Deshaun Watson makes one play in first start, and that's enough to win

Shutdown Corner

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was bad. Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was bad. But Watson made one play.

The positive spin: It was a fantastic play. It wasn’t quite worth NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin stealing Dabo Swinney’s comment and yelling repeatedly that Watson was Michael Jordan, but Watson’s 49-yard touchdown run was good. He escaped the pocket, outran a tackle near the line and then worked his way through the secondary to score. And in an ugly game, that was the only touchdown in the Texans’ 13-9 win over the Bengals.

Deshaun Watson had a 49-yard touchdown run in his first career start Thursday night against the Bengals. (AP)
Deshaun Watson had a 49-yard touchdown run in his first career start Thursday night against the Bengals. (AP)
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Here’s what we have to acknowledge too: Watson looked like a rookie the rest of the time. This was a safe game plan – what else were the Texans going to do after giving Watson his first career start in a road game on a short week? – and Watson didn’t do much with it.

Twice the Texans had third-and-short in the fourth quarter and even though the Bengals put practically everyone on the line of scrimmage, the Texans still ran it straight ahead with no chance at a first down rather than ask their rookie quarterback to make a play. Watson made some nice throws late to move the chains and had a good third-down run to make a game-sealing field goal easier. Mostly he rarely tried throwing the ball downfield. He finished 15-of-24 for 125 yards. It’s hard to take anything out of his performance other than he has the ability to make an electric run, which we saw at Clemson too.

Watson’s performance was good enough for the Texans to win, and they will take it. Houston looked awful in Week 1, which led to the abrupt quarterback change from Tom Savage to Watson, and the Texans needed to win in any way possible as they fix their offense. Its easier to do that at 1-1 than 0-2. Ask the Bengals, who are 0-2 after a ridiculously bad loss to a team that basically generated one good play on offense.

Watson didn’t play any worse than Dalton, who battled with Scott Tolzien for the title of the NFL’s worst quarterback in Week 1 and was bad again in Week 2. Dalton is playing behind a really bad offensive line, but he also missed a few easy passes he had to make. The Bengals haven’t scored a touchdown all season. NFL Network said the last team to have their first two games at home to start the season and not score a touchdown was the 1939 Eagles.

Watson, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Thursday, should get better. He was put in a tough spot for his first start by a desperate Texans team. And at least he can work on some things after a win. That one touchdown run was enormous for him and the team.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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