By Bill McCaughey
For the Fort Bend Star
The outcome of Sunday’s game at NRG Stadium between the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns was decided early.
Very early – as on April 27 when the Browns traded their 12th overall draft pick to the Texans who then selected quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Browns then used their 52nd overall pick to select quarterback DeShone Kizer. Kizer started the first five games for the Browns but, with an NFL worst quarterback ranking of 49.5, was benched last week in favor of Kevin Hogan.
On Sunday, Watson completed 17 of 29 passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns as the Texans rolled over the Browns 33-17. Watson’s quarterback rating for the game was 103, while Hogan’s was 38 with three interceptions.
Watson has the most touchdowns by a rookie through six games of the season, and he is the first rookie to throw three touchdown passes in three straight games.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s straight. I should’ve had more. I missed some opportunities, but if you look at the big picture and kind of see the things I’m doing, it goes all to the support cast I have around me and the people that push me, starting with the draft process with Jordan Palmer and Quincy Avery, all the way up to OTAs (off-season training activities) and training camp with Sean Ryan and Coach (Bill O’Brien), and then having the offensive lineman to protect me, the running backs to get open, the receivers to get open and just the whole offense and team coming together. So, this is bigger than me, and the support cast that’s helping me do the things I’m doing, it’s an honor and I appreciate all them,” Watson said.
The Texans took a 10-3 first quarter lead as Watson hit Will Fuller with a 39-yard touchdown pass with 41 seconds to go in the first quarter. The Texans extended their lead to 24-3 in the second quarter as Johnathan Joseph returned an interception 82 yards and Braxton Miller caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Watson.
Joseph enjoyed his pick-six.
“It was a big play in the game. I think the score was like, 10-3 right then and there. The offense was going down early to put some points on the board, and defense, we were just trying to do our part,” Joseph said. “I just came off and made a play on the ball. The linebacker did a good job of forcing it out and making it tough to throw, and I just caught it and had a good convoy lead me in for a touchdown.”
The Texans’ defense scored two points in the third quarter when Hogan was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety. DeAndre Hopkins made the score 33-3 when Watson hit him with a 3-yard touchdown pass with 4:05 to go in the third quarter.
The Browns scored twice in the fourth quarter when Jason McCourty returned a Watson interception 56 yards for a touchdown, and Seth DeValve scored on a 3-yard pass from Hogan to make the final score 33-17.
For the game, the Texans had 123 rushing yards, led by D’Onta Foreman with 59 yards on 12 carries. Fuller had two receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown, and Hopkins had two receptions for 19 yards and a touchdown.
Joseph had two interceptions and a touchdown, and Dylan Cole had an interception, but went out with a hamstring injury on the play. Benardrick McKinney led the defense with eight tackles.
“I give these players a lot of credit. These guys are practicing hard; they’re putting the time in the meeting room. I think we can play better, to be honest with you. I thought the second half wasn’t as good, but I think they’re really doing what we’re asking them to do and I think it’s just a matter of really just trying to get better every single day,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “We’ll have some time off here during the bye week, but when we come in here early this week, let’s try to correct the mistakes and really think about improvement, how we can get better.”
The Texans have a bye next week, and will travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks on Oct. 29.