We’re back to Thursday Night Football being fun after two weeks that defied that trend. The Miami Dolphins vs. Houston Texans game had a little bit of everything. There were wild catches, a mind-blowing catch that didn’t count, a catch that was fumbled but then still turned into a 46-yard gain, a failed onside kick in the third quarter, terrible penalties, a wide receiver throwing a touchdown pass, and ... J.J. Watt being J.J. Watt.
“We just wanted to have fun ... light up the scoreboard on primetime and that’s what we did,” Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson said after defeating the Dolphins, 42-23.
Let’s take a by-the-numbers look at a game we weren’t expecting to be all that exciting, but that turned into must-watch television.
6: Seconds before the first penalty of the game. It happened on the opening kickoff as Miami was called for an illegal formation. They ended up re-doing the kickoff, during which the Texans were then penalized for an illegal formation.
8.0: J.J. Watt notched his eighth sack of the season in the first quarter, which is tied for the most in the league. He finished the game with four tackles in addition to the sack.
4:28: Total time the Dolphins led for after taking a 7-0 lead with 5 minutes and three seconds remaining in the first quarter.
3: Watson became the third player in NFL history to throw 30+ touchdown passes in his first 15 career games. He joined Hall of Famers Kurt Warner (36) and Dan Marino (32) to accomplish that feat. Watson finished the game with five touchdowns, reaching 34 touchdowns in 15 career games. Additionally, he now has four games with four or more touchdown passes and two games with five or more touchdown passes since 2017 (which rank first in the NFL in both categories). He’s done that despite missing nine games last season.
71.6: The difference between Watson and Brock Osweiler’s halftime passer ratings. Watson’s was 124.6 while Osweiler’s was a measly 53.2. Yet, Watson threw for just 74 yards while Oswiler threw for 122. Watson finished the game with a near-perfect 156.0 passer rating. Osweiler improved his mark slightly in the second half, finishing the game with a 65.3 rating. He failed to throw a touchdown pass in the game.
7: First half penalties, many of which were head scratchers. That included an illegal formation call in which the flag was thrown while players were already running into the locker room for halftime. The officials made the players come back out and re-play the down to run out the final 15 seconds on the clock. Bill O’Brien was not pleased and had backup quarterback Brandon Weeden run onto the field to take a knee.
34: Yards that DeAndre Hopkins should demand back after making the play of the season and then having it called back as he was penalized for offensive pass interference.
It's a crime for this to not count.pic.twitter.com/WXkPFvVG6W— Rebecca Toback (@Rebecca_Toback) October 26, 2018
3: Penalties on a single fourth-quarter play in which Watson threw a deep pass to Will Fuller. They were: defensive pass interference on Dolphins cornerback Bobby McCain, defensive holding on McCain, and illegal contact on cornerback Xavien Howard. Fuller was ruled out nearly immediately after the play with a knee injury, though that didn’t seem to have anything to do with the three penalties called.
134: DeVante Parker had a shaky start to the season and just this week his agent blasted Dolphins head coach Adam Gase and the team. There have also been trade rumors and a nagging quad injury, which followed a finger injury that kept him out at the start of the year. But Parker had a career-high 134 receiving yards on six catches in the Dolphins’ loss. Maybe it will lead to a resurgence for the fourth-year receiver. Or, maybe it will lead to him being traded before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
25%: Watson threw 20 passes on Thursday night, four of which were incompletions and five of which were touchdowns. 25 percent of his throws went for touchdowns and he completed 80 percent of his passes. Just wow.
46: Osweiler’s longest pass of the night was completely unexpected. Jakeem Grant completed a long pass from the Dolphins quarterback, then fumbled the ball into midair after taking a big hit, only for Parker to miraculously catch it and save the Dolphins from further disaster.
65: The Dolphins actually ran 10 more offensive plays (65) than the Texans (55) and had more first downs (18) than the Texans (17). But the Texans offense was simply efficient and made the most of their 28 minutes and 51 seconds on the field.
0: Sacks on Watson. For the first time in his NFL career, Watson finished a game without being sacked. Coming into Week 8, the Texans led the NFL in sacks-allowed (26).
42-23: The final score in a game that didn’t even seem that close. The Dolphins’ only passing touchdown came on a Danny Amendola pass to Kenyan Drake. Drake also had a rushing score.