The saddest news of the week for NFL fans was the torn ACL for Houston Texans quarteback Deshaun Watson. And though initial reports had it that Watson tore his ACL in a non-contact moment during practice on Thursday, the damage may in fact have happened or was set in motion during the fourth quarter of Houston’s 41-38 loss to the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday.
With the Seahawks leading Houston 27-24, Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark jumped over Texans running back Lamar Miller and rolled up on Watson, who immediately grabbed his right knee on the play. Watson finished the game, didn't complain about the injury after it, and did not get treatment on it last week, per sources.
Doctors and physical trainers who reviewed Clark's hit on Watson said the quarterback planted and then went to an internal rotation of his femur with stress on his knee -- the makings of an ACL injury.
"I can't be 100 percent sure," one doctor said of the chances that Watson tore his ACL against Seattle, "but I wouldn't be surprised. Something happened as he grabbed his knee. And if you look at it in slow motion, one mechanism of injury is there."
This was actually first suggested here by Field Gulls reader Acert93 in the comment section on Thursday.
Watson was well on his way to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year after throwing 19 touchdowns in his first seven games, an NFL record. He had over 400 yards passing and four touchdowns in the Texans’ loss that ultimately ended up as his final game of the season. Prior to the game, I had heard both excitement from Houston fans about his rookie season (obviously) and expressions of caution based on rookie seasons like that of Robert Griffin III.
Griffin won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2012 over Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. He then tore his ACL in a wild card playoff game against the Seahawks that season and never fully recovered. Griffin played in five games for the Cleveland Browns last season (he’s the only quarterback to win a game for the Browns in the last two years) but is currently unemployed. Luck, coincidentally, is also not playing at all in 2017; reports are that his shoulder issue dates back to a game against the Tennessee Titans in 2015.
There is also the case of Tony Romo, who broke a bone in his back when sacked by Cliff Avril in the 2016 preseason, basically marking the end of his career as well.
There is of course a lot of hope that Watson — who tore his ACL while enrolled at Clemson and recovered in five months, leading them to back-to-back national championship game appearances — will come back next season as strong as ever. It is unfortunate regardless of when it happened, but it just so happens that it may have been against the Seahawks, just as RGIII’s was.
Let’s hope that Watson never has to play for the Browns though.
Update, 11:33 AM PST
Resident Twitter doctor and former Chargers team physician Dr. David Chao finds it highly unlikely that Watson tore his ACL prior to Thursday.
No one can be 100 percent sure by video, but to me, neither play looked to injure his ACL.
It would be almost unheard of for Watson to not have had both knees checked by a team doctors after the game since he was rolled up on his lead (left) leg. And there is virtually no chance Texans head team physician Dr. Walter Lowe, a leading ACL specialist, would have missed an ACL tear.
Perhaps people are searching for explanations where none are needed.
Yes, the reports are that Watson suffered the injury Thursday while going less than full speed in a non-contact play. That may seem too innocuous, but it is absolutely consistent with an ACL injury.