HOUSTON (AP) – Ryan Fitzpatrick got things going for Houston and the Texans’ defense and special teams did the rest on Sunday against Washington.
Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown pass, rookie Alfred Blue blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown and J.J. Watt lived up to his massive new contract to help the Texans to a 17-6 win over Washington.
The victory is Houston’s first since last Sept. 15 and snaps a 14-game skid.
The Texans led 7-6 after a 76-yard touchdown reception by DeAndre Hopkins in the second quarter. Blue blocked Washington’s punt on the next drive, scooped it up and returned it five yards for a touchdown to push the lead to 14-6.
Watt had a sack, blocked an extra point and recovered a fumble, a swatted down a pass in his first game since signing a six-year, $100 million contract on Monday. First overall pick Jadeveon Clowney had a tackle for a loss in the first half before leaving with a knee injury.
Robert Griffin III threw for 267 yards, but Washington was done in by two second-half fumbles.
A 42-yard field goal by Randy Bullock in the fourth quarter was the only score of the second half in a game that featured the NFL head coaching debut for both Washington’s Jay Gruden and Houston’s Bill O'Brien.
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively, gaining just one first down apiece and punting a combined seven times in the first quarter.
Washington took the lead when Darrel Young scored on a 1-yard run about six minutes before halftime, but Watt blocked the extra point attempt to make it 6-0. That score was set up by a 21-yard run by Alfred Morris.
It didn’t take the Texans long to erase the deficit when Fitzpatrick found Hopkins wide open before he juked Bacarri Rambo to finish the 76-yard score. Rambo is filling in for Brandon Meriweather, who was suspended for the first two games for a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Washington fumbled on consecutive plays in the third quarter. The first one came when Griffin bobbled a handoff to Morris, who dropped it before Watt pounced on it for the seventh recovery of his career.
The next error came when Griffin found Niles Paul, who had gotten in front of the defense, for a 48-yard pass. But D.J. Swearinger stripped the ball and Kendrick Lewis recovered it at the 9-yard line. A thunderstorm started brewing outside as that play unfolded and a loud clap of thunder boomed through the stadium as Lewis jumped on the ball.
The Texans didn’t take advantage of either of the fumbles. They punted after the first one and Arian Foster lost a fumble to end a long drive by Houston following the second one.
Washington was driving late when Watt knocked down a pass by Griffin on third down. They went for it on fourth down, but couldn’t convert and the Texans ran out the clock.
Foster ran for 103 yards in his first action since offseason back surgery and Andre Johnson had 93 yards receiving.
Fitzpatrick had 206 yards passing in his first game with the Texans, who traded away last year’s opening day starter Matt Schaub to Oakland in the offseason.
DeSean Jackson had eight catches for 62 yards in his debut with Washington and Alfred Morris ran for 91 yards.
Clowney injured his knee the second quarter and did not return.
It wasn’t clear how Clowney was injured, but it happened late in the second quarter. He looked to be arguing with the team doctor as the pair walked off the field to the locker room a couple of minutes before halftime.
The team said he had a knee injury, but didn’t provide further details.
Clowney has struggled to stay on the field since joining the Texans. He left a dual practice Aug. 20 after a helmet-to-helmet hit. He missed the Texans’ final two preseason games, but said he passed the NFL protocols for head injuries in just over a week. He had to sit out the beginning of camp, too, after offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia.
Controversy surrounding Washington’s nickname followed the team to Houston with a small group of people protesting it outside the stadium before the game. The group of Native Americans was protesting the nickname and held signs voicing their distaste for it. One read “R-word (equals) N-Word” and another said “Indians are Human Beings Not Mascots.”
There has been a recent push for owner Dan Snyder to change the mascot and some publications have chosen to no longer use it.
Washington had an embarrassing miscue late in the first quarter when Andre Roberts fielded a punt and had a lane, but was knocked out of bounds by teammate Young.
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