Watson, offense shine in win against Browns

Rookie quarterback sets record for most touchdown passes in first six games


HOUSTON - Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson sent Deshaun Watson a text on draft day telling him to be ready when the Browns' name came up in the first round. 

The rookie made Cleveland regret passing on him Sunday afternoon. 

Watson had his third straight big game, passing for 225 yards and three touchdowns in the Texans' 33-17 win against the Browns. Amongst a long list of rookie records, he's the first to have three straight games with three or more touchdown passes since 1960. 

"They were a team that was big on me," Watson said. "Brought me in, worked me out, had phone calls and just kind of built a relationship. At the end of the day, God put me here in Houston... and I belong in this situation and this organization."

The crazy video game like stats Watson has put up are unquestionably impressive. 

His 17 total touchdowns pass Mark Rypien and Kurt Warner for the most in the first six games of a career. That total is the same amount Brok Osweiler threw all of last year, and it's a new record for most touchdown passes in the first six games since the merger. 

Four of his touchdown passes have been from more than 20 yards away, the most in the NFL. And the Texans set a new franchise record, scoring 30 or more points in four straight games. 

"He's got a quiet confidence about him," head coach Bill O'Brien said. "He's really never satisfied. I'm not even sure how happy he is right now. He's happy the team won, but he threw an interception and I know he'll be in here early tomorrow."

DeAndre Hopkins caught a touchdown for the third straight game, finishing with 19 yards on two receptions. Will Fuller continued to be efficient, catching two passes for 62 yards and a score. Of his eight catches this season, five of them were touchdowns. 

"We're all on the same page," Watson said. "There is no selfishness. We all just want to win and score points. So whoever is open depending on the scheme and the play call, we're all supporting each other."

The defense took a hit last week with season-ending injuries to J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, but the squad didn't lose a beat. Benardrick McKinney finished with a game-high seven tackles and they forced three interceptions, including one by undrafted rookie linebacker Dylan Cole. 

Houston's solid opening drive ended in a 40-yard field goal. The Cleveland defense was solid early, foreign the Texans to go three-and-out on their second drive. And the Browns offense tied the game with a field goal in the first quarter. 

Fuller broke through with a 39-yard touchdown catch on the ensuing drive.

Jonathan Joseph returned an interception for a touchdown to start the second half, the 6th pick-6 of his 12-year career and first since 2014. He had two interceptions in the first half to become the Texans' all-time leader with 14.

"Last time I had a two-interception game I didn't even finish the game," Joseph said. "I sprained my ankle scoring the second touchdown."

After being a healthy scratch in the first two games, Braxton Miller returned with a bang, flipping into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown with just over three minutes left in the half. 

Cleveland quarterback Kevin Hogan was called for intentional grounding in the end zone for a safety in the third quarter and Houston followed that up with a 13-play, 65-yard drive capped off with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Watson to Hopkins. 

Watson made a rookie error and had a pass intercepted by Jason McCourty, who returned it 56 yards for a Cleveland touchdown early in the fourth quarter. The Browns scored again with just over a minute left in the game. 

"I go into every game trying to earn my respect and show the NFL what I can do at this level," Watson said. "If I focus on the other team and teams passing me up, I lose track of my job and what I'm supposed to do and my responsibilities."

Houston will enjoy its bye next week before returning to action on the road against the Seahawks on Oct. 29. The Texans return home Nov. 5 at noon when the Colts come to town. 

The Texans have been through a host of adversity through the first part of the season, losing two leaders on defense, changing quarterbacks after the first game, and dealing with a suspicion to linebacker Brian Cushing.

O'Brien still believes in the old adage that you're only as good as your record says you are, but added it's a race to see who can improve the fastest and he thinks his team is on the right track. 

"This is the time of the year we have to start playing more consistently," O'Brien said. "I really like this team. This is a fun team to coach. Let's correct the mistakes from this game and begin to put something together for Seattle as the week goes on."