Victorious return for Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson struggled in his first game in 700 days, but the Cleveland Browns still defeated the Houston Texans 27-14 on Sunday.
In the same stadium where he played his last game, Watson had 131 aerial yards and he threw an interception in his debut with the Browns (5-7), against his former team.
Watson returned to action after serving an 11-game suspension due to sexual misconduct allegations.
Several fans attended the game wearing Watson’s number 4 jersey, both the Texans (1-10-1) and the Browns, but there were also several detractors who booed him copiously every time he touched to the ball.
The Browns trailed 5-0 early in the game, but a 76-yard punt return from Donovan Peoples-Jones gave the visitors a 7-5 lead in the second quarter.
Denzel Ward then returned a four-yard fumble for a major that gave the Browns a 14-5 lead early in the third quarter.
The Browns didn’t score on offense until a field goal from 43 yards extended the lead to 17-8 with about 10 minutes remaining. Tony Fields then intercepted a pass from Kyle Allen and returned the ball 16 yards to give Cleveland their second defensive touchdown of the game.
Allen had a very difficult game, in his second start replacing Davis Mills. He had 201 passing yards while being the victim of an interception and a fumble.
It was Watson’s first start since Jan. 3, 2021, when he threw for three touchdowns and 365 yards in a 41-38 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Soon after, he became unhappy with the team’s management and demanded a trade. Then two dozen women accused him of sexual harassment or assault during massage therapy sessions.
Watson stayed on the Texans roster last year, but sat out the entire season before being traded to the Browns in March.
Watson accepted the lengthy suspension, a $5 million fine and required professional counseling and therapy after an independent arbitrator ruled he violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Watson completed 12 of 22 passes and finished the game with a 53.4 efficiency rating, the worst of his NFL career.
Nick Chubb rushed for 80 yards for the Browns while Kareem Hunt added 56 yards.
Kristie Rieken, Associated Press