Texans need to protect injured Deshaun Watson

HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans have won three straight games to get back to .500, but it hasn't been easy for quarterback Deshaun Watson.

The Texans' offensive line has struggled to protect its young quarterback, who played in Sunday's 20-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills with injured ribs. The unit gave up seven sacks and 12 quarterback hits. Watson has now been hit 66 times and sacked 25 times this season.

Watson was 15-of-25 for 177 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. He also fumbled the ball three times, losing one. Watson now has eight career interceptions under duress, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Only Derek Carr and DeShone Kizer have more such interceptions since 2017.

Despite all that, Watson's coaches and teammates said he fought hard to play.

"When you've got a guy that sacrifices everything when he's hurt, everybody around him better do the same thing, especially if it's your quarterback," defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said. "Everybody put that on their shoulders this week and just tried to give it all up for him.

"We love that guy. He's a big leader to this team and a big part of this team. We need him each and every week. And for him to come out there and show he's got the confidence he had today is big for the defense and everybody around him."

Watson didn't want to blame his poor play on the injury -- he and the offense struggled, as they scored only 13 points, 10 of which came after takeaways -- but did acknowledge he's focused on recovering from his injury before Houston plays the Jaguars in Week 7.

"Right now I'm just trying to obviously recover, get myself healthy, ready to play and watch this film, learn from this film, correct those mistakes that I made today and what we made on offense," Watson said.

The second-year quarterback threw for fewer than 300 yards for the first time since the Texans' Week 1 loss. Wide receiver Will Fuller V said he thought Watson was "calm," saying he "didn't even notice anything was wrong with him."

O'Brien said Watson’s injury did not affect the playcalling and called his quarterback "a fighter."

The Texans' offense could not get into a rhythm for most of the game. Houston had 15 first downs and converted 23 percent of the time on third down. The Texans were outgained by the Bills and had 216 total yards.

Left tackle Julie'n Davenport said it was hard to see Watson on the ground so frequently and acknowledged the offensive line has work to do before the Texans travel to Jacksonville. Although the sacks haven't been there for Jacksonville this season, the Jaguars have the talent to take advantage of this weak offensive line with pass rushers Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue.

"If I do anything to hurt him, I feel like I let him down," Davenport said. "And I can't have that. He's got to be able to trust me and trust us as an O-line. So we're going to get right."