How Deshaun Watson got kicked in the face and still made the play of the year


I thought of three things watching a lot of Raiders-Texans:

1. How sick must the Bears be, as their season goes down the tubes, watching Deshaun Watson and—soon, again—Patrick Mahomes make beautiful football happen for the Texans and Chiefs, two-and-a-half years after they passed on both in the 2017 draft?

2. This was the kind of game, Raiders-Texans, that you felt Oakland was always going to make one more play. The Raiders never trailed for the first 53 minutes, and they just kept trumping every move Houston made. I thought: If Houston’s got any chance, Watson’s going to have to win it. He’s slithery and reliable and so on-point, even when he’s being chased all over creation. And he is ridiculously determined. You cannot teach desire. Watson has Russell Wilson/Tom Brady desire, and if Houston was going to win this game they probably didn’t deserve to win, Watson was going to have to steal it.

3. Some of his plays are so improbable, so rabbit-out-of-a-hat, that he looks like another southern kid at a young age, Brett Favre. Both Watson and Mahomes have some Favre in them.

“I wear 4 for a reason,” Watson told me from Houston. “That last big play, that was definitely a Favre-type play.”

It’s an overreaction to say Watson’s nine-yard TD pass to tight end Darren Fells saved Houston’s season. The 27-24 win over the Raiders advanced them to 5-3 and kept them a half-game behind Indianapolis in the AFC South, which is deceivingly good. The division went 4-0 Sunday.

I would argue, though, that it was the play of the year. Raiders up 24-20 with 6:30 left. At the Oakland 9-yard line, Watson took the shotgun snap. Surprise! Pocket caved. Watson knew he was in trouble right away. “I was trying to buy some time, and the first guy [defensive end Arden Key] kinda grabbed me when I stepped up. I just tried to swing him out.”

Kinda grabbed me. Truth is, Key had both arms around Watson’s waist. This should have been a sack. But Watson wriggled semi-violently to escape Key at the 17-yard line, and as Key fell to the ground, the top of his right shoe found the gap between the bars on Watson facemask. “Not sure if it caught me in the eyeball, but it went through the [mask] and got me,” Watson said. “My whole left eye just shut—went blank, went blind.”

As Watson regained his balance, he pushed the helmet up almost imperceptibly so he could have a view of the field with his right eye. “That one was starting to go shut too,” he said. “I felt it. All I remember is my tight end rolling right with me, and then the second guy [defensive end Maxx Crosby] started to tackle me. I saw the tight end, and I threw, and I went down. I didn’t see anything when I was down. I just heard the crowd go crazy. Figured we scored. Then I just laid there hoping my eyeball was good.”

Almost sacked twice. Kicked in the face. Left eye reflexively closed. Vaguely sees tight end 19 yards away. Throws while looking out of one eye.

Touchdown. Texans win.

“What am I gonna say?” a crushed Jon Gruden said in the other locker room. “You see Michael Jordan, some of the great athletic plays, you gotta tip your hat to the guy.”

I asked Watson if he knew he was nearly sacked twice on the play by different guys.

“I felt even when they did grab me, I’d have the athleticism to get it out, somewhere,” he said. “I didn’t care what was behind me. I didn’t care what was in front of me. I was gonna make something happen.”

Read those last three sentences from Watson. Isn’t that what you want from your quarterback?

While I spoke to Watson, I looked down at a text that might have been sent just prior to the call, or during it, from a Texans PR staffer. He has to see the doctor again. Please be quick. Watson said the eye is fine, but to be sure, the team will have him checked out today after a night of rest. Expect him to be okay. And it’s not just the Texans who need him. If there is a Game 7 in the World Series on Wednesday night, Watson is due on the field before the game to do something to fire up the Astros crowd. My guess: It’ll be effective.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America here.

NFL quarterback rankings 2023: Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of upcoming NFL season


While the NFL is a league that is ever-changing, some things are set to stay the same in 2023 — like the revealing of Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown.

Last year’s list saw Josh Allen take his place atop the quarterback throne, with Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert not far behind at No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. It was, however, Mahomes who would ultimately reign over all NFL quarterbacks at the end of the season, as the 27-year-old collected both the NFL MVP honors and his second Lombardi Trophy.

This NFL offseason, however, has brought some intriguing adjustments that are likely to shake up Simms’ rankings.

While some signal-callers such as Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson found their prolonged home with massive contract signings, others will be venturing to a new franchise in search of a fresh start. Aaron Rodgers‘ trade to the New York Jets is unquestionably the most staggering shift, but other quarterbacks on the move such as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo cannot be forgotten.

RELATED: Mike Florio gives an inside look into the Lamar Jackson deal

And with three of the first four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft being spent on a quarterback, emerging talent will likely turn the tides for some franchises this upcoming season.

See below for Chris Simms’ top 40 QB countdown ahead of the upcoming season. Be sure to subscribe to Chris Simms Unbuttoned for more on the 2023 NFL season as well as an unfiltered look at the NFL featuring player access, unabashed opinion, X&O film breakdown and stories from a life in and around football.

RELATED: Peter King’s latest offseason NFL power rankings

Chris Simms’ 2023 Top 40 QB Countdown:

40. Desmond Ridder (ATL)

39. Sam Howell (WAS)

38. Bryce Young (CAR)

37. CJ Stroud (HOU)

36. Anthony Richardson (IND)

35. Mike White (MIA)

34. Gardner Minshew (IND)

33. Taylor Heinicke (ATL)

32. Jarrett Stidham (DEN)

31. Jordan Love (GB)

30. Davis Mills (HOU)

29. Tyler Huntley (BAL)

28. Andy Dalton (CAR)

27. Sam Darnold (SF)

26. Brock Purdy (SF)

25. Kenny Pickett (PIT)

24. Baker Mayfield (TB)

23. Justin Fields (CHI)

22. Jimmy Garoppolo (LV)

21. Tua Tagovailoa (MIA)

20. Mac Jones (NE)

19. Kyler Murray (AZ)

18. Derek Carr (NO)

17. Jared Goff (DET)

16. Ryan Tannehill (TEN)

15. Geno Smith (SEA)

14. Russell Wilson (DEN)

2023 NFL Schedule Release: Start time, how to watch, live stream, channel


With another exciting NFL Draft in the books, teams can now turn their gaze toward the road to Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The path to Super Bowl glory, however, is about to become abundantly more clear with the 2023 NFL season schedule release.

This year’s NFL season schedule release is nearly here, with the entirety of the 2023 NFL schedule being unveiled on Thursday, May 11 at 8 p.m. ET on both Peacock and NFL Network. See below for everything you need to know for one of the offseason’s most anticipated events.

RELATED: Click here for full analysis on Rounds 1-7 of the 2023 NFL Draft

When will the 2023 NFL season schedule be released?

While all 272 matchups have been known since the conclusion of the 2022 regular season, the order and dates for these games have remained a mystery. The secret is nearly out, however, with every NFL game on the brink of revelation.

The full 2023 NFL schedule will be released on Thursday, May 11 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

How can I watch the 2023 NFL season schedule release?

The 2023 NFL season schedule release will take place Thursday, May 11 on Peacock, NFL Network, and the NFL app at 8 p.m. ET.

While the entirety of the schedule will be unveiled at that time, select games have already been and will continue to be released prior to the official event. Ahead of the 2023 NFL season schedule release, the following games will be announced:

Who will play in the 2023 NFL Kickoff game?

The first game of the 2023-24 NFL season will see the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs take the field in Arrowhead Stadium.

The opponent that will meet Patrick Mahomes and company in Kansas City, however, remains to be revealed.

Which NFL teams have international games in 2023?

While the majority of the matchups set to take place next season have yet to be announced, the league has already revealed which teams will head overseas for international showdowns.

Below is the full list of international NFL games for the 2023-24 season, with three in London, U.K., and two in Frankfurt, Germany.

Falcons vs. Jaguars: Week 4, Oct. 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Wembley Stadium in London, U.K.

Jaguars vs. Bills: Week 5, Oct. 8 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Ravens vs. Titans: Week 6, Oct. 15 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, U.K.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs: Week 9, Nov. 5 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

Colts vs. Patriots: Week 10, Nov. 12 at 9:30 a.m. ET | Frankfurt Stadium in Frankfurt, Germany

RELATED: NFL’s 2023 international games full of “star power”

When is the Super Bowl and where will it be taking place?

Stars will be shining bright in Las Vegas, Nevada, for Super Bowl LVIII, set to take place on Feb. 11, 2024, at the home of the Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.

This will be the first Super Bowl to ever take place in Las Vegas, which hosted the 2023 Pro Bowl and 2022 NFL Draft.

Be sure to follow ProFootballTalk for the latest news, updates, and storylines about the upcoming NFL season!