Tyrann Mathieu explains why he let up on potential big hit on Deshaun Watson

Tyrann Mathieu has seen your criticism, but he doesn’t agree.

The Chiefs safety was criticized by some for not laying into Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson during the team’s playoff game Sunday. On the play, Mathieu was coming in hot on a safety blitz and had a clear line to the quarterback. But instead of hitting him, he could clearly be seen letting up.

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The video doesn’t show it, but the context of this play is very important. The score is 51-31 and the ball was snapped just ahead of the two-minute warning (2:02). Houston had no timeouts left. So even if Houston scores on that drive, all Kansas City needed was one more possession to drain the clock. In other words, the game was pretty much over.

So there wasn’t any need for Mathieu to light up Watson in that situation, because it would have been completely unnecessary. And that’s essentially what the safety said when he was made aware of the criticism.

Mathieu was teammates with Watson just a year ago, so that likely played some role in his decision. But still, it seems Mathieu would have made that choice regardless of who was at quarterback. Context matters, and that play wasn’t the time for a big hit on the QB.

At that point in the game, you’re just waiting for the clock to run out. No need to risk injury — for either yourself or the person you’re hitting — by hitting your opponent as hard as you can.

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