By Bill McCaughey
For the Fort Bend Star
Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson had a career day in just his fourth NFL game, completing 25 of 34 passes for 283 yards and four passing and one running touchdowns, as the Texans dominated the Tennessee Titans 57-14 Sunday at NRG Stadium.
While Watson’s performance was exceptional, the Texans’ defense may have had an even better game as they held the Titans to 195 total yards of offense just nine first downs, and caused five turnovers.
Texans’ owner Bob McNair was thrilled with Watson’s performance.
“It’s just unbelievable. The performance of our quarterback – he just keeps getting better each game. Watson keeps the chains moving. He just has a great ability to do that and to get away as the pressure builds. He has a sense that they are closing in on him and that’s when he spins out. He made some of those throws running to his left and throwing down the field. Very accurate. It was just a terrific performance,” McNair said.
The game was decided in the first 16 minutes, as the Texans jumped to a 21-0 lead. J.J. Watt set the tone for the defense by batting down the Titans’ first pass attempt, and the Texans’ defense did not allow a first down in the first quarter as the Texans limited the Titans to only 17 yards of total offense on 11 plays.
“I thought that our defense really competed. The Titans have got some really good players led by Marcus Mariota,” Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien said. “They’ve got a good offensive line. I thought our defense really stepped it up. I thought our crowd was great. I think our fans were really loud and I think when our fans are into it, we play well, and our fans are appreciative of that. It makes it hard on the opposing team because it’s hard to hear, especially offensively. So, I thought our defense – like I said, all three phases really complemented each other.”
“You go out there, you execute, you do your job, you catch a break here or there – games like this in the National Football League are few and far between, but we’re very excited to have one,” Watt said. “They are a good football team. We just had a good day today.”
Meanwhile the offense was unstoppable in the first quarter as they scored on their first three possessions of the game.
Lamar Miller scored on a 2-yard run on the Texans’ first possession. The key play on the drive was a 35-yard pass from Watson to Bruce Ellington.
On their next possession, DeAndre Hopkins scored on an 8-yard pass from Watson. During the drive, Watson hit Miller with a 32-yard pass to put the ball on the 9-yard line. Will Fuller continued the scoring as he caught a 16-yard pass from Watson to make the score, 21-0.
The Titans attempted a comeback as they cut the lead to 21-7 on a Marcus Mariota 34-yard touchdown run. The score was 24-14 after Mariota ran 2-yards for a touchdown. But with 1:23 to go in the half, the Texans were aided by a 45-yard pass interference call and Watson ran for a touchdown from 2 yards out, making the score 30-14 at halftime.
The Texans received the ball to start the third quarter and held onto it for over eight minutes before Watson found Fuller for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Titans’ backup quarterback, Matt Cassell, took over for Mariota, who had injured a hamstring in the first half, but the Titans went three and out on both of their third quarter possessions.
In the fourth quarter, the Texans continued their scoring as Miller scored on an 8-yard pass from Watson, Ka’imi Fairbairn kicked a 40-yard field goal, and Dylan Cole returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
Miller led the Texans in rushing with 75 yards on 19 carries.
“I think everybody just did their assignment. The offensive line, I think they did a great job of just opening up the holes, and I think Deshaun (Watson) he did a great job of just making sure everybody was doing their assignment and just moving us down the field,” Miller said.
Hopkins had 12 receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown.
“Every time we touch the ball we’re trying to score it. We’re not happy with three; we need seven. So just that mentality that we have, and obviously it helped having a quarterback in the backfield that can keep the plays alive,” Hopkins said.
Fuller, in his first action after being injured in August, caught six passes for two touchdowns.
“It just felt good to be out there with the guys, especially after the win,” Fuller said. “That was just our (Watson and Fuller) first time playing together. It’s only going to get better, and I’m looking forward to that.”
“Will Fuller is going to open up the field,” Hopkins said. “You have to, obviously, watch Will down the field every play, because he has the speed that you can’t coach.”
On defense, Andre Hal had two interceptions, and Marcus Gilchrist and Dylan Cole had one each, while Jadeveon Clowney forced a fumble that Brandon Dunn recovered.
“Every chance you get you try to punch the ball, especially on quarterbacks when they aren’t looking on the backside, you get a chance for a strip sack and always go for it,” Clowney said.
The Texans are now 2-2, and they play Kansas City Sunday night at NRG Stadium.