Cincinnati — A black tux and bowtie. Deshaun Watson decided to dress in style for his first NFL start, one that came in prime time on his 22nd birthday.
The clothes and the moment were a perfect fit for the national champ.
Watson scrambled 49 yards for the game's only touchdown Thursday night, leading the injury-depleted Houston Texans to a 13-9 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. He avoided the big mistake, made the game-turning play, and led Houston (1-1) to a clinching field goal in the closing minutes.
"It was insane," defensive end Christian Covington said of the rookie's touchdown run. "That's why he is who he is. The whole sideline went crazy. That was a game-sealing touchdown right there."
It came in the first half, but given the way the Bengals are playing on offense, it was indeed the decisive play. Cincinnati (0-2) opened the season with a pair of home games, but has yet to score a touchdown in 25 possessions.
The last team that opened with two home games and failed to reach the end zone was the 1939 Eagles, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. No team has scored so few points in a pair of season-opening home games since the 1949 Packers.
"I am shocked," coach Marvin Lewis said. "Yes, I am. We should be better."
Few young quarterbacks have gotten better results than Watson, who was working with an offense missing three tight ends to concussions, plus a receiver and a guard. He ran five times for a team-high 67 yards and completed 15 of 24 passes for 125 yards with no interceptions and three sacks.
Watson won a national championship at Clemson with his dual-threat ability. The first-round pick used every bit of it in a conservative plan aimed at making the most of what the Texans had left on offense.
"I don't really get nervous when I step on the field," Watson said. "Football is football. This is what I've been dreaming of my whole life."
Watson is the first rookie quarterback to win his first start on the road in a prime-time game since the Eagles' Joe Webb in 2010, according to Elias. He's the first quarterback in the last two seasons to lead his team in both passing and rushing and get a win.
"That's one of the things you've seen throughout his career at Clemson, and what we've seen in the preseason here," coach Bill O'Brien said. "He just has that ability and that knack."
Brady: Head injuries happen
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t worry about concussions and considers them part of playing football, he says in a television interview to be broadcast this weekend.
“I’m not oblivious to them,” Brady tells CBS Sunday Morning. “I mean, I understand the risks that, you know, come with the physical nature of our game.”
Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, had said in a May interview that the quarterback has had unreported concussions and she worried about his long-term health. A joint NFL and players union investigation found this week there was no evidence that Brady or the team failed to follow the league’s policies or procedures on concussions.
A five-time Super Bowl champion and two-time league MVP, Brady (Michigan) had one of his best seasons last year at age 39. After missing the first four games to serve his “Deflategate” suspension, he threw for 3,554 yards and 28 touchdowns with only two interceptions, leading the Patriots to their fifth NFL title by rallying them from a 25-point deficit to the first overtime victory in Super Bowl history.
The network said co-host Norah O’Donnell interviewed Brady multiple times, both at his suburban Boston home and at his TB12 Sports Therapy Center near the Patriots’ stadium. Now 40, Brady repeated his desire to continue playing until his is 45 — something no non-kicker has done in modern NFL history.
“I do want to go out on my terms,” he said. “I do want go out playing my best.”
The NFL has struggled to come to terms with the danger of concussions and the lifetime health risks they pose. The league this year agreed to pay as much as $1 billion to former players who have been diagnosed with post-concussion symptoms that could include the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
The NFL has also created game-day procedures in an attempt to identify concussions when they happen and keep concussed players from returning to the game.
In light of a recent study that found CTE in the brains of 110 of the 111 former NFL players that were studied, O’Donnell asked Brady what he thought the effect would be on the league.
“I don’t know what the future is going to look like, you know, and I’m not going to pretend to predict it,” Brady says. “And I’m going to do everything I can to take care of my body in advance of the, you know, of the hits that I’m going to take on Sunday.”
The Ravens placed running back Danny Woodhead on injured reserve because of a hamstring injury.
Woodhead injured his left leg in the first quarter of the season opener and did not return. He missed part of training camp with a hamstring injury to the same leg.
Woodhead signed a three-year contract with Baltimore in March after playing for the Jets, New England and San Diego.
He played in only two games for the Chargers last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
The Ravens promoted running back Jeremy Langford (Michigan State) from the practice squad to replace Woodhead on the active roster. Langford had been cut by the Bears.
... Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr has a hamstring injury that has kept him out of practice, jeopardizing his availability for the upcoming game at Pittsburgh in a shortened week.
Barr watched the team’s workout , sidelined for a second straight day. The Vikings play the Steelers on Sunday.
Barr played every defensive snap in the season opener against New Orleans on Monday. The fourth-year player has started 20 straight games for the Vikings, who would likely either turn to veteran Emmanuel Lamur or rookie Eric Wilson at the strong side position if Barr can’t play.
Lamur (hamstring) was limited in practice, as were quarterback Sam Bradford (knee), cornerback Terence Newman (knee) and cornerback Xavier Rhodes (hip).
... Jets linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin has a herniated disk in his back that likely will need season-ending surgery.
Coach Todd Bowles confirmed the nature of the injury, saying that Mauldin’s back “took a turn for the worse.”
Doctors have advised Mauldin to have surgery, but the linebacker will get a second opinion.