 17 -0.08 47% 100% -0.08 0 47% 0%
HST 3/4_5+ 7 0.67 57% 100% 0.67 0 57% 0%
BUF all 84 -0.02 42% 65% -0.04 0.02 42% 41%
HST all 65 -0.1 45% 62% -0.06 -0.15 45% 44%

EPA (expected points added): The amount that a play adds (or subtracts if negative) to the number of points the offense is expected to score on the next scoring play. Positive EPA represents a successful play (e.g. suc_%), EPA takes into account down and distance where yards per play does not.

Of course, Watson ultimately rallied in the second half and turned in a heroic effort on his way to the comeback win. Bills quarterback Josh Allen, on the other hand, cost his team late with a handful of key mistakes.

You can sugarcoat this loss any way you want, but if you score 19 points in a game in 2019 – especially in overtime, you do not deserve to win. The brunt of the issue falls squarely on the shoulders of Allen, who failed to deliver wholeheartedly in the second half. He simply could not push the ball down the field with any consistency. He went 3-of-10 with zero big-time throws and two turnover-worthy plays in the second half and overtime on throws 10-plus yards downfield. Whether it was play calling or hesitancy from QB1, it cost them the win.

player team targets tgt_share air_yds_tgt rec rec_yds rec_air_yds
Duke Williams BUF 10 24% 16.2 4 49 44
John Brown BUF 8 19% 13.8 4 50 35
Devin Singletary BUF 7 17% 1.1 6 76 2
Cole Beasley BUF 5 12% 3.2 4 44 14
Isaiah McKenzie BUF 5 12% 3 4 23 -3
Dawson Knox BUF 2 5% 6 1 14 6
Frank Gore BUF 1 2% -1 0 0 0
Josh Allen BUF 1 2% 12 1 16 12
Lee Smith BUF 1 2% 2 1 8 2
Patrick DiMarco BUF 1 2% 51 0 0 0
Tyler Kroft BUF 1 2% 6 0 0 0
DeAndre Hopkins HST 8 32% 12.1 6 90 83
Darren Fells HST 5 20% 6.8 4 37 23
Kenny Stills HST 5 20% 15.8 4 46 44
Duke Johnson Jr. HST 3 12% 2 3 30 6
DeAndre Carter HST 2 8% 3.5 1 5 1
Carlos Hyde HST 1 4% 0 1 5 0
Taiwan Jones HST 1 4% -1 1 34 -1

DeAndre Hopkins also showed up late for Houston, catching all four of his targets for 70 yards when against Bills' phenom Tre'Davious White in the second half. Hopkins' best play was his 41-yard snag over the top of White that set up the Texans' game-tying score in the fourth quarter.

If the Texans are going to make it through the AFC playoffs, they’re going to need Bradley Roby to continue to play the way we saw against the Bills. He was targeted twice and didn’t allow a single catch while breaking up one of his targets. The secondary has been much maligned all season long, including Roby at times, but he’s flashed CB1 type ability throughout his career. If the Kansas City Chiefs are their next opponent, Roby’s A game is a must.

[Editor's Note: All of PFF's grades and advanced stats from this game and the other games played this week will be finalized and made available to ELITE subscribers within 24 hours of the final whistle. ELITE subscribers can view player grades, advanced statistics, positional snap counts and more in Premium Stats.]

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