HOUSTON — Less than a week after Deshaun Watson had to take a 12-hour bus ride to Jacksonville to ensure he could play in the game due to lung and rib injuries, the Houston Texans quarterback threw for five touchdowns in the team’s 42-23 victory over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night.
It took until the eighth game of the 2018 season, but the Texans’ offense looked like the version the team was hoping for entering the year and Houston finally got a glimpse of the quarterback who lit up the NFL last season before he tore his ACL in early November.
On Thursday night, Watson completed 16 of his 20 passes for 239 yards and a season-high five touchdown passes. Those five touchdown passes tied his career high, which he set last season against the Kansas City Chiefs. The second-year quarterback did not throw an interception for the second straight week.
“We were executing, sticking to the details, playing free,” Watson said. “We got our swagger back today. We just wanted to have fun and try and light up the scoreboard in prime time, and that’s what we did.”
Watson has been playing hurt after injuring his lung and ribs in the Texans’ Week 5 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. He was listed with a chest injury on the injury report all week but was a full participant in practice.
Watson is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era with multiple five-passing-TD games within his first two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Texans had 427 net yards and scored on all four of their red zone opportunities.
For the first time this season, the Texans were able to lean on big offensive plays from their offensive stars. Watson’s third touchdown pass was a 73-yard completion to wide receiver Will Fuller, who beat his defender down the right sideline by a mile and walked the final 5 yards into the end zone. The pass was the longest touchdown of both Watson’s and Fuller’s careers. The pair have now connected for 11 touchdowns in 11 games played together.
Watson also threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who caught six passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Hopkins had 8.6 yards of separation on his 49-yard score, and 0.5 yards of separation on his next touchdown. Those were the most wide-open, and tightest-window touchdown passes, respectively of Watson’s career.
“I don’t even know how explosive we can be. I know it’s top-notch, and we just have to keep working,” Watson said.
Thursday’s victory puts the Texans at 5-3 at the midway point of the season and ensures an outright lead in the AFC South entering Week 9.
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