“We were watching film one day and were like, ‘Actually, we probably can run that,’” Watson said. “We threw it out to [offensive coordinator] Tim Kelly and OB [coach Bill O’Brien]. And then Hop [DeAndre Hopkins] saw it, and Hop of course is like, ‘Let's do it! Let’s do it!’”
The Texans used that play in the fourth quarter of their 28-22 victory over the New England Patriots on Sunday night, when running back Duke Johnson took the handoff from Watson and then handed it off to wide receiver Hopkins, who was hit right as he passed to Watson. Watson took the pass 6 yards and dove into the end zone to give the Texans a 28-9 lead.
“I think they drew that one up in the dirt over the bye week; and they brought it in,” O’Brien joked after the game. “They had it on a piece of notebook paper and they handed it to me. We've been working on that for a while.”
DeAndre Hopkins was traveling 12.07 MPH when he flipped the ball forward to Deshaun Watson for the 6-yard TD reception.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 2, 2019
Watson had 4.0 yards of separation to the nearest defender (DL John Simon) when the pass arrived. #NEvsHOU | #WeAreTexans pic.twitter.com/RH4ShLxuNN
Watson wouldn’t divulge the name of the play -- it starts with an A, he said -- but said once the Texans got inside the Patriots’ 5-yard line, he knew it was "the perfect time" to run the play. Houston didn’t get the exact look it had practiced with (Watson said the Texans wanted man coverage with one safety, but the Patriots went with a two-high look), but Watson said he knows “Hop like the back of my hand,” and knew they would make it work.
“It was funky at first, and I wanted to check out of it,” Watson said. “But I was like, 'No, this is a perfect time.' We got it here, so if we don't run it now, we probably will never run it. So I was like, 'Forget it. Me and Hop will make something work.'”
The biggest difference between the play the Texans ran in practice and how they executed it in the game, Hopkins said, is that there “wasn’t a guy flipping me in practice, that’s for sure.” But Hopkins knew if he held on to the ball and was able to get the defender to commit, it would allow Watson to get open and then all he had to do was get him the ball.
“They played it very well,” Hopkins said. “He was patient, so I knew I had to kind of tuck the ball, wait for him to commit, to throw it to Deshaun and I knew once I threw it to him that he was going to be in.”
Now that Watson has an NFL receiving touchdown, he joked that he is setting his sights on the other side of the ball.
“I [tell everybody], I'm an athlete,” Watson said. “[I] could play D-end, safety, all that stuff. The more you can do, the longer you play in this league. I can do it all.
“Later in my career I can still move around; put me on defense or something.”