LONDON (AP) — Deshaun Watson’s most impressive completion won’t even count as one.
With a pair of defensive linemen dragging him to the ground, the escape artist who doubles as a quarterback made a backward flip to running back Carlos Hyde that set up Houston’s first touchdown. The play said all that needed to be said about Watson, Hyde and the Texans in their 26-3 runaway over Jacksonville on Sunday.
They were very hard to stop.
“It’s great to play with a quarterback like Deshaun Watson,” said receiver DeAndre Hopkins, the recipient of one of Watson’s two 1-yard TD throws. “You see what he can do. It was amazing, right?”
Watson’s rugby-style pitch was spot-on perfect for a game in London, where the locals are still recovering from England’s 20-point loss in the World Cup final on Saturday, and now must deal with the added insult of watching their adopted home team, the Jaguars (4-5), getting hammered just as badly.
Jaguars linemen Yannick Ngakoue and Taven Bryan had Watson all but wrapped up in the second quarter with the Texans on the move. Twisted around 180 degrees and facing his own end zone, Watson saw no one but Hyde, who caught the lateral and took it to the Jacksonville 7.
“I yelled out ‘Los!,’” Watson said. “But the ball was already halfway out of my hand when I yelled it. I was just trying to make something happen.”
He finished 22 for 28 for 201 yards, along with 37 yards running. The official stats say he was hit seven times but sacked only once. He dodged defenders and made all the throws with his left eye still swollen and red, a week after getting kicked in the face just before throwing the winning touchdown pass against the Raiders.
How’s the eye, Deshaun?
“It’s fine,” he said. “Thanks for asking.”
The 7-yard gain off the lateral was just the start of things for Hyde. He finished with 19 carries for 160 yards for the Texans (6-3), including a 58-yard run in the fourth quarter that looked headed for a touchdown until Jags safety Jarrod Wilson stripped the ball at the 2.
A quarter earlier, Hyde ripped off a 48-yard gain — finding nothing but air on the right side of the Jaguars line. Watson followed with a 21-yard strike to Hopkins (eight catches, 48 yards), and Duke Johnson ran it in from the 1 for a 19-3 lead.
As for Minshew Mania — it could be over.
In his last start before Nick Foles comes off the injured list, Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew went 27 for 47 with two picks and two lost fumbles. Almost all his 309 yards came during garbage time. It was not great film for coach Doug Marrone to review as he decides whether to keep the rookie in the starting spot.
Minshew went 4-4 as a starter. In two starts against Houston, the Jaguars produced one touchdown.
“It’s not one game. It’ll be a body of work,” Marrone said.
COSTLY AND QUESTIONABLE
Jacksonville’s chance at a comeback was derailed by a pair of costly — and questionable — calls. Trailing 9-3 in the third, D.J. Chark had a catch at the Houston 4 nullified by a ticky-tack pass-interference call. Jacksonville settled for a field-goal attempt that didn’t get off the ground because of a high snap. On the next play, Jaguars defensive lineman Calais Campbell got hit with a personal foul after diving head-first at Watson but missing him completely. It set up a field goal for a 12-3 lead, and the rout was on.
With Jacksonville driving in the fourth quarter, trying to cut the deficit to one score, Texans defensive back Gareon Conley muscled the ball from Jags receiver Chris Conley, who appeared to have secured the ball to convert a fourth-and-10 in Houston territory.
Jacksonville challenged the ruling, but officials upheld their incomplete call. The defensive back came to the Texans last month in a trade with Oakland, and coach Bill O’Brien said he’s been pleased with his play.
Houston: Bye week, then at Ravens on Nov. 17.
Jacksonville: By week, then at Colts on Nov. 17