Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson didn’t flinch despite being keenly aware that heavy hits and certain pain awaited him.

Watson’s alert reactions, toughness and knowledge of the Buffalo Bills’ coverage scheme led him to a clutch moment that ultimately decided the Texans’ dramatic overtime victory Saturday night.

Lined up in the shotgun formation at the Bills’ 44-yard line in overtime, Watson stood tall in the pocket as the Bills were sending an all-out blitz intended to bash him into the ground with the game on the line.

Watson saw that the Bills were running a zero blitz with no safety deployed in coverage. From Watson’s vantage point to his left at the line of scrimmage, safety Siran Neal made no secret that he was coming after him on a blitz. To Watson’s right, linebacker Matt Milano was charging across the line on another blitz.

And Watson knew that the Bills would expect him to target wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins against corner Kevin Johnson, who knew both Watson and Hopkins from his time with the Texans.

“I knew it was blitz zero, I knew I was going to have pressure,” Watson said. “I knew the ball was going to have to get out quick. But I was trying to make a play with D-Hop and just happened to be Kevin Johnson sitting over there at the corner spot, who’s been here for five years, who knows exactly where I wanted to go versus this coverage.”

Watson was right about the incoming punishment and chaos. He braced himself for the hits and bought his receivers enough time to break open.

First, Neal dashed toward Watson unblocked and delivered a huge shot as he drilled him in the back. Watson somehow kept his feet, bending his knees to keep his footing.

Another hit was coming, though. A split-second later, Watson got rocked in his shoulder and neck area by Milano as he ran around right offensive tackle Roderick Johnson with a fast rip move.

Watching the action unfold from the sideline on the Jumbotron, safety Justin Reid was concerned while keeping in mind it was Watson at the controls. It was Watson who managed to throw a touchdown pass in October against the Oakland Raiders after being kicked in the eye by defensive end Arden Key, leaving him bloodshot for weeks.

“I was actually watching the screen, I saw the blitz coming from the screen,” Reid said. “At that point, my heart sunk. I saw him come free. I was like, ‘Aw, man.’ And then he somehow, Houdini again. He done lost an eye this year. He done all those types of things.”

Either blow was hard enough to bring most quarterbacks down, but they failed to wrap Watson up after the initial pop. And Watson isn’t an ordinary quarterback.

He spun out of the contact from Milano and rolled to his right away from defensive tackle Corey Liuget. His movement created a passing lane, a clear bit of daylight as he saw running back Taiwan Jones, a special-teams ace who rarely plays on offense, wide open at the Bills’ 45-yard line.

Go down? Give up on the play? That isn’t in Watson’s DNA.

“Breaking the tackles, I knew I was going do that honestly,” Watson said. “I just knew I wasn’t going down. That’s just my mentality. You’re going to have to really force me down to the ground, that’s just me, especially in that situation.”

Said Milano: “It’s just like you saw, we missed the tackle. We just missed it. It’s that simple.”

Watson then found Jones on the right sideline.

“Once I split out, they kept blocking for me, and they gave me half-a-second to readjust my eyes and my helmet a bit to find Taiwan, and that’s what I did. He made a heck of a play to get us down inside the 10, so that was good.”

Watson wasn’t out of danger from another hit, the third one he would absorb on the play. Watson knew that he was going to get struck by defensive tackle Jordan Phillips, a 6-6, 341-pounder who lowered his right shoulder with full force into him.

Watson got rid of the football just in time before being crushed by Phillips, delivering a crisp spiral to Jones, who had made eye contact with the quarterback as he scrambled out of an unsafe pocket.

“So, he snuck off, and by the time I was trying to get it to Taiwan earlier, they were going to be right there,” Watson said. “The pressure was there. I just kind of braced myself and spun out of it, and I knew exactly where Taiwan was going to be at. That’s why I kind of flicked it out to him.”

A former Oakland Raiders fourth-round draft pick from Eastern Washington, Jones accelerated away from flailing safety Micah Hyde as he fell to the ground. Hopkins blocked All-Pro corner Tre’Davious White.

And Jones made it all the way down to the Bills’ 10-yard line, a historic sprint and play that led to a 28-yard game-winning field goal by kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn.

“Really it was just a great call and play by Deshaun Watson,” said Jones, 31, who signed with the Texans in May from Buffalo, where he was a captain on special teams. “I just happened to be in the right position. He made the adjustment to get me that route, and I don’t know how he got free but he did. It just shows what kind of athlete he is, and he was able to throw the ball to me right on point and the rest is history.”

A relieved Reid, could scarcely trust what his eyes had shown him. It was true, though. That just happened.

“Spun out of it, threw it to Taiwan,” Reid said. “Unbelievable feeling.”

It was emblematic of Watson’s unflappable style. Whether it was the national championship victory over Alabama or this latest heroics, the quarterback that Clemson coach Dabo Swinney compared to Michael Jordan had done it again.

“He got himself out of some major jams,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “The play to Taiwan at the end, obviously, was unbelievable. He’s got a huge heart. He’s been winning his whole life, and he knows how to win.”

None of this came as a surprise, though, to Watson’s teammates. They’ve seen this magic act before.

“You’re never out of the game when you have Deshaun Watson as your quarterback,” defensive end J.J. Watt said. “The guy is incredible. All we needed was a spark. You add Deshaun Watson to a spark, and you’re going to have one hell of a fire.

“The play he made at the end of the game, no one makes that play. The guy is unbelievable. I’m very lucky and thankful to have him as my quarterback, and that’s why you play the whole game.”

aaron.wilson@chron.com

twitter.com/aaronwilson_nfl

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