Deshaun Watson appeared to be in Melvin Ingram’s grasp until he slipped away, fled the pocket and lobbed a playground pass to wide-open tight end Jordan Akins, who sprinted away for the Houston Texans’ final touchdown.
“Things went out of whack, but then Deshaun — that’s just normal,” Akins said. “If he’s scrambling, the play is never dead.”
Given Watson’s escape abilities, the Texans also feel they’re never out of any game, even down by double digits on the road against a tough conference rival.
Watson threw for 351 yards and hit Akins with two of his three touchdown passes, and J.J. Watt had two of the Texans’ five sacks of Philip Rivers in their 27-20 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.
Akins made the first two TD catches of his career and fellow tight end Darren Fells also caught a TD pass for the Texans (2-1), who rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit with 20 consecutive points on the way to their franchise’s second-ever win over the Chargers (1-2).
“You’re never out of anything when you have him at quarterback,” said Watt, who also forced a fumble by Rivers in the third quarter.
Houston went up 27-17 with 9:40 to play on that typically magical effort by Watson . The quarterback got away from Ingram and found Akins wandering free for a 53-yard catch-and-run TD.
“I was just going out there playing ball, having fun, trying to make things happen,” Watson said with a smile that indicated he knows it wasn’t that simple.
The Chargers trimmed the lead to seven points and then drove into Houston territory in the final minute, converting two fourth downs along the way.
But a completion that would have put the Chargers inside the Houston 10 was wiped out by a holding penalty on left tackle Trent Scott with 24 seconds to play, and Rivers threw two final incompletions.
Keenan Allen caught 13 passes for a career-high 183 yards and two touchdowns from Rivers, who passed for 318 yards in the Bolts’ second straight frustrating loss. Los Angeles also fumbled deep in Texans territory and had an interception and a touchdown both wiped out by penalties, losing a touchdown for the third time in their two defeats.
“We keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” Allen said. “Coming out in the second half, we’re not moving the ball. Penalties every time we make a play. Score a touchdown, we get a penalty. Interception, penalty. We’ve got to find a way to get over that.”
The Chargers have a losing record after three games for the fifth consecutive season. Los Angeles also started 1-2 last season before reeling off six straight wins during an 11-2 finish.
D.J. Reader had 1½ sacks while the Texans constantly hounded Rivers, but Houston’s offense was inert until Watson hit Kenny Stills on a 38-yard flea-flicker in the second quarter, followed by a 16-yard TD pass to Fells.
Rivers led an 89-yard TD drive shortly before halftime culminating in Allen’s second TD on a 12-yard grab to put the Chargers up 17-7.
But Carlos Hyde scored his first touchdown for Houston on a 3-yard run midway through the third quarter, and the Texans’ defense promptly created a turnover for its 16th consecutive game.
After Rivers’ fumble ended Los Angeles’ next drive deep in Texans territory, Watson hit a wide-open Akins for a 15-yard TD to put Houston ahead late in the third.
“The last two games, we played amazing football for three quarters,” Chargers safety Rayshawn Jenkins said. “I’m telling you, amazing. And then the (fourth) quarter is not us.”
WATT VS WATT
Watt faced off for the first time against his brother, Chargers fullback Derek Watt. They embraced and posed for photos afterward.
“There were a couple of times I actually thought about it,” J.J. Watt said. “One time when he chipped me right in the ribs, which wasn’t that cool. Other than that, you just snap into football mode and you don’t realize it. Once I sit on the plane and actually think about it, that’s a moment I’ll never forget. We literally dreamt about that growing up.”
OLDER MAN RIVERS
Rivers made his 209th consecutive start, tying Eli Manning for the second-longest streak in NFL history. The 37-year-old Rivers sought out the 24-year-old Watson before the game.
“To come in his house and compete with him is special,” Watson said. “He called my name and said, ‘Great job. Continue to grow and have a bright future.’ And he said he’ll see me in January, so I’m looking forward to that.”
Allen has asserted himself as one of the NFL’s best receivers since the Chargers’ move to Los Angeles, but he hadn’t had a multi-TD receiving game since Nov. 19, 2017. He surpassed his career high in yardage on a 15-yard catch on fourth down with two minutes to play.
Texans: DE Charles Omenihu left the field with a knee injury shortly before halftime. He returned in the second half.
Chargers: TE Virgil Green was sidelined with a groin injury in the second half. … Three untested defensive backs started in their injury-filled secondary when CB Michael Davis was unable to play.
Texans: Return home to host the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
Chargers: Travel to Miami to face the winless Dolphins on Sunday.
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