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Incompletions: Texans v. Bills (A Mystical Experience)

With so much to write and talk about after every game, and person isn’t enough to write about it all, the Masthead joins together and writes about the greatest playoff game in Texans history.

Wild Card Round - Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images


One of the problems man has struggled with since the creation of language is the watering down of words. Adjectives like awful, or terrible, or miserable, or awesome, or sublime, or absurd, are used often, when in reality, there are few things that are. Most things run in between the center of the tails and sit upon the camel’s hump. Aaron Rodgers’s checkdowns are not incredible. A Whitney Mercilus tackle from behind is not spectacular. Making a 91 on a spelling test and spelling vague ‘vage’ isn’t tremendous. The Grand Canyon is sublime, the state park picture you posted on Instagram isn’t. These words are tossed around to say something is good in an all too easy way to not simply call it good, and when it does, it removes the meaning of these other words.

Back in 1902 Williams James wrote The Variety Of Mystical Experiences. One chapter defines the characteristics of a mystical experience. The purpose of it was to remove sentimentality and bring meaning back to the word mystic, since, back at that time, the word had little to no value just like incredible does today. This isn’t only a problem for the post-modern age.

James had four characteristics to define a mystical experience. The first two, “will entile any state to be called mystical,” the second two are, “qualities are less sharply marked, but are usually found.”

These are the four mystical qualities:

1. Ineffability.— The subject of it immediately says that it defies expression, that no adequate report of its contents can be given in words. It follows from this that its quality must be directly experienced; it cannot be imparted or transferred to others...

2. Noetic quality.—Although so similar to states of feeling, mystical states seem to those who experience them to be also states of knowledge...They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain; and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority for after-time.

3. Transiency.—Mystical states cannot be sustained for long...Often, when faded, their quality can but imperfectly be reproduced in memory; but when they recur it is recognized...

4. Passivity.—Although the oncoming of mystical states may be facilitated by preliminary voluntary operations, as by fixing the attention, or going through certain bodily performances, or in other ways which manuals of mysticism prescribe; yet when the characteristic sort of consciousness once has set in, the mystic feels as if his own will were in abeyance, and indeed sometimes as if he were grasped and held by a superior power...

The Texans and Bills played a lot of football and all of that football found the game tied 19-19 with 4:16 left in overtime. Next score wins. Ball at Buffalo’s 44. Sniffing the edges of Ka’imi Fairbairn’s range. 2nd and 6. Empty backfield. 01 personnel. Buffalo had six defenders in the box, two playing close to the edge to match Houston’s tight wide receivers—Darren Fells (#87) and DeAndre Hopkins (#10). Taiwan Jones (#34) is split out to the right as a wide receiver. Kenny Stills (#12) in the left slot and DeAndre Carter (#14) is the left wide receiver.

Before the snap linebacker Matt Milano (#58) moved from the linebacker position to the right edge. He blitzed along with linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (#49) and slot corner Siran Neal (#23), who passed Stills off to the safety. Houston’s offensive line shifted one gap over to the right.

Fells (#87) stayed into block and Edmunds fell right into his arms. Milano was able to run around right tackle Roderick Johnson (#63) and Neal came free and unimpeded off the opposite edge. Staring right, looking to throw, Watson stood in between both Buffalo blitzers. The Texans were about to face a long third down. It would take a miracle for the Texans to get back into Fairbairn’s limits.

Then, a mystical experience occurred.

I can say these words. Seeing Milano, Watson slightly steps up the pocket. Neal is draped across his back instead of splattering his torso across the field. Laborious. Wrapped up. Watson is tugged towards the ground. Milano does the opposite. Both forearms explode into Watson’s back. This action works against the previous action. Watson is water. He is the tide carrying the beginning of life from the sea flowing in and back out of the beach. Magic. He survives.

Jones played special teams for the Bills in 2017 and 2018. He broke his arm November 2018. The Texans signed him May 14th, 2019. Before this game, I had not heard his name, I had not seen him play for the Houston Texans. He was there somewhere. Nefarious. Deep in the shadows. Playing gunner on punt teams, or the upback in punt protection, or screaming downfield to tackle kickoffs that are never returned. He had one catch on one target the entirety of the season as part of the Texans ‘B’ team in a meaningless week 17 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

There he was. Lined up as a wide receiver. Safety Micah Hyde (23) across from him. Bailing on the coverage to allow Tre’Davious White (#27) to focus on a vertical route while he took away the deep out. Fairly shallow. Not too deep. Jones runs a comeback, slips out of his break, and inches closer and closer to Watson. Hyde lurches back down once Watson slides out of the pan.

In the center of it all is Jordan Phillips (#97). At first contact he sits to play the ball. He leaps at a pass that is never thrown. Unblocked. He pursues Watson. Rather than try and play the ball again, his shoulder becomes a weapon, unsheathed, it bludgeons Watson’s side, sending him flying out of this universe and into another. This does not matter. The ball is gone. Floating. Heading towards Jones.

Completion. Yards separate Hyde and Jones. The safety breaks down in front of him. Jones cuts inside. Hyde goes from flat to pursuing, dives, misses, and Jones is unleashed. Hopkins blocks White. Jones runs 34 yards and delivers the ball to the ten yard line.

These words are meaningless. The movement of 21 men can be summarized, but the singular action by one man defies them all. It can’t be arranged into symbols that calls sound to action. Something that can only be directly experienced. A deeper understanding was understood then, and is better understood now. That even after all those previous broken tackles and magical plays, it wasn’t entirely concrete, like it is now. The Texans can beat any team, they aren’t out of any game, no matter the lead or the disparaging difference in talent level, no personnel decision or coaching decision or game plan is too obscene as long as Watson is on this team. The play lasted 11.43 seconds. Then it was over. Done with. Instant. Transient. Fairbairn won the game immediately afterwards. Peak experiences come as passive experiences, not as active seekers.

What Watson did wasn’t wild, unbelievable, magical, or awesome, it was a brief mystical state of consciousness that we all experienced.



Once again, Bill O’Brien did not have the offense prepared. There might be worse head coaches and offensive coordinators in the NFL, but none of them have the personnel BOB does.

Once again, the defense saved BOB’s hide. For the entirety of his reign of error, BOB relies on the kindness of his defense to be successful.

Fortunately, the Bills went into prevent offense early in the game, settling for a bunch of field goals. Ultimately, their conservative kicking game, between the field goals and the punts in our territory, were big difference makers.

Fortunately, Deshaun Watson proved that, once again, he is the strongest player in the NFL today. Not only is he capable of carrying the offense, he can also carry the carcass that is BOB. Watson won the game despite BOB’s best attempts to CHUM the team to death, so I assert Watson is also the greatest magician in the NFL.


The Bills were really impressive - it’s hard not to imagine a world where they go on to dominate the AFC East for the next decade now that Brady’s day in the sun seems to be over (and there was much rejoicing!).

In the first half, Houston was anything but impressive and I couldn’t stop wondering how much better the defense would have looked if Jadeveon Clowney was in there to put a stop to the run. I fully expected that to be part of the narrative when Houston lost... but, the Michael Jordan of football did it again. If there’s any doubt that Deshaun Watson is the greatest quarterback in Houston football history, this game should have laid it to rest, specifically this play:

I’ve watched it a dozen times and still can’t figure out how he slipped through that other than sheer force of will.

Now, if Houston can improve the O-Line further this offseason, and find a way to actually generate QB pressure from the front 7 again, the Texans will outshine the Bills for years to come as well.



Deshaun Watson will win this organization a SB ring. I am sure of it. Not likely it will happen this season, but it will happen. It was amazing to see him have a terrible first half, only to figure it out in the second half and lead this team to victory. I owe J.J. Watt an apology. When he went to Injured Reserve in October. I thought he needed to go. His presence and performance today made a difference, and played a huge part of winning this game. The Bills are a tough team. They’ll be great for years to come, especially with the decline of Tom Brady. We beat a very good team today. We are in for a fight for our lives against either Kansas City or Baltimore, but as of now I am extremely proud of this win!




The Texans had no business winning this game. Their game plan was poor, the execution of the game plan was poor, the tackling was poor, everything was POOR.

Why did they win this game? Because the Bills did not win it. The Texans should be proud of their comeback, but not in their performance as a whole.

The win should not take away from the fact that the offense had no points through 43 minutes and that the defense could not tackle to save their lives.

However, I think this will work in their favor for next week’s game. They have so much that they can correct and improve upon that they will put their focus into improving and working it into their game plan for Sunday.

The Texans got past this game by the skin of their teeth and they need to know and understand that. They should not be playing next weekend, but they will.

Luckily for the Texans, everyone gets a clean slate after every round and they qualified to play next week, but they can’t just mull over this game and pretend it did not happen. They very nearly lost and they should be grateful that they didn’t.



All I have heard was that this was the most fun game played at NRG in franchise history. Unbelievable that this team was able to come back, unusual for a Texans team. It was a remarkable win for Bill O’Brien’s resume and sets a standard for Watson in the playoffs. Obviously our thoughts would be quite different if we lost, but all that matters is that we won. Just. Win. Baby.

The Texans average 19 points per game without Fuller. They got exactly 19 points during the game time. If we can get Fuller back against Kansas City that would be remarkably helpful.

The offensive line has looked putrid before, but on Saturday they looked miserable. Any ounce of pressure was too much for them. Roderick Johnson can not pass block and Chris Clark cannot rum block. Laremy Tunsil had a weak performance. Not having Jordan Akins casually forced us to make a lot of personnel decisions.

Gareon Conley had a great game starting with Jonathan Joseph out. Some excellent plays downfield and a couple great tackles.

Speaking of tackles, we missed a ton. Whitney Mercilus struggled bringing down Singletary. The only guy I thought had a great game tackling was Zach Cunningham. I mean Watt did well when he was in, but Cunningham proved he had a pro bowl year.

Victory is ours and onto Kansas City. If we get Will Fuller, Joseph, and Akins back, I think we have a chance.