HOUSTON (AP) — DeAndre Hopkins has made a lot of great catches in his time with the Houston Texans, but his latest one might be his best.
The 49-yard catch and run that included two nifty spin moves and set up the winning field goal in overtime against Dallas has inspired memes and internet tributes.
It also caused a tough night for Buffalo coach Sean McDermott, whose team visits Houston on Sunday.
“I didn’t sleep much (Sunday) night because of watching that,” he said.
It was the talk of Houston’s locker room this week with everyone from players to coaching raving about the play where he evaded several would-be tacklers to help the Texans to their first win over the Cowboys since 2002.
“It was crazy,” receiver Will Fuller said. “I was right in front of him. I saw the whole thing. I think Hop is the best there is, so just to see that live is just great.”
Hopkins, who was drafted by the Texans in the first round in 2013, said it was probably the best catch of his career.
“I think so because I set my team up for the win,” he said.
Houston’s defenders, especially the team’s defensive backs, watched the play with amazement, thankful that they aren’t tasked with covering the two-time Pro Bowler.
Texans safety Tyrann Mathieu said when a receiver makes moves such as Hopkins did on that play there’s really no way to defend him.
“I don’t think you can stop it,” he said. “At that point it’s just him doing him. He’s going in slow motion, everything is just moving slow for him and it’s tough.”
Hopkins, who signed a five-year, $81 million extension before last season, loved the videos made about his catch and was particularly amused with one that showed him spinning past a ballerina. He said he doesn’t really think about or practice the spin moves, they’re just something that comes naturally in certain situations.
“Just instinctively,” he said. “All it takes is a glance sometimes for you to know where someone is. Playing football for so long, you kind of anticipate the hit like that.”
Coach Bill O’Brien wasn’t as concerned about the flashy aspect of the play as everyone else, but he was pleased to see him add yards to the catch with such a nice run.
“He’s really worked hard over the last five years … (on) running after the catch, and he’s really done a good job of that,” O’Brien said. “I think in the past couple games we’ve had close to 300 yards of yards after catch, and he has a lot of those.”
The only criticism some people had about the play was the security of the ball as Hopkins held onto it with just one hand through part of the run. But Hopkins has such large hands that he insisted that the ball was perfectly secure even when he wasn’t holding onto it with both hands.
“Sometimes me holding it in one hand is stronger than some people holding it with two,” he said.
The play is the highlight of a strong season for Hopkins, who leads the NFL with 594 yards receiving. He’s had three 100-yard games this year and has surpassed the 150-yard mark in each of Houston’s past two games.
Second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson loves playing with Hopkins and enjoyed watching him make that play on Sunday.
“I’m always impressed with the things he does,” Watson said. “He’s a talented guy … he just continues to get better each and every year, but that’s something that he really expects of himself and I expect him to do the same thing.”
And Watson knows that he can always count on Hopkins when the team needs a big play.
“Just give him the opportunity to make a play and he’s going to make that play, and that’s what he did Sunday night,” Watson said.