Rookie QB Wat­son helps Tex­ans hold off Ben­gals 13-9

The Mercury News Weekend - - SPORTS - By The As­so­ci­ated Press

De­shaun Wat­son ran 49 yards for a touchdown in his first NFL start and led the Hous­ton Tex­ans’ de­pleted of­fense 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. The Tex­ans (1-1) got the most out of their de­pleted of­fense, and then let their de­fense 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 42-yard 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 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. BRADY AC­CEPTS CON­CUS­SIONS » Tom Brady doesn’t worry about con­cus­sions and con­sid­ers them part of play­ing foot­ball, the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots quar­ter­back says in a tele­vi­sion in­ter­view to be broad­cast this week­end. “I’m not obliv­i­ous to them,” Brady tells “CBS Sun­day Morn­ing.” “I mean, I un­der­stand the risks that, you know, come with . the phys­i­cal na­ture of our game.”

Brady’s wife, su­per­model Gisele Bund­chen, had said in an in­ter­view with the show in May that the quar­ter­back has had con­cus­sions that weren’t re­ported. Brady de­nied it, and a joint NFL and play­ers union in­ves­ti­ga­tion found no ev­i­dence that the team failed to fol­low the league’s poli­cies. BECK­HAM BACK AT PRAC­TICE » Odell Beck­ham Jr. is get­ting closer to re­turn­ing to the Gi­ants. The three­time Pro Bowl re­ceiver, who missed the sea­son opener in Dal­las, prac­ticed on a lim­ited ba­sis for the first time since sprain­ing his left an­kle more than three weeks ago. Beck­ham ac­tu­ally took two steps in his re­cov­ery. He took part in some in­di­vid­u­al­ized drills and fol­lowed that by run­ning routes at “not high speed” and tak­ing some men­tal reps at the end of prac­tice in prepa­ra­tion for Mon­day night’s home opener against the Detroit Lions. He said there are still some move­ments that bother his an­kle. JETS LINE­BACKER FAC­ING SEA­SON-END­ING SURGERY » Lorenzo Mauldin’s sea­son ap­pears to be over be­fore it ever started. The New York Jets line­backer has a her­ni­ated disk in his back that likely will need sea­son-end­ing surgery.

Mauldin, 24, is on the in­jured re­serve list af­ter miss­ing al­most all of train­ing camp and each of the four pre­sea­son games be­cause of the back ail­ment. He re­turned for one prac­tice mid­way through camp but hasn’t been on the field since. Mauldin is in his third sea­son with the Jets af­ter be­ing a third-round draft choice out of Louisville in 2015. MILE­STONE ON HORI­ZON FOR PEP­PERS » Julius Pep­pers is on the verge of join­ing some elite com­pany. The 37-yearold de­fen­sive end picked up a half-sack in his first game back with the Pan­thers last Sun­day against the 49ers and now has 144 for his ca­reer, inch­ing closer to join­ing Bruce Smith, Reg­gie White, Kevin Greene and Chris Dole­man as the only play­ers in NFL his­tory with 150 ca­reer sacks. WOOD­HEAD GONE » The Ravens placed run­ning back Danny Wood­head on in­jured re­serve with a ham­string in­jury. Wood­head in­jured his left leg early in the sea­son opener and did not re­turn. He missed part of camp with a ham­string in­jury to the same leg.

GARY LANDERS — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Rookie De­shaun Wat­son, cen­ter, brings smiles to the Tex­ans af­ter scor­ing on a touchdown run in his first start.

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