The Texans unexpectedly had a chance to upend the Patriots and advance to the first AFC title game in franchise history. Down 24-16 in the fourth quarter and starting a drive from their own 11 after forcing a New England punt, quarterback Brock Osweiler threw a high pass to receiver Deandre Hopkins, who got a hand on it and then saw it bounce into the hands of Patriots cornerback Logan Ryan.
Two plays later, the score was 31-16 and the game was over.
“You need to capitalize on great opportunities against a football team like this and even though we hadn’t done that throughout the game, at the end of the day, we were still just down eight points at the start of the fourth quarter,” Osweiler told reporters after the 34-16 loss. “I made a clear read. I thought I was going to have a big explosive game completion and I think the ball just got away from me a little bit. It sailed a tick high and next thing you know, it’s intercepted, so that’s my fault, I’ll clean that up. I can promise you I’m going to throw about a thousand of those routes in this offseason and get that fixed.”
There’s no reason to doubt that Osweiler will do just that; he badly wants to be a franchise quarterback, and he’s doing everything he thinks he needs to do to get there. But no matter how many times he makes the same throw in the offseason, there’s no replacement for stepping up and getting it done when it counts.
Time after time, with the exception of last weekend’s duel again Raiders third-string rookie quarterback Connor Cook, Osweiler failed in 2016 to make franchise-quarterback plays in franchise-quarterback moments. While the habits he learned from four years with Peyton Manning can’t hurt, Osweiler ultimately needs to deliver in big moments.
The Texans gave him $37 million fully guaranteed because they thought he would. Whatever he does between now and September, Osweiler needs to find a way to seize the few and fleeting opportunities to become a true franchise quarterback.