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Week 19 Game Recap: Houston Texans 31, Kansas City Chiefs 51


What you need to know

Houston Texans

The Texans jumped out to a 24-0 lead on the back of good deep passing and some Chiefs gaffes, but their offense couldn't keep up with the Chiefs and the running game that dominated in the first matchup stalled out. Will Fuller looked healthy and effective in his return but it wasn't enough even though Deshaun Watson had a big statistical game.

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Houston Texans 51-31 on Sunday, advancing to the AFC Championship game where they play the Tennesse Titans. Patrick Mahomes completed 23 of 35 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns while also rushing for 53 yards on seven carries. Damien Williams rushed 12 times for 47 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 21 yards and a touchdown. Sammy Watkins stepped up big when his number was called, catching two passes for 76 yards on two targets, and gained 14 yards on his only rush of the game. Tyreek Hill had a quiet day, totaling three receptions for 41 yards on a meager four targets. Travis Kelce was the star of the game, catching 10 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns.

Houston Texans

QB Deshaun Watson, Pass: 31 - 52 - 388 - 2 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 6 - 37 - 1
It was an unfortunate game for the Texans, and it was a hot start for Deshaun Watson leading the offense on their first opening-drive touchdown of the season. He was able to hit Kenny Stills for a 54-yard touchdown pass when the Chiefs busted a coverage leaving him wide open. Watson also hit tight end, Darren Fells, for a four-yard touchdown pass on a nice ready hitting his tight end, finding a soft spot in a zone looks just inside the endzone. It was also the first time in a while that Watson was able to cut loose the deep ball, and he hit six passes for over 20 yards plus four of 30 yards or more. Watson did chip in five-yard touchdown run late in the game when the game was out of reach. Watson had no turnovers, but it was a yardage filled game for the offense, but it not produce enough scores to keep up with the Chiefs' explosive offense.

RB Carlos Hyde, Rush: 13 - 44 - 0, Rec: 3 - 18 - 0 (4 targets)
The Texans run game has not been the same since the right tackle situation lost rookie Tytus Howard. Carlos Hyde had little to work with on Sunday with his longest run, only being seven yards. He was a little more involved with the passing game catching three passes, but overall it was a slow game for the Texans lead back.

RB Duke Johnson, Rush: 1 - 11 - 0, Rec: 5 - 23 - 0 (8 targets)
It was a slow day for Duke Johnson, he only had one carry for 11 yards and five receptions for 23 yards. His longest reception was nine-yards, but with the Texans play behind the majority of the game. Watson had to push the ball downfield to his receivers.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, Rec: 9 - 118 - 0 (14 targets)
The Texans did not wait to get Hopkins involved in the game, unlike last week. Hopkins would end up hurting his ribs on their last offensive play before halftime on a 38-yard reception. He would finish the game with a team-high 118 receiving yards. With plenty of vertical presence from Stills and Fuller, Hopkins was able to work underneath and make plays. Hopkins had two receptions of 21 and 20, and the rest were under nine yards of catching and moving the chains.

WR Will Fuller, Rec: 5 - 89 - 0 (8 targets)
It was the first game for Will Fuller in two weeks since injuring his groin in week 16. His presence was enough to open up the passing game and not only get him looks but help Deshaun Watson spread the ball around. Fuller's longest reception was 39 yards down the left sideline when he blew by a Chiefs defensive back. Fuller was also able to haul in a 30-yard reception helping Watson put together a strong deep ball game.

WR Kenny Stills, Rec: 3 - 80 - 1 (6 targets)
Stills ended up getting the Texans offense going to start the game with a 54-yard touchdown reception from Watson. On a third-down play, Stills was able to break free after the Chiefs coverage busted and left him wide open for an easy throw from Watson. Outside of his touchdown reception, Stills was kept quiet. Only catching two more passes along the way for 26 yards for the remainder of the game.

TE Darren Fells, Rec: 3 - 22 - 1 (7 targets)
It has been a quiet stretch for Darren Fells since being a touchdown catching machine to start the season, and he finally got back to catching a touchdown against the Chiefs. After a fumble on the Chiefs, he was able to find space in the Chiefs secondary and allow Watson to hit him for a four-yard touchdown pass.


Kansas City Chiefs

QB Patrick Mahomes, Pass: 23 - 35 - 321 - 5 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 53 - 0
Patrick Mahomes completed 23 of 35 passes for 321 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. In the Chiefs win over the Texans on Sunday. Mahomes also rushed seven times for 53 yards. This was a tale of two games, the first consisting of the opening 19 minutes, and the second being the final 31 minutes. In the first, the Chiefs get themselves in a massive 24 point hole before Mahomes reminds us why he is the reigning MVP and puts up 51 points, including four touchdown passes in the second quarter alone. It took all of 18 plays from scrimmage in the second quarter for Mahomes to throw four touchdown passes and take the lead 28-24 heading into the second half. The first of Mahomes touchdown passes came with the Chiefs facing a first and 10 from the Texans 17 yard line. With Williams lined to his left, Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and looked immediately to Williams who was running a wheel route up the left sideline. The pass was thrown while Williams was still running hard with his eyes upfield and was put in the perfect place, so much so that the ball was nearly in Williams gut by the time he looked back. From there Williams beat the Texans secondary to the goal line without being touched, sparking one of the greatest playoff comebacks in the history of the sport. Mahomes second touchdown pass came four plays later, with the Chiefs looking at a first and goal from the Texans five yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and faced a collapsing pocket, which forced him to step up and out towards the right sideline. From there it may have looked as though Mahomes was being tackled from behind, but in reality he dove to the right which gave him the proper angle to throw a sidearm pass to Kelce, who was running a crossing pattern towards the right sideline. The pass came low and out to his left, but Kelce was able to make an impressive catch, while also keeping his momentum moving upfield which allowed him to dive across the goal line for the five yard touchdown. The Mahomes to Kelce connection struck again, this time three plays later with the Chiefs facing a third and goal from the Texans six yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and ran a bootleg to the right sideline. As Mahomes neared the right sideline, Kelce cut off his route and moved slightly back to the middle of the field, giving Mahomes an opening to fit the ball into. Kelce caught the pass cleanly and was able to run the remaining two yards untouched for the six yard touchdown. The duo was not done though, as Mahomes threw a third touchdown pass to Kelce with 50 seconds remaining in the first half, giving the Chiefs their first lead of the game. Facing a third and goal from the Texans five yard line, Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and ran a bootleg to the left side of the field, essentially the mirror image of the previous touchdown pass. Again, Kelce ran an out-route to the left sideline and right as Mahomes was about to cross the line of scrimmage—forcing the Texans defender who was covering Kelce to commit towards Watson—he stopped his route again and sat down in the one spot that was vacated by the feeling Texans defender. Mahomes was able to get enough on a shotput-like throw to hit Kelce, who had camped out just across the goal line. The play will most likely be remembered by Mahomes baiting the Texans secondary into making a move that forced a gap in their zone defense, a move that was made while Mahomes had to travel parallel to the line of scrimmage on his last stride before stopping short and throwing to Kelce. However, I will remember it with respect to the pass that Mahomes threw, perhaps the 100th different throw variation we’ve seen from him in his two short years a starter. This one was a shotput motion that was thrown against his body back to the middle of the field while running to the left sideline. The throw is so difficult to make, and the angle is so severe, Mahomes had to actually stop his feet just to get enough on the pass. A pass that traveled only six yards, yet he was one of maybe three players in the NFL who could have made that play, and he made it at the most important time. Mahomes final touchdown pass came with the Chiefs facing a first and goal from the Houston eight-yard line. Preceding this play, Mahomes had completed passes of 23 yards, 13 yards and 28 yards. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and play-action faked a handoff to Williams, before looking to Blake Bell, who was running a wheel-like route that started with him lined up just behind the end of the left side of the line. The Texans secondary reacted too late and Bell was able to cross the goal line easily for an eight yard touchdown.

RB Damien Williams, Rush: 12 - 47 - 2, Rec: 2 - 21 - 1 (6 targets)
Damien Williams rushed 12 times for 47 yards and two touchdowns, while also catching two passes for 21 yards, one of which went for another touchdown for Williams. On any other day, Williams nose for the end zone would have given him player of the game, but that went to either Kelce or Mahomes. Williams opened the flood gates for Kansas City’s offense in the second quarter, catching a 17 yard pass from Mahomes. Williams gets credit for completing the catch, but the truth is the ball was in the exact perfect spot that it needed to be in. As Williams turned around to look back for the ball, the pass was nearly implanted on the left side of his stomach, which made it easy for Williams to keep his momentum moving upfield and outrun the Texans secondary and get the Chiefs on the scoreboard. The next time Williams scored, the Chiefs had run up three more touchdowns and were now leading 28-24. Williams was lined up to Mahomes right and took the handoff straight up the middle for an easy one yard touchdown, a touchdown that happened to be the deciding score for Kansas City. Williams wasn’t done though, as he added a second touchdown on the ground, this time with the Chiefs facing a first and goal from the Texans five yard line. Williams was lined behind Mahomes in the backfield, and was able to get a full head of steam while running up into the middle of the line. Williams used a hard jump-cut forward as he fit himself into the small hole that his offensive line had opened. Williams kept his momentum moving forward and catapulted himself across the goal line for the five yard touchdown. Williams is a perfect fit for the Chiefs offense, as he excels when put in advantageous situations, and he’s versatile enough to fit in with all the different packages and the pre-snap RPO that Reid likes to run.

WR Tyreek Hill, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 3 - 41 - 0 (4 targets)
Tyreek Hill caught three passes for 41 yards on four targets and rushed one time for four yards. Considering the five touchdown passes and 300+ yards for Mahomes, I would have pegged Hill for a larger share than 41 yards and four targets, but that’s the way it goes when you play with two superstars in Kelce and Mahomes, and an efficient running back in Willliams. When all are on their game, there isn’t going to be much scraps for the fourth player. Hill did have catches of 17 and 20 yards, and forced a deep pass interference penalty. On the bad side, Hill muffed a punt early in the first quarter that gave the Texans the ball at the Chiefs six yard line. This resulted in an easy touchdown drive for the Texans, and a 21-0 lead, a lead that would have broke most teams but not the Chiefs.

WR Sammy Watkins, Rush: 1 - 14 - 0, Rec: 2 - 76 - 0 (2 targets)
Sammy Watkins caught two passes for 76 yards on two targets while also rushing one time for 14 yards in the Chief win over the Texans on Sunday. Additionally, Watkins forced a 28 yard pass interference penalty that set up Mahomes touchdown pass to Bell. Watkins 48 yard reception in the third quarter set up Williams one yard touchdown. On that catch, Watkins found a soft spot deep in the Texans zone and was able to make the catch and then turn the ball upfield and gain an additional 28 yards after the catch. Watkins looked good, smooth coming out of his routes and with nice burst when he was able to turn the ball up field. A Watkins playing at his highest level is almost an unfair addition to the Chiefs offense, but we have yet to see that at the same time when Mahomes, Hill, Kelce and Williams are all at their highest level, but perhaps this is the time for that to happen.

WR Mecole Hardman, Rec: 2 - 19 - 0 (4 targets)
Mecole Hardman caught two passes for 14 yards on four targets in the Chiefs win over the Texans on Sunday. Hardman did not make much of an impact in the passing game, but anyone who watched this game will remember Hardman’s 58 yard kickoff return that kickstarted the Chiefs comeback from 24 points down. It was a crucial play in the context of the game’s momentum, but it shouldn’t come as much surprise given Hardman’s penchant for making big plays on limited touches each week.

TE Travis Kelce, Rec: 10 - 134 - 3 (12 targets)
Travis Kelce caught 10 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns on 12 targets in the Chiefs win over the Texans on Sunday. Kelce took over this game in the second quarter and brought the Chiefs back from 24 points, scoring three touchdown in a mere 12 plays. This also included a 28 yard pass interference penalty that set up his first touchdown catch, a 15 yard pass interference penalty, and a 20 yard catch that set up the Chiefs offense in the red zone which resulted in Kelce’s second touchdown catch. Kelce’s first touchdown catch came with the Chiefs facing a second and goal from the Texans five yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and faced a collapsing pocket, which forced him to step up and out towards the right sideline. Kelce was running a crossing route towards the right sideline and was able to create a sliver of separation from his defender. The angle from where Mahomes was moving in the pocket made it difficult to throw the ball in a place where only Kelce could make the catch, so he dove to the right and created the momentum and angle needed for Kelce to make the difficult catch. This is the type of play the best tight ends in the game make, and Kelce leads that charge, catching the ball out in front of him and low while still maintaining his motion towards the goal line. It took only three more plays for Kelce to strike paydirt again, this time with the Chiefs facing a third and goal from the Texans six yard line. Mahomes took the snap out of the shotgun and ran a bootleg to the right sideline. As Mahomes neared the right sideline, Kelce cut off his route and moved slightly back to the middle of the field, giving Mahomes an opening to fit the ball into. Kelce caught the pass and turned quickly before crossing the goal line for the touchdown. Kelce wasn’t done putting his stamp on this game though. With 50 seconds left in the first half, Kelce scored his third touchdown of the quarter, this one on a five yard reception that was a spitting image of his second touchdown catch, only run to the left sideline. Kelce showed his veteran savvy and football intelligence on these plays, knowing the perfect time and place to cut off his routes and create the right placing and angle for Mahomes. Mahomes made a couple of exceptional mini-plays within this play, including riding the line of scrimmage and throwing the ball against his body (running to the left sideline and throwing back to the middle of the field) at the exact moment that he baited the Texans defender into committing to him as a runner. Kelce and Mahomes have great chemistry and it Is plays like this that showcase their shared ability of knowing what the other is going to do when the play breaks down.