This is the offseason. That means it’s time for lists and delving deep into extremely specific sample sizes.
Pro Football Focus came up with an All-Clutch team, comprised of the players that played a minimum of 75 snaps who had the best grades in the fourth quarter of one score games. Both Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins were named to this team; you can read more about the full team here.
Watson didn’t skate by on one or two plays here. He was dragged through the fire during the 2019 season, playing more snaps than any quarterback in the NFL in this subset across the regular season and postseason (214) and coming away with the league’s best grade on those plays (88.6). His stat line simply conveys dominance — 66 for 88, 909 yards, eight touchdowns and just one interception. There’s a sense when watching Watson play quarterback that he is going to find a way to pull it out down the stretch, and the numbers bore that out last season.
Given Watson’s success in the clutch, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to see his former right-hand man, Hopkins, also on this list. Hopkins caught 24 passes for 384 yards and a touchdown without any drops, commanding the football with the game on the line. Thomas, meanwhile, simply did what he did all season and brought in 22 of his 24 targets for 213 yards and two touchdowns across the fourth quarter and overtime of one-score games. That kind of efficiency is something we’ve come to expect from the Drew Brees-to-Thomas connection, but it’s still worth pointing out that connecting on 22 of 24 targets is not normal.
Last season, the Texans went 9-3 in one possession games when you include the win over the Bills in the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs. The reason for that was a reason we’ve known for a while now—Deshaun Watson makes the impossible possible, and Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the league. As PFF has stated, both players were among the best in the NFL in these close game situations.
This is something vital to pay attention to before the 2020 season. Typically one score record is a high variance stat that changes year to year, and it’s reasonable to assume the Texans won’t have the same fortuitous one score record next season. And, you know, the Texans did trade DeAndre Hopkins.