4:01 p.m.- DESHAUN WATSON, HOUSTON TEXANS DOMINATE CLEVELAND BROWNS, 33-17, AT NRG STADIUM
The Cleveland Browns twice passed on opportunities to select former Clemson Tigers quarterback Deshaun Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft, and he made them pay for their decisions with a three-touchdown performance at NRG Stadium Sunday.
A first-round pick of the Houston Texans (3-3) after the Browns (0-6) traded their No. 12 overall selection to Houston, Watson completed 17 of his 28 attempts for 225 yards and three touchdowns against a second-half interception on the way to a 33-17 victory over Cleveland.
Watson spread the ball out to eight different players, and became the first rookie quarterback with three or more touchdown passes in three consecutive games in the Super Bowl era.
With the setback in Houston, the Browns have suffered through 16 consecutive road losses, a franchise record for futility away from home.
PHOTOS: Cleveland Browns face Houston Texans in AFC battle in Houston
3:23 p.m.-JASON MCCOURTY RETURNS INT FOR TOUCHDOWN
The Cleveland Browns got their first touchdown of the game against the Houston Texans when veteran cornerback Jason McCourty returned an interception of quarterback Deshaun Watson 56 yards for the pick six, the first of his career.
McCourty’s interception return cut Houston’s lead to 33-10 early in the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium.
On second-and-five from the Houston 32-yard line, Watson faced intense pressure from Browns rookie defensive end Myles Garrett before getting rid of the ball. However, the throw sailed on Watson and into McCourty’s arms.
As McCourty hustled toward the goal line, Garrett delivered a block on Watson to seal the return lane to the end zone.
3:04 p.m.-TEXANS CONTINUE TO POUR IT ON
The Houston Texans continue turning Cleveland Browns miscues into touchdowns.
After turning one of three first-half interceptions into a score, the Texans followed a safety of Browns quarterback Kevin Hogan with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson’s third touchdown pass and a 33-3 lead over Cleveland in front of the home fans at NRG Stadium.
Despite the Browns sending out six defensive backs on third-and-goal from Cleveland’s three-yard line, Watson took the shotgun snap, waited patiently for wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to break free in the middle of the end zone and delivered the touchdown pass.
The throw to Hopkins was Watson’s 16th touchdown pass over his first five starts, which matches 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Kurt Warner for the most scoring passes over the first five starts in NFL history.
Earlier in the drive, Watson and the Texans faced a third-and-14 from Cleveland’s 45-yard line, but the rookie calmly flared a screen pass to wide receiver Will Fuller on the left side of the field. Then, Fuller sprinted through the Browns’ three layers of defense before being brought down after a 23-yard gain.
Two plays later, Watson threw a 13-yard pass to wide receiver Ryan Griffin.
2:11 p.m.-FORMER OSU STAR BRAXTON MILLER SCORES TD FOR TEXANS
Former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback/wide receiver Braxton Miller caught a one-yard touchdown pass and gave the Houston Texans a 24-3 lead over the Cleveland Browns with 3:04 to play in the first half from NRG Stadium in Houston.
On second-and-goal, Miller caught a short pass from rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and front-flipped his way across the goal line for the touchdown.
Following the initial score, the Texans attempted a kick, but a penalty on the Browns gave them a second shot at the conversion. With a second chance at the conversion, Watson threaded the needle to tight end Ryan Griffin for the two-point score.
Two plays before the touchdown, the Texans faced a third-and-one from the Browns’ 41-yard line, and running back D’Onta Foreman took a handoff from Watson behind the blocks of his left tackle, Chris Clark, and rushed for a 39-yard gain down to Cleveland’s two.
1:45 p.m.-TEXANS TAKE BACK INT FOR TOUCHDOWN
On the ensuing drive after rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson threw a 39-yard scoring pass, the Houston Texans’ defense got in on the scoring on an interception return for a touchdown that gave them a 16-3 lead over the Cleveland Browns with 11:08 to play in the first half at NRG Stadium.
Browns quarterback Kevin Hogan had moved the offense down to Houston’s 22-yard line, but on second-and-15 from just outside the red zone, he sailed a throw over the head of running back Duke Johnson and into the arms of Texans defensive back Johnathan Joseph.
After securing his 13th interception with the Texans, which matched a franchise career record, Joseph raced untouched down the sideline for the touchdown.
Once Joseph crossed the 50-yard line, he slowed his pace to a jog, and with blockers in tow, walked across the goal line for the touchdown.
Committed to making the community around him better with every success on the field, Joseph pledged financial donations to Habitat for Humanity, and if the first half is any indication, Joseph will be cutting a big check to benefit those in need of assistance after this week’s game.
1:33 p.m.-TEXANS RETAKE LEAD ON WATSON TD PASS
Well, that tie did not last long.
Rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Will Fuller, which gave the Houston Texans a 10-3 lead over the Cleveland Browns with 41 seconds to play in the first quarter at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Facing a second-and-two from Cleveland’s 39-yard line, Watson used an inside draw play-action fake to freeze the Browns’ defense, and found Fuller running open down the right side of the field. Fuller hauled in the pass at the four-yard line and motored his way into the end zone for the touchdown.
With the Browns in zone coverage, cornerback Jamar Taylor gave Fuller a clear running lane, and he ran uncovered for nearly 30 yards before hauling in the pass behind the coverage from deep safety Jabrill Peppers.
1:25 p.m.-GONZALEZ DRAWS BROWNS EVEN WITH TEXANS
One week after missing two field goals in a three-point loss to the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns rookie kicker Zane Gonzalez got an early chance at redemption, and did not disappoint, which drew his team even with the Houston Texans, 3-3, with 3:15 to play in the first quarter at NRG Stadium.
Gonzalez converted a 41-yard field goal on a drive that started at Houston’s 27-yard line after a 41-yard line-drive punt from Shane Lechler that rookie safety Jabrill Peppers returned for a 17-yard gain.
The Browns went to the ground on the first two plays of the drive, as running back Isaiah Crowell was stopped for no gain on first down and quarterback Kevin Hogan was limited to just four yards on second-and-10.
On third down, Hogan sailed a throw high and out of bounds in the direction of rookie tight end David Njoku, which forced the field goal try.
1:08 p.m.-TEXANS TAKE EARLY 3-0 LEAD
The Houston Texans got the opening kickoff and methodically marched down the field on a drive that resulted in a field goal and 3-0 lead over the Cleveland Browns with 10:57 to play in the first quarter from NRG Stadium in Houston.
Kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn capped off the 10-play, 52-yard drive with a 40-yard field goal.
Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson completed two of his four throws for 26 yards and ran for eight yards on the drive.
Watson’s first pass of the game went for eight yards, and after running for an eight-yard gain on third-and-one, he completed an 18-yard throw over the middle of the field that moved the ball down to Cleveland’s 31-yard line.
The Cleveland Browns face the Houston Texans in an inter-division AFC battle at NRG Stadium in Houston today, and they do so with a new leader on offense, as well as returning defensive players.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan began the week as the backup to rookie DeShone Kizer, but after a strong showing in a relief appearance in last Sunday’s 17-14 loss to the New York Jets, he was named the starter for today's game against the Texans.
In relief of Kizer, who completed just eight of his 17 throws for 87 yards with one interception and one lost fumble, Hogan connected on 16 of his 19 attempts for 194 yards with two touchdowns and one interception on a deflection.
Hogan finished the game with a 122.4 quarterback rating. Kizer posted a 38.1 rating in what was his fourth straight game with a less than 50 percent completion rate.
In addition to the change in offense, the Browns will again have Myles Garrett on the field after he made his NFL debut last week.
Despite the Browns (0-5) suffering a 17-14 loss to the New York Jets (3-2) at FirstEnergy Stadium last Sunday, Garrett recorded two sacks of veteran quarterback Josh McCown for 12 lost yards with two additional hits on the one-time Browns signal-caller.
Prior to his NFL debut, Garrett talked about how much he looked forward to getting his first career sack with the Browns, and it took him all of one series to accomplish that goal in front of the home fans.
With the Jets facing a third-and-five from their own 31-yard line, McCown dropped back into the shotgun formation, but on delayed pressure after running a stunt, Garrett rushed through the line of scrimmage and collected his first NFL sack.
Garrett’s play on third down forced a Jets punt.
After getting his first sack against McCown on the very first regular-season snap of his career, Garrett once again sacked the veteran signal-caller late in the second quarter.
With the Jets facing a third-and-eight from their own 16-yard line and pressure collapsing the pocket, McCown attempted to run to the left side of the formation to extend his passing lane, but Garrett broke free from the block of left tackle Kelvin Beachum and brought down the quarterback by the shoe tops, which forced another New York punt.
Also, linebacker Jamie Collins makes his return to the lineup after three weeks on the shelf because of a concussion.
“That is going to be a huge addition," rookie safety Jabrill Peppers said. "We have been without those guys for most of the season. Just the presence alone of those guys is going to help out the rest of us. Myles is going to open up a lot of one-on-one situations for the guys on the defensive line. Jamie is a smart linebacker who is big but can also move in space. They have to account for him, too. We get to open the scheme up a little bit and see how it goes.
“Anytime you are healthy, that is always a plus. It definitely helps having those guys back, and we are definitely ready to see how we can put it together. We are looking forward to this week. We have a big task at hand, and we never shy away from any challenge. We are going to hit it head on.”
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