HOUSTON -- Deshaun Watson claims he doesn't treat prime-time games any differently, but in the Houston Texans' 28-22 victory Sunday night against the New England Patriots, the quarterback again put on a show.
In nine career prime-time games, Watson has thrown 21 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
"He's come up big in important games throughout his life: high school, Clemson, Houston," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said.
And on Sunday night, Watson came up big against the Patriots, whom he had not beaten in two previous tries. In his first victory against New England, Watson completed 18 of 25 passes for 234 yards and three touchdowns.
It was the fifth time this season Watson had three or more passing touchdowns, which is the most in a single season in Texans history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Entering the day, the Patriots had allowed four passing touchdowns all season and had forced 15 interceptions. On Sunday, the Texans had four passing touchdowns and no interceptions thrown.
Watson's third touchdown took two tries. On second down midway through the third quarter, Watson found Will Fuller in the back of the end zone for what was ruled a 35-yard touchdown. The play was reviewed and eventually overturned when officials ruled Fuller did not have control of the ball. On the next play, Watson threw a similar pass to wide receiver Kenny Stills that gave the Texans (8-4) an 18-point lead after the extra point.
The Texans' fourth touchdown of the game came on a trick play. On first and goal, running back Duke Johnson took the snap and handed it off to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who threw a touchdown pass to Watson. The play was one the Texans had been working on since the bye week, when Watson and backup quarterback AJ McCarron saw the Chicago Bears run a similar play on a 2-point conversion.
"I knew I had to kind of tuck the ball, wait for him to commit, to throw it to Deshaun," Hopkins said. "I knew once I threw it to him, he was going to be in."
It was the first catch of Watson's career and Hopkins' first career completion. Watson is the first player with three passing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown in a game since Jim McMahon did it in 1985, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. He is only the fourth player in NFL history to accomplish that in the regular season, joining McMahon, Frank Ryan (Los Angeles Rams), and Ray Buivid (Bears).
The Texans' victory was only the second in franchise history against the Patriots; the other was in Week 17 of the 2009 season. Entering the game, Houston had lost eight games in a row to New England. The win was also Texans coach Bill O'Brien's first against his former boss, Bill Belichick. Entering the game, Belichick was 5-0 against O'Brien, then his best record against a former assistant.
"Every win is big, but of course against a team like the Patriots, who's been doing it for so long and with the talent and the things they've been doing for this season, it was big for us," Watson said. "It builds our confidence, it builds the momentum for us to continue to try to push on. It shows us and shows the world that we can play with anyone on any given day if we come up and play.