By Terrance Turner
The Houston Texans overcame a 16-0 deficit to defeat the Buffalo Bills 22-19 in Saturday night’s AFC Wild Card Game.
The Buffalo Bills jumped out to an early lead almost immediately. Receiver John Brown threew a touchdown pass to quarterback Josh Allen early in the first quarter, giving the Bills a 7-0 lead. They added to that lead with two field goals by kicker Steven Hauschka. The score was 13-0 at halftime.
The Bills tacked on three more points with a field goal in the third quarter. Missed tackles and a stifled offense had the Texans down 16-0. But with as the quarter drew to a close, the Texans finally put together a successful drive. Two big catches by wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins helped move the chains. But it was Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson who scored, running past defenders for a 20-yard touchdown. Watson also ran into the end zone for a two-point conversion, making it 16-8.
In the fourth quarter, the Bills tried to respond. But Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus forced a fumble. The Texans capitalized on the turnover, with kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn kicking a field goal to make it 16-11. On their next drive, the Texans scored again. Watson tossed a short pass to running back Carlos Hyde, who ran into the end zone. The Texans — badly outplayed in the first three quarters — now led 19-16.
The Bills took over, and a bizarre sequence ensued. With just over a minute left, Allen took off running towards midfield. Chased by Texans defenders, he fell and lost the ball — then batted it backward. The ball bounced out of bounds; Allen narrowly avoided a penalty. He rallied to push the Bills into field-goal range. Hauschka knocked through a FG kick to tie the game with seven seconds left.
The game went into overtime. It dragged on for ten minutes, with neither team able to score. With only four minutes left, Watson was hit on both sides by two Bills defenders. Somehow he spun away and ran before launching a successful pass. That set up Fairbairn’s field goal to win the game.
According to the Houston Chronicle, 71,000 fans crowded into NRG Stadium to watch the game. It was the highest-rated Wild Card game ever on ESPN and ABC, according to Deadline. It was also the most-viewed Saturday afternoon Wild Card game since 2014, averaging 26 million viewers.