Texans Player of the Game

Watson dazzles again in loss

Deshaun Watson was magical in the win. Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Not one, two, or even three tacklers could bring down Deshaun Watson as he scrambled and then found rookie tight end Jordan Akins for 22 yards. On third down no less. Then, moments later, Watson perfectly placed a pass to rookie wideout Vyncint Smith for a 35-yard touchdown to tie the game. The extra point would put the Texans ahead but a last-second Eagles field goal would spoil the typical comeback story.

Watson, again, was amazing. He started slow with the Texans failing to find anything on the ground. With the rushing attack struggling the Texans turned to Watson and his shoulders were ready to carry the load.

Both of the Texans first-half touchdowns were via Watson's feet. The first one, a designed run to the left where he side-stepped an Eagles defender and waltzed in for a touchdown. The second score Watson saw nothing to hit with a pass so he took off untouched for another touchdown.

The offensive line struggled mightily. Watson would lead the team in rushing with 49 yards, most of them making something out of nothing when protection broke down. There were far fewer instances of him holding the ball too long as he decided to make use of his legs. He was hit nine times and sacked four times in the game.

He was even more dynamic through the air.

The second half alone saw Watson pass for 234 yards and his two touchdowns. He was the only chance the Texans had and he made play after play to keep the Texans in the game and almost earn them the win.

This is the type of game you dream of when you draft a franchise quarterback and Watson showed he is every bit the part in just his second year.

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Houston needs a win to advance

ALWC Game 2 Preview: Astros vs. Twins

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

It took all nine innings, but the Astros rallied late and took Game 1 by a score of 4-1 and are in the driver's seat in this best-of-three series. They'll return to Target Field, home of the Twins, on Wednesday afternoon to try and get the win and advance to the ALDS. Here's what you need to know about Game 2:

Game Facts

When: Wednesday, 12:08 PM Central

Where: Target Field - Minneapolis, Minnesota

TV: ESPN 2

Streaming: ESPN App

Pitching Matchup: Jose Urquidy+ vs. José Berríos.

Series: HOU leads 1-0.

Series Schedule

Date & Time (Central) Location Pitching Matchup
Game 1 Astros 4, Twins 1 Target Field, Minneapolis Greinke vs. Maeda
Game 2 Wed 9/30, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis Urquidy+ vs. Berríos
Game 3* Thu 10/1, 12:08 PM Target Field, Minneapolis McCullers Jr.+ vs. Pineda+

* If necessary.
+ Projected starters.

Game Storylines

Houston's offense has to get going earlier

The Twins' error in the ninth inning in Game 1 was a gift for the Astros that they were able to take advantage of and score the winning runs. It's unlikely to be handed another chance like that in the postseason, so in Game 2, it's paramount that Houston creates their own opportunities at the plate.

The good news is, every batter in the lineup was able to reach base in the first game, either by hit or walk. However, they would go 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine on base during the game. Because they can't expect to have two pitchers to combine for a one-run game on Wednesday, they will have to carry over the momentum from the end of Game 1 into Game 2 to build a lead their bullpen can carry.

Trust your arms to navigate through

Whether it's Jose Urquidy, who is the likely candidate, or anyone else who ends up starting Wednesday's game, the Astros have to be prepared to have a longer stretch of innings filled by their bullpen. Despite his struggles to end the regular season, Greinke did well only to allow one run to the Twins over his four innings in Game 1.

You should expect a similar outcome in Game 2, where hopefully your starter can hold the Twins at bay for as long as they can before needing to make the change to relievers. It will be interesting to see how Dusty Baker plays that situation, mostly dependent on the score at the time, as he could have someone like Cristian Javier come in for multiple innings. The only thing the Astros shouldn't do is fire too many of their bullets and put their chances in a potential Game 3 at risk.

Be sure to check SportsMap after the final out for an in-depth recap of the game, and follow me on Twitter for updates and reactions throughout each playoff game: @ChrisCampise

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