Two Houston Texans with Katy ties played significant roles in the Texans’ 22-19 AFC Wild Card playoff win over the Buffalo Bills on Jan. 4 at NRG Stadium.
Katy native and former Taylor High standout Cullen Gillaspia played special teams and saw snaps on offense at fullback, while outside linebacker Jacob Martin, who calls Katy his hometown and whose parents live in Katy, made a couple of big plays on defense.
Gillaspia, a rookie seventh-round draft pick, was the lead blocker on Deshaun Watson’s 20-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that provided the Texans’ first score of the game.
“We were down and wanted to make a spark,” said Watson, who dragged two Bills with him into the end zone. “I made a play … Gilly, 12th man, came and got in front of me and made a sly move, and I just knew I had to find something to keep going. I knew I wasn’t going down and just kept pushing forward and got into the end zone.”
After the game, Gillaspia told the Houston Chronicle, “I was just doing my job. Deshaun is a great runner. I got on the guy and he did the rest.”
Gillaspia also tweeted afterward: “Credit to my quarterback. Made a great play with his legs.”
Gillaspia played eight offensive snaps against the Bills. He had only played 13 total in the regular season, and none since Week 8.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Gillaspia, 24, is renown as arguably the best “12th Man” in Texas A&M football history. He has played mostly special teams for Houston this season, with six total tackles as a member of that personnel coming into the Bills game. He also had a kick return for two yards against the Bills.
Gillaspia’s six special teams tackles—three solo and three assisted—rank fourth on the Texans.
“He does a good job,” coach Bill O’Brien said on Dec. 16. “He takes a lot of pride in his role on special teams. That’s the primary reason why he was drafted. Obviously, he was the 12th Man at (Texas) A&M, he’s a Houston guy, he’s from Katy. He loves it and he works real hard.”
The 6-2, 242-pound Martin, 24, was acquired by the Texans from the Seattle Seahawks in the Jadeveon Clowney trade on Aug. 31.
Martin, a second-year pro, is a defensive end and outside linebacker and has played well for Houston, totaling 11 tackles with 3.5 sacks, three tackles for a loss and a forced fumble as mostly a pass-rushing specialist.
Against the Bills, Martin had a sack and a fumble recovery. His most notable impact, however, came with 1:37 left in the fourth quarter. With Buffalo trailing 19-16 and on 4th-and-23 from the Houston 42-yard line, Martin got a huge sack of quarterback Josh Allen for a 19-yard loss to force a key turnover on downs.
“Jacob with a sack was a massive play,” defensive end J.J. Watt said.
As a baby, Martin lived in the Third Ward of Houston before moving to Alief and then Katy. His family moved to Colorado when he was in elementary school, but is now back in Katy.
“All I know about Jacob Martin is he plays 100 miles an hour and he’s a great teammate,” O’Brien said on Dec. 2. “He’s awesome in the locker room, meetings … you should see the way the guy practices. I mean, he practices, he’s out there every day, he doesn’t complain about it, he just goes to work. I think when you have that type of work ethic, you’re going to get better, and I think that’s what Jacob does.
“He brings some playmaking ability off the edge, some speed. He hustles, he’s competitive. You want guys like that.”