HOUSTON — The Texans have never had a game like they did on Sunday. They’ve also never had a quarterback like Deshaun Watson.
The final box score looked more like one from the rookie’s three years at Clemson than an NFL game, and Houston set a new franchise record for points and combined for nearly 450 yards of offense in a 57-14 throttling of the Tennessee Titans.
“It’s always fun to score points,” Watson said. “That’s why we play offense. Every time we take the field, we want to go down and score points and score touchdowns. We made sure we did that.”
Of more than 5,000 regular and postseason games since 2001, just seven have had one team score more points than the Texans did on Sunday.
Watson completed 25-of-34 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns with one interception. He ran the ball four times for 24 yards and one touchdown. His five touchdowns tied the NFL rookie record for most in a game.
“These guys, they believe in him,” Texas head coach Bill O’Brien said. “He works very hard. He’s got a fantastic way about him. He’s a humble kid, was raised the right way and he works very hard. He’s got great suggestions. He’s got a good mind for a lot of different things, not just football. He’s an excellent kid and he’s fun to coach.”
DeAndre Hopkins had his best game of the season, catching 10 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown. Will Fuller returned from a broken collarbone sustained during training camp and caught a pair of touchdowns.
Watson praised O’Brian’s willingness to have an open mind on offense. The Texans scored two touchdowns thanks to the read-option. Watson kept it for his rushing touchdown in the second quarter after Lamar Miller opened the scoring on a two-yard pitch in the first quarter.
The defense’s lights out day was almost an afterthought thanks to the blistering offense.
Andre Hal intercepted two overthrown passes by Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, who left the game at halftime with a hamstring injury. Marcus Gilchrist had an interception and undrafted linebacker Dylan Cole returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a very, very exciting time,” defensive end J.J. Watt said. “There’s no question about it. We have to continue to improve and we have to continue to grow. There are definitely some exciting times ahead, I believe.”
Houston held Tennessee to just 17 yards and zero first downs in the first quarter. The only big blemishes on the game for the Texas were a pair of touchdown runs by Mariota in the second quarter, including a diving touchdown to cut the lead to 10 points.
But Watson looked like a veteran and never panicked. Not even close.
The Texans scored one touchdown in the third and had their highest scoring quarter in the final period thanks to Cole’s pick-six, Miller’s only receiving touchdown and a pair of field goals by Ka'imi Fairbairn, who finished 3-of-3 on the game.
Hopkins remembers draft night and considers the team picking a fellow Clemson alum one of the best feeling he’s had since he was drafted in 2013. He gave credit to the Texans for moving up and taking the risk by trading draft picks for a guy they knew could be the franchise quarterback.
“He’s doing things and has the characteristics of a quarterback that wants to win everything,” Hopkins said. “He has the pedigree to be great. The adjustments that he can make on the field and on the sideline, I haven’t had that in a while.”
Watson will have his chance to shine in prime time when the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs come to town next Sunday at 7:30 p.m. The Texans then host the winless Browns in their third straight home game.
“It’s cool to have all the points on our side,” Watson said. “For the time being, try to execute and keep it going. You’ve just got to learn from the opportunities that you had that you didn’t accomplish, and then just move on it from it. You’re only as good as your next game, and we have a big test next week.”