(Reuters) - In a campaign plagued by changing quarterbacks and critical injuries, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins has remained a constant for the Houston Texans, emerging as one of the top catchers in the NFL.
With his flowing hair and highlight reel grabs, the third-year Hopkins has single-handedly kept the Houston offense afloat during a tumultuous season.
Hopkins once again worked his magic on Monday when he sparked the Texans to a 10-6 upset victory over the previously undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.
After Houston lost their starting quarterback Brian Hoyer to a potential concussion in the third quarter, Hopkins caught a one-handed touchdown pass from backup T.J. Yates to put his team ahead for good.
“Unbelievable catch,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt told reporters of Hopkins’ acrobatic leap and left-handed grab.
“(Hopkins is) having a heck of a year. I don’t think people give him enough credit for what he’s been doing. But he’s an incredible receiver.” Hopkins’ catch was just the latest of his aerial show as he has made a habit of spectacular leaping grabs and once caught a pass off his helmet earlier this year.
The 23-year-old has also recorded TD receptions from three different quarterbacks during a Texans campaign that has had uncertainty at the QB position.
Four-time Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster has also been a big loss for Houston after he played in just four games before a season-ending injury.
But Hopkins has carried the load with 71 catches for 920 yards and seven touchdowns through just nine games.
Houston (4-5) has fed off the production and is now tied for first place in the AFC South with the Indianapolis Colts.
Drafted in the first round by the Texans in 2013, Hopkins learned under longtime standout receiver Andre Johnson.
But after Johnson and Houston parted ways and he signed with the Colts in the off-season, Hopkins assumed the lead role in the passing game and has not looked back.
“He’s one of the best receivers in the league,” Yates said. “If he’s got one on one coverage that’s a good match-up.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien