Texans 22, Bills 19

Texans vs Bills Wildcard Playoff: Good, bad & ugly

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Another home playoff game in the Bill O'Brien era, another heartache. At least this time it ended in a victory. Here are my observations of the Texans' overtime win:

The Good

-J.J. Watt came up with a sack that helped force a field goal after the Texans turned the ball over in their own territory. On the 3rd&8 play, he beat the Bills' rookie right tackle with one move and Josh Allen had nowhere to go. Good to see him back less than three months away from tearing his pectoral muscle. This sack was a clear turning point in the game, and it was made that much sweeter when...

-...the effort of Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Duke Johnson, and Carlos Hyde to take the offense down and score. Watson put the team on his back with a touchdown run and two-point conversion to make it 16-8. From that point forward, Watson put the team on his back, literally and figuratively. His wizardry to evade defenders often gets him in trouble, or it sets up a game-winning field goal in overtime.

-Gareon Conley made two touchdown-saving plays in the 1st half. One was an athletic breakup, the other was a heads up arm grab to ensure Duke Williams dropped the ball. Both were on key 3rd downs and both resulted in the Bills settling for field goals. The halftime score could've been 21-0 instead of 13-0 if it weren't for Conley.

*Honorable Mention goes to Whitney Mercilus. He's been M.I.A. for a large stretch of the season. When he recently signed an extension, it was deemed laughable. However, he earned a good portion of that money today with his performance, especially in the clutch.

The Bad

-The Texans won the coin toss and deferred to the 2nd half. The defense couldn't hold the Bills juggernaut offense on the opening possession of the game and allowed them to go 75 yards in six plays for a touchdown. The chunk play on the drive: a Josh Allen 42-yard run that flipped field position. The scoring play: a Josh Allen touchdown catch. Not the way you want to start a game. But hey, at least the opening kickoff wasn't returned for a touchdown. Progress?

-At one point early in the 2nd half, Josh Allen had three times as many total yards as Deshaun Watson. To make matters worse, Watson was also sacked seven times, a few of which were his fault. Through the first 38-plus minutes of play, Watson was being outplayed by Allen and it showed on the scoreboard.

-Explosive plays are considered anything over 20 yards. The Texans were considered the more explosive offense, while the Bills were thought to be a more plodding offensive unit. That was debunked when I looked up and saw the Bills outdid the Texans in explosive plays five to three.

The Ugly

-Whether you want to blame the league and the refs for the sham of pass interference reviews, or Bill O'Brien for challenging it, the Texans' first drive came to a halt at the Bills' 37 yard line on 3rd&8 when Watson had Hopkins but the pass fell incomplete after some contact. It wasn't very clear, so O'Brien shouldn't have challenged it. It also shows that the refs aren't going to overturn very many of these calls. Waste of a challenge.

-Down 13-0 early in the 2nd half, the defense finally came up with a stop to force a punt. Hopkins caught his first pass of the game after the Texans came up with a huge stop, but fumbled trying to get an extra yard or two. Hopkins routinely carries the ball with one hand, but this time it cost him and his team.

-This was one of the worst tackling performances I've seen in the playoffs. While there weren't any "Beast-quake" plays made because of it, there were far too many extra yards and first downs had simply because the defense failed tackle soundly. Vernon Hargreaves' miss on Dawson Knox

The Texans managed to pull off an improbable win at home. Improbable because they put themselves behind early by not executing and committing awful mistakes. Good thing Allen was the Texans' co-MVP in this game by committing inexcusable errors. They were saved by HUGE plays from the defense and the offense finally stepping up. While they almost gave it away at the end by missing on 4th&1, they managed to hang on and get the win. They even allowed the Bills back in it with a field goal to send it to overtime. Remember when Dabo Swinney called Watson the "Michael Jordan" of football? This game made that proclamation appear like a prophecy. Let's see how they look next week after this thriller. Coming from 16 down in this fashion to win makes this team believe they can beat anyone.

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Everyone else is doing it! Composite image by Jack Brame.

Can a professional athlete come up with a worse excuse for getting caught using performance-enhancing drugs than blaming it on a doctor?

Fans would have more respect for a player if he said the dog ate his urine test results.

Texans wide receiver Will Fuller V (as in I'm taking the Fifth) and cornerback Bradley Roby have been suspended after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Both will sit out for the remaining five games of the 2020 season, plus the first game of the 2021 season.

There were many questions about Fuller heading into Year 5 of his NFL career. Up until 2020, his tenure in the NFL has been plagued with injuries, and some Texans fans clamored for him to be swapped before the 2020 trade deadline. Fuller was having his best season, and the Texans decided to keep him. In fact, Deshaun Watson said the team would've revolted if Fuller had been moved. In 11 games, Fuller has 53 receptions for 879 yards and eight touchdowns.

I'm going to cut Bradley Roby some slack because he took ownership for using a banned substance. He made it clear that it was his responsibility to know what is on the NFL's list of banned PEDs. He will probably have that list taped on his fridge the rest of his NFL career.

Fuller took a different approach, one that unfortunately resembles many other famous athletes' excuses for getting caught with PEDs; Blame a medical professional. Or somebody, anybody else.

Whether Fuller and Roby were receiving treatment from the same medical professional is unknown. More important, it's irrelevant. In 2020, how could athletes possibly blame a medical professional when a list of banned substances is hanging on the wall in every team's training room?

The answer is they shouldn't. Let's take a look at athletes with the worst excuses for juicing. Specifically for getting caught juicing.

Rafael Palmeiro (MLB) - Other than a physician or trainer, the only person more improbable to blame for a positive steroid test is your own teammate. When Palmeiro tested positive in 2005, he blamed a supposed B-12 shot (it wasn't B-12) administered by Baltimore Orioles Miguel Tejada.

Brian Cushing (NFL) - Cushing played his entire NFL career with the Houston Texans. Cushing's first positive test came in 2009. He had abnormally high levels of human chorionic gonadotropin, a human growth hormone that typically shows up in pregnant women. He later changed his excuse to "overtraining." He has since claimed the positive test was a result of a cancerous tumor. He tested positive for PEDs again in 2017.

Maria Sharapova (Tennis) - Sharapova claimed she never read an email which listed the banned substance, meldonium, she was caught taking.

Barry Bonds (MLB) - When Bonds tested positive for PEDs in 2000 and 2001, he put all of the blame on San Francisco Giants trainer Greg Anderson. Bonds said Anderson told him that he was using flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is not typically injected, and certainly doesn't lead to your hat size growing.

Lance Armstrong (Cycling) - Armstrong, after years of denial, admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs on an Opera Winfrey prime time special. His excuse? Every other cyclist was doing it. Oprah did not ask him if he would jump off the Brooklyn Bridge if the others did. How could anybody win seven Tour de France titles after surviving testicular cancer? They might as well have renamed the race Tour De Lance. His sad saga ended with him being stripped of his seven titles and banned for life.

Melky Cabrera (MLB) - Cabrera tested positive while playing for the San Francisco Giants in 2012. After his positive test, he paid a patsy $10,000 to create a fake website that sold fake products to try and fake his innocence. The FBI busted him and he served a real suspension.

LaShawn Merritt (Track & Field) - The famed American sprinter blamed his third positive steroid test on a testicular enlargement supplement called Extenze.

Petr Korda (Tennis) - Korda stated that his love for veal was the reason he tested positive for the steroid nandrolone. He went further saying he liked veal even more when the calf was injected with steroids. A scientist testified Korda would have to eat 40 calves every day for 20 years to equal the amount of nandrolone discovered in his system. Sounds like the Ivan Drago diet (from the first fight, when he killed Apollo Creed).

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