Sunday night’s win over the Patriots wasn’t just another victory for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The 28-22 result carried a little extra juice because it marked the first time in Watson’s three-year NFL career that he had edged Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“As far as big wins, honestly, it’s pretty big,” Watson said. “Really, just because it’s Brady. I was 0-2 against Brady. Who knows when he’s going to hang it up? That’s my role model, a guy that’s been doing it forever — over 20 years. I’m only alive for  years, so it’s pretty awesome to finally get one and to see the love and respect we have for each other.”
After the game, Watson and Brady shared an embrace on the field. The pair forged a bond in August 2017, when the Patriots and Texans held joint practices at the Greenbrier in West Virginia. Watson said after Sunday’s game that, in addition to congratulating him and telling him to stay healthy, Brady mentioned he was going to reach out during the offseason.
“If he’s going to give me the opportunity to check in and learn from him, I’m definitely going to take it,” Watson said.
Sunday was Watson’s best career outing against the Patriots. He completed 18 of his 25 pass attempts (72 percent) for 234 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked three times for a loss of 16 yards but did not throw any interceptions. Watson also found the end zone as a receiver, fielding a short pass on a trick play from wideout DeAndre Hopkins.
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In the locker room after the game, Watson elected to present the game ball to coach Bill O’Brien, who also had just earned his first victory over the Patriots, where he had spent five seasons on the coaching staff.
“It’s big just for both of us,” Watson said. “Just me being the quarterback of the team — it really came from everyone — but for me to present that, I bet it meant a lot to him and us as an organization. It was awesome.”
O’Brien was previously 0-5 against his former team.
“He probably teared up and cried in the back,” Watson joked.
With the win, the Texans improve to 8-4 and sit atop the AFC South.
“It builds our confidence,” Watson said. “It builds the momentum for us in continuing to try and push on. It just shows us and shows the world that we can play with anybody on any given day if we come out and play.”