Deshaun Watson produced a season-high 430 yards of offense in third-ranked Clemson’s 37-34 win at then 14th-ranked Florida State on Saturday night, leading the Tigers to their first win in Tallahassee since 2006.
It was one of Clemson’s best wins this season, but Watson said on Monday that it wasn’t one of his best games.
“Stats can seem like it’s one of the best games,” Watson said, “but personally, watching film on myself, it wasn’t.”
The junior quarterback completed 27-of-43 passes for a season-high-tying 378 yards while rushing for 52 yards on 17 carries.
Watson threw for two touchdowns, including the game-winner, but wishes he could have back his two interceptions that Florida State turned into 14 points.
After Watson threw his second pick midway through the third quarter, Florida State running back Dalvin Cook scored on a 43-yard touchdown run, and the Seminoles didn’t trail again until Watson’s game-winning touchdown pass to Jordan Leggett with 2:06 remaining.
“I felt I did some good things, but at the same time I made some poor decisions,” Watson said.
Clemson scored on its first two drives of the game thanks in large part to Watson, who went 9-of-10 for 98 yards and a touchdown to start the game. His 18-yard run on the second possession set up a 4-yard touchdown toss to Hunter Renfrow that gave Clemson a 14-0 lead with less than two minutes left in the first quarter.
The Tigers had all the momentum until Florida State cornerback Marquez White intercepted Watson early in the second quarter and the Seminoles got on the board six plays later with a touchdown run by Dalvin Cook.
“At the time of making those decisions, I wish I would have been able to pull it back,” Watson said. “But at the same time it’s a learning lesson.”
When it mattered most, though, Watson stepped up.
Down by five points with 3:23 left in the game, Watson led a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. His 34-yard touchdown pass to Leggett gave Clemson the lead for good with 2:06 left.
Earlier in the fourth quarter with Clemson down by eight points, Watson directed a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that featured three third-down conversions and cut the Tigers’ deficit to two.
With the win, Watson became the first Clemson quarterback to beat Florida State in consecutive seasons. He also moved into third place in Clemson history with 26 career wins by a starting quarterback.
“This is what we’re built for,” Watson said of Clemson’s comeback victory. “We practice this every Wednesday, being down or being up depending on the situation, and having the opportunity to win the game and solidify the win.”
Watson made some costly mistakes, but he also made the plays Clemson needed to get the win, remain undefeated and maintain control of its destiny in the College Football Playoff hunt.
“Personally, I feel like all the wins are big, but it’s good to go down there in a primetime game at night,” Watson said. “The whole world was watching, and we haven’t won down there in 10 years, so it was one of the best overall teams wins to be able to go down there and pull it out.”