Houston — This is the Deshaun Watson the Houston Texans have been waiting for all season.
Watson matched his career high with five touchdown passes to lead the Texans to their fifth straight victory, 42-23 over the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night.
The second-year quarterback has played well at times this year but hadn't had a breakout game while dealing with rib and lung injuries over the past few weeks.
The Texans (5-3) have left their 0-3 start behind with their longest single-season winning streak since reeling off six victories in a row in 2012.
"I think we've got the best offense in the NFL," receiver DeAndre Hopkins said. "What we put up tonight against a pretty good defense, what we've shown in these past five games that we've won, we're up there with the best of the best."
Watson threw touchdown passes of 13, 2, 73, 49 and 2 yards to give him 34 career scoring passes, moving ahead of Dan Marino (32) for second-most in NFL history after 15 games.
"This offense can be very explosive," Watson said. "We can do a lot of good things, put a lot of points on the board."
Miami's Brock Osweiler, who had one tough season in Houston after signing a $72 million contract in 2016, threw for 241 yards with an interception in his third straight start in place of injured starter Ryan Tannehill.
Kenyan Drake had a touchdown run and touchdown reception for the Dolphins (4-4). They lost for the second straight week.
"I'm fairly irritated right now," Miami coach Adam Gase said. "I'm going to re-evaluate everything this weekend and figure out how to get better on defense, figure out how to sustain drives and get the ball into the end zone on offense."
Rookie Jordan Thomas caught the first two touchdown passes of his career, Hopkins had 82 yards receiving and two scores, and Will Fuller added 124 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Texans running back Lamar Miller, who grew up in Miami and spent his first four seasons with the Dolphins, had 133 yards rushing and a touchdown for his second straight 100-yard game.
Houston led by eight when Watson threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Hopkins on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 35-20.
Watson found the speedy Fuller in front of the defense for a 73-yard touchdown that left Houston up 28-17 late in the third quarter. It was the longest touchdown pass of Watson's career and the longest reception of Fuller's. Fuller has caught 11 touchdown passes in 11 career games with Watson.
The Dolphins used a 41-yard field goal to cut the lead to 28-20 with less than a minute left in the third quarter. That score came after a drive featuring a crazy 46-yard pass by Osweiler . He threw the ball to Jakeem Grant, who lost it after being hit by two Texans defenders, but it sailed down the field and into the hands of DeVante Parker for the big gain.
A 58-yard run by Miller got the Texans to the 9-yard line early in the third quarter. Houston extended the lead to 21-10 when Watson found Thomas again, this time on a 2-yard pass.
The Dolphins used some trickery later in the third quarter when Osweiler pitched a lateral to Danny Amendola, who threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Drake to cut the lead to 21-17.
The NFL fired down judge Hugo Cruz on Thursday for inadequate performance, two people familiar with the firing told the Associated Press.
Cruz is in his fourth season as an NFL official. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the league has not publicly announced the move.
Cruz, a part of referee Carl Cheffers’ crew, was involved in a missed call in the Chargers-Browns game that led to a Chargers touchdown on Oct. 14. Chargers tackle Russell Okung false-started on the play and nothing was called. But he was fired for his overall work over a sustained period, not just for one play.
The NFL Referees Association said it would challenge the firing.
“The NFL has a troubling history of knee-jerk reactions with an eye on public relations, and clearly it has not learned from past mistakes,” NFLRA Executive Director Scott Green, a former referee, said in a statement.
Wright returns to face Lions
When he underwent knee surgery in mid-August, K.J. Wright targeted the Seahawks’ Week 3 game against Dallas for his return.
“I was running within two weeks,” Wright said. “But I think I went a bit too hard.”
It’s now Week 8 and Wright is finally set to make his season debut when the Seahawks travel to Detroit on Sunday.
Brady posts pre-Bills video
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is so looking forward to his trip to Buffalo, he posted a video on social media playfully announcing his impending arrival.
“Another great win, 5-2. Got to get to 6-2,” he said, following with a wide-eyed: “Woo! Bills Mafia, here we come.”
Bills fans, who refer to themselves as the “Mafia,” naturally took Brady’s remarks as a taunt in advance of Buffalo (2-5) hosting New England on Monday night.
The more upset fans are, the better, Bills defensive end Jerry Hughes said.
“I think it’s perfect,” Hughes said. “I think that’s great to get our fans riled up, because we’re going to need all that anger, all that hostility.”
Jets coach Todd Bowles says running back Bilal Powell is expected to make a full recovery after he has surgery to repair a bulging disk in his neck.
... The Jaguars will be without Pro Bowl cornerback A.J. Bouye against Philadelphia in London on Sunday.
... Bills running back LeSean McCoy is returning to practice on a limited basis as he recovers from a concussion.