October 6, 2019 / 8:45 PM / 10 days ago

Texans pull away from Falcons behind Watson magic

EditorsNote: updates with minor fixes

Oct 6, 2019; Houston, TX, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws as Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) rushes during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson put on a passing clinic and Will Fuller benefited with a career-best performance as the Houston Texans beat the visiting Atlanta Falcons 53-32 on Sunday at NRG Stadium.

Watson completed 28 of 33 attempts for a career-high 426 yards and a career-high-tying five touchdowns. Fuller matched the franchise record of 14 receptions while producing 217 yards and three touchdowns, including a 44-yarder with 1:51 left to play that sealed the victory.

The Texans (3-2) amassed a season-high 592 yards and did not allow a sack of Watson, who entered Sunday having been sacked 18 times, the third-highest total in the league.

The Falcons (1-4) lost momentum in the third quarter, punting on all three of their possessions while surrendering 222 yards as the Texans scored 17 unanswered points in the period.

Atlanta didn’t dent the scoreboard again until early in the fourth, after a muffed punt by Texans return specialist DeAndre Carter enabled the Falcons to take possession at the Houston 16-yard line.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan passed for 330 yards and three touchdowns but also tossed his seventh interception, which Tashaun Gipson returned 79 yards for a score in the final minute. Atlanta continued its woes on the ground, rushing for only 57 yards on 20 attempts.

The Falcons produced a clean first half and built a 17-16 lead at the break.

Atlanta entered Sunday as the most penalized team in the NFL yet was flagged just once prior to halftime. The Falcons also did not commit a turnover, and their combination of ball security and discipline yielded three scoring drives in the first half, including a late 11-play, 82-yard march that came in response to a 50-yard field goal from Houston’s Ka’imi Fairbairn.

Ryan hit Devonta Freeman for a 9-yard touchdown with 22 seconds remaining that gave Atlanta the lead at the break. It marked the second scoring pass of the half for Ryan, who found Mohamed Sanu on a 14-yard score for a 7-0 lead at the 9:03 mark of the first quarter.

Watson and Fuller combined for first-half scoring passes of 6 and 33 yards, but Fairbairn missed the PAT after the second touchdown. His field goal was his first from 50-plus yards this season.

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