HOUSTON (AP) — Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson has a knack for making big plays, whether it’s with his arm or his feet.
But after the quarterback took a few too many unnecessary hits in a 19-16 overtime win against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, his teammates wondered if maybe he should dial things back a bit.
“I be in the huddle telling him to get down,” receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. “I need him. That’s what I tell him honestly. Don’t take those hits unless you … have to. But he’s a warrior. He wants to get in the end zone every time the ball is in his hands.”
Watson threw for 375 yards with a touchdown and an interception and ran 10 times for 40 yards for the Texans, who won in overtime for the second straight week.
Houston coach Bill O’Brien agreed with Hopkins that Watson is taking too many blows but added that he doesn’t want to cut down on the hits at the cost of changing the way he plays.
“We’ve got to do a better job of making sure that he doesn’t take as many,” O’Brien said. “At the same time, it’s a fine line because that’s part of his game. That’s the way he plays the game.”
“He enjoys that part of the game to be honest with you,” O’Brien continued. “I think it’s something that we continue to coach and obviously, it’s something we don’t want an abundance of him getting hit, but sometimes it does happen.”
The Texans were driving late in the fourth quarter when Xavier Woods intercepted Watson, who threw under heavy pressure, with 10 seconds left and returned it 15 yards to give Dallas the ball at its 47. Watson was taken down hard by two defenders on the play and was slow to get up. He was checked out in the medical tent after that, but returned to throw a 49-yard pass to Hopkins in overtime that set up the game-winning field goal.
He took a huge hit earlier when he tried to scramble for a touchdown near the goal line.
“I try to do what’s best for the team,” he said. “I know sometimes what’s best for the team is protecting myself, but when we are down there at the goal line and I’m trying to get in the end zone, that’s my mentality. … I’m built to take those hits. I’m going to give all my will and all my guts to try to get the ball in the end zone.”
Some things to know about Houston’s win over the Cowboys.
Houston defensive end J.J. Watt had a sack on Sunday night to give him six this season, which is tied for the NFL lead with Cincinnati’s Geno Atkins and Watt’s younger brother, Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt.
Watt has been great in his return from missing most of the last two seasons with injuries and was named AFC defensive player of the month for September last week.
The three-time Defensive Player of the Year said he’s feeling pretty good but still has work to do.
“I’m still working back from everything and still getting back,” Watt said.
NOWHERE TO RUN
Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott finished with a season-low 54 yards rushing on 20 carries. It was the third-lowest total for Elliott, who entered the game leading the NFL in yards rushing.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Houston’s defense made it difficult for Elliott to get anything going.
“They loaded it up in there and did a good job loading up the front,” he said. “We weren’t consistent running the football inside, really throughout the game … Zeke ran hard, a couple of times, he almost came out of there, but it was not as consistent as we’d like it to be.”
Hopkins finished with 151 yards receiving for his third 100-yard receiving game this season. His 594 yards receiving this season leads the NFL. Coach Bill O’Brien raved about what he brings to his offense.
“He’s a playmaker, he’s a great player,” O’Brien said. “We’re always trying to get the ball in his hands.”