Wat­son leads Tex­ans to vic­tory in de­but


De­shaun Wat­son ran 49 yards for a touchdown in his first NFL start and led the Hous­ton Tex­ans’ de­pleted of­fence to a late clinch­ing field goal in a 13-9 vic­tory over the Cincin­nati Ben­gals on Thurs­day night.

Wat­son showed up in a black tuxedo for his first NFL start — it was his 22nd birth­day, no less — and showed the flash that helped him lead Clem­son to a na­tional ti­tle. He avoided the rush and ran 49 yards for a 10-3 lead late in the first half, dash­ing past be­fud­dled de­fend­ers.

The Tex­ans (1-1) got the most out of their de­pleted of­fence, and then let their de­fence do the rest. The Ben­gals (0-2) have failed to score a touchdown in their two games to open a sea­son for the first time in their 50 sea­sons.

Wat­son led a 13-play drive that set up Ka’imi Fair­bairn’s 42yard field goal with 1:56 left. The Ben­gals got the ball two more times, but failed to cross mid­field.

Cincin­nati lost to the Ravens 20-0 at Paul Brown Sta­dium on Sun­day, the first time in their his­tory that they opened the sea­son blanked at home. Andy Dal­ton threw four in­ter­cep­tions and lost a fum­ble.

The Ben­gals man­aged only three field goals by Randy Bul­lock on Thurs­day. Dal­ton fell to 1-6 ca­reer against the Tex­ans, in­clud­ing a pair of play­off losses.

Wat­son di­rected an of­fence miss­ing three tight ends be­cause of con­cus­sions, along with re­ceiver Will Fuller V and guard Jeff Allen. The Tex­ans kept it sim­ple, and Wat­son avoided the game-turn­ing mis­take de­spite heavy pres­sure from the Ben­gals.

Wat­son was 15 of 24 for 125 yards and no in­ter­cep­tions. He ran five times for 67 yards.

The Ben­gals be­came the first team that opened the sea­son with five score­less quar­ters since the 2009 Rams, who went 1-15, ac­cord­ing to ESPN Stats.

They thought they fi­nally had a touchdown when Tyler Eifert caught a pass from Dal­ton in the end zone in the third quar­ter — the videoboard broke into a touchdown song — but the tight end had stepped out of bounds be­fore mak­ing the catch, nul­li­fy­ing it. Cincin­nati set­tled for its third field goal.


The Tex­ans lost two cor­ner­backs. Johnathan Joseph hurt his right shoul­der while mak­ing a tackle in the first half and didn’t re­turn. Kevin John­son hurt his left knee in the third quar­ter and was out. The Tex­ans al­ready were miss­ing LB Brian Cush­ing. He’s in the NFL’s con­cus­sion pro­to­col and has been sus­pended 10 games for vi­o­lat­ing the NFL’s pol­icy on per­for­mance-en­hanc­ing sub­stances.

As­so­ci­ated Press photo

Cincin­nati Ben­gals run­ning back Jeremy Hill (32) lands af­ter leap­ing over the scrum dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NFL foot­ball game against the Hous­ton Tex­ans, Thurs­day, in Cincin­nati.

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