Houston Texans

AFC: Watson sets record in leading Texans past winless Browns, 33-17

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AFC: Watson sets record in leading Texans past winless Browns, 33-17

HOUSTON -- Deshaun Watson threw for 225 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first rookie in NFL history with at least three TD passes in three straight games, helping give the Houston Texans a 33-17 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Watson has thrown 15 touchdown passes this season, the most in NFL history by a rookie in a team's first six games. It equals the number of TD throws Brock Osweiler had in 15 games last season.

The Browns lost their 16th in a row on the road.

Cleveland made yet another change at quarterback this week, benching rookie DeShone Kizer, who had thrown a league-high nine interceptions, for Kevin Hogan to make his first NFL start. The results were much the same as Hogan threw three interceptions to keep the Browns (0-6) winless and drop coach Hue Jackson's record in Cleveland to 1-21.

Johnathan Joseph had two interceptions, including one he returned for 82 yards to boost the Texans' defense in their first game since J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus sustained season-ending injuries last week.

Watson threw TD passes to Will Fuller, Braxton Miller and DeAndre Hopkins as the Texans (3-3) set a franchise record by scoring at least 30 points for the fourth straight game.

The game was tied at 3 after both teams made field goals early when Watson connected with Fuller on a 39-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter. That was Fuller's third straight catch for a TD.

Joseph's first interception return for a touchdown since 2014 came on Cleveland's next possession, but the extra point kick failed to push the lead to 16-3.

Dylan Cole intercepted Hogan on the next drive, but Houston couldn't convert.

Rookie D'Onta Foreman had a 39-yard run later in the second quarter to get Houston to the 2-yard line. Miller, a healthy scratch the past two weeks, grabbed a shovel pass from Watson and somersaulted into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown and Ryan Griffin caught the 2-point conversion to make it 24-3.

Joseph grabbed his second interception late in the second quarter.

Browns quarterback woes have long been an issue, with Hogan becoming their 28th starter since 1999. But the longstanding problem seemed even worse on Sunday when Cleveland faced a quarterback that could have been playing for it. The Browns had the 12th overall pick in this year's draft but traded it to the Texans, who used it to select Watson, a national champion at Clemson last season.

Hogan was 20 of 37 for 140 yards. He was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone under heavy pressure from Benardrick McKinney to give Houston a safety in the third quarter.

Watson found Hopkins in the back of the end zone for 3-yard touchdown pass later in the third quarter to extend the lead to 33-3.

Defensive end Myles Garrett, who was the top overall pick in this year's draft, got more extensive playing time in his second game after playing just 19 snaps in his debut last week. Previously he was out with a right high ankle sprain.

Cleveland's only offensive touchdown came late in the fourth quarter when Hogan's 3-yard pass to Seth DeValve cut the lead to 33-17. Jason McCourty's 56-yard pick-6 was the other Cleveland TD.

INJURY REPORT

Cole injured his hamstring on an interception return in the second quarter and did not return. ... Houston tackle Chris Clark is out with a calf injury.

UP NEXT

Browns: Cleveland hosts the Titans next Sunday.

Texans: Houston is off next week before visiting the Seahawks on Oct. 29.

Texans' title chances take devastating hit: Watt, Mercilus out for year

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Texans' title chances take devastating hit: Watt, Mercilus out for year

The Texans suffered a pair of devastating injuries on Sunday night that could wind up ruining their chances at contending in the AFC.

During a 42-34 loss to the Chiefs, J.J. Watt suffered a season-ending tibial plateau fracture in the first quarter. He left the game and was eventually taken to the hospital. Whitney Mercilus was injured earlier in the first quarter, suffering a torn pectoral muscle that ended his season.

"I think that is tough, but at the end of the day that is not an excuse," Texans coach Bill O’Brien said after the game. "We have to do better in all three phases. Look, I thought we competed until the end and the next guys are going to have to step up and play. 

"We have to do a good job of coaching and scheming, but that is the National Football League. Guys get hurt and the next guy in the team meeting room at that position needs to step up."

The reality is, though -- and this isn't news to O'Brien -- "the next guys" in this case are not going to be the game-changers that Watt and Mercilus have been. 

Watt is arguably the best defensive player of this generation, having won three Defensive Player of the Year awards (2012, 2014, 2015). Mercilus was a Second-Team All-Pro last season and made up a three-headed pass-rushing monster in Houston alongside Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. 

Having both Watt and Mercilus in the mix with Clowney and linebacker Bernardrick McKinney is what made the Texans defense one of the most dangerous units in the league. Before the Patriots and Texans matched up in Week 3, we took a deep dive into why the sheer number of pass-rushers Houston possessed was such a problem

"I mean, they have too many good players so it’s hard to help," Bill Belichick said before the game. "If you help one, then you’re light on the others. If you help one of the others, then it’s tough. That’s what makes them so good, is they get a lot of those matchups and you can’t help. 

"Like I said, too many guys so the guys that get singled are productive and they make plays. They make plays for a loss. They make plays in the running game. They make plays in the passing game and they make plays in pursuit."

With Watt and Mercilus unavailable, the Texans will lean heavily on Clowney and McKinney to provide pressure while defensive lineman Christian Covington and linebacker Brennan Scarlett, in all likelihood, see more playing time. 

Houston made it to the Divisional Round without Watt last season, and they gave the Patriots offense fits at Gillette Stadium. But to make any noise in January without both Watt and Mercilus, the Texans will need rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson -- one of the best stories in the league through five weeks -- to continue to surpass expectations by leaps and bounds. And even that may not be enough.

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Undefeated Chiefs beat Texans, 42-34

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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Undefeated Chiefs beat Texans, 42-34

HOUSTON - Alex Smith threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns to help the Kansas City Chiefs remain undefeated with a 42-34 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday night in a game where J.J. Watt broke his left leg.

Deshaun Watson's 48-yard touchdown pass got the Texans within six early in the fourth quarter before Smith extended the lead for Kansas City (5-0) to 32-20 on a 10-yard pass to De'Anthony Thomas with about 9 minutes left. Tyreek Hill padded the lead when he returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown.

Watson threw for 261 yards and five touchdowns, but the Texans (2-3) failed to recreate the magic they found last week when they scored a franchise-record 57 points in a victory over Tennessee.

Watt, the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, was injured in the first quarter and the team announced that he sustained a tibial plateau fracture, but didn't provide any details on how long he'll be out. The defensive end returned this season after missing the last 13 games last year after his second back surgery.

The Texans cut their deficit when Watson threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Fuller in the third quarter. But the 2-point conversion failed, leaving them down 23-13.

Kansas City's Charcandrick West caught two touchdown passes and Travis Kelce had eight receptions for 98 yards in the first half, but didn't return after halftime and the team said he was being evaluated for a concussion.

The Chiefs were up by six when Smith found West on an 8-yard touchdown pass to make it 13-0 in the second quarter. Houston rookie D'Onta Foreman fumbled two plays later to give Kansas City the ball right back and the Chiefs tacked on a field goal.

Foreman stepped out of one tackle before plowing over Marcus Peters as he tried to tackle him before two other Chiefs finally brought him down after a 25-yard gain that got Houston to the 10 on the Texans' next drive. The Texans cut it to 16-7 when Watson found DeAndre Hopkins in the back of the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown pass with about two minutes left in the first half.

Smith then connected with West again, this time on a 4-yard TD pass to put the Chiefs up 23-7 at halftime.

The Chiefs led 3-0 early after a 35-yard field goal by Harrison Butker on their first drive. Watt was injured on the play before the field goal and fell to the ground while being blocked. Watt remained on his hands and knees for a couple of minutes while trainers checked on him.

They flipped him onto his back and were looking at his left leg. He was then helped to his feet and looked to be in a lot of pain and didn't appear to be able to put any weight on the leg as he was helped off the field by two Texans officials. He remained on the sideline under a tent for a few minutes before being taken to the locker room on a cart and then taken by ambulance to the hospital.

Butker added another field goal early in the second quarter to make it 6-0.

Kansas City rookie Kareem Hunt had 29 carries for 107 yards to give him four 100-yard rushing games this season.

Hopkins had four receptions for 52 yards with three touchdowns after catching two late scoring passes when the game was out of reach.

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