PHILADELPHIA -- The Houston Texans entered Week 16 in need of a win against the Philadelphia Eagles to remain the No. 2 seed in the AFC. They also needed a win to clinch the AFC South title. The Eagles put those plans on hold as they beat Houston 32-30.
The Texans (10-5) now fall to the No. 3 seed while the New England Patriots are back in the No. 2 spot and in line for a first-round bye. Houston squandered a chance to avoid having to play during wild-card week.
"He's just got incredible instincts, he sees things well, he hangs in there," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "The football field for him is heaven on Earth ... I think the ball in his hands is the best thing for our offense and for our football team, no doubt about it. I think that all of these games, virtually every one that we've been in this year has come down to the last two or three minutes of the game. Sometimes we've been on top of those games and today we weren't. Give [Philly] their team, their coaching staff a lot of credit. They did a better job than we did overall. They made more plays."
Watson completed 29 of 40 pass attempts for 339 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for two touchdowns, which was the first time he had done so in his two-year career. He also became only the fifth quarterback to do so this season.
Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins was questionable to play, but his consecutive receptions of 9, 12 and 18 yards helped set up Watson's first rushing touchdown.
Houston's defense had a meltdown in the second half, allowing 16 unanswered points. Safety Tyrann Mathieu was beaten badly by Eagles receiver Nelson Agholor for an 83-yard touchdown reception that put Philadelphia ahead.
Mathieu took the loss hard, but vowed to lead the team to a better effort next week.
"I thought I was in great coverage but they drew up the right play call," he said. "It was a great ball and they capitalized. You can blame me. It is what it is and I can take it. I am the last line of defense. I will show up to work tomorrow ready to go. I am a leader and we will get better. We'll be ready to play next week for sure."
Watson willed the Texans back to a 30-29 lead on a drive highlighted by two amazing plays. He miraculously broke three tackles in the pocket on a third-and-11 before unleashing a rope to tight end Jordan Akins for a 22-yard gain.
"I don't know if any quarterback can go out there and shake three defenders then make such a precise pass," Hopkins said of Watson. "I watch football all of the time. What he can do is special."
Three plays later, facing another third-and-long situation, Watson delivered a drop-in-the-bucket throw for a 35-yard touchdown to wide receiver Vyncint Smith to give Houston the lead.
"We have a lot of faith in Deshaun," said linebacker Dylan Cole. "When he has the ball, we know there's a big play coming. We just have to do our job on defense. The offense did a really good job today. We just have to execute a lot better on defense."
The defense failed to protect the lead, giving up an 11-play, 72-yard drive capped off by a 35-yard Jake Elliott field goal that gave Philadelphia the win.
The Texans finish the regular season by hosting the Jacksonville Jaguars, but they'll likely have to do so without the services of wideout Demaryius Thomas, who was carted off with an Achilles injury.