Defense and special teams led the way for Cleveland Browns as star QB has light dimmed

The Cleveland Browns played the Houston Texans amidst the Deshaun Watson controversy.

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The Cleveland Browns played the Houston Texans amidst the Deshaun Watson controversy.

While it may have not been the season debut Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Deshaun Watson was looking for, the defense finally found its groove on Sun. Dec. 4, which led to a 27-14 victory over Watson’s former team, the Houston Texans.

Watson served an 11-game suspension from the National Football League after violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. He also was given a five million dollar fine and was required to attend mandatory counseling before he could take the field again. This stems from the more than 22 different sexual assault cases alleging that the athlete forced 20 separate women to commit sexual acts without their consent. This originally came to light on Mar. 16, 2021, when the first of many civil lawsuits was filed against Watson. Although Watson claimed his innocence via Twitter, he still was indicted.

After his suspension concluded, Watson was reinstated for the Browns Week 13 matchup. Cleveland fans were excited to see the future face of their franchise make his debut in the orange and brown. But, after missing almost a year and a half of football, the once star quarterback had to “clear the dust off” and find his rhythm. This was especially difficult amidst a crowd of angry viewers who booed Watson on the field. However, the player said that this was only because of his trade to the Browns and not because of his allegations.

Watson completed 12 of his 22 passing attempts and only amounted 131 passing yards. The former Texan-standout also threw a pick on the third drive of the game. Along with Watson, the offense as a whole went through their woes throughout the game and did not score a single touchdown.

Star running back Nick Chubb rushed for 80 yards on 17 attempts.

Instead, it was the special teams that gave Cleveland a spark and the defense that led the charge to overcome the rustic offensive play. Wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones gave the Browns a lead heading into the second half after he returned a punt late in the second quarter making the score 7-5. 

Cornerback Denzel Ward got the ball rolling for the Browns after he recovered a fumble from Texans QB Kyle Allen and walked it in for an easy seven points. A few drives later, Allen threw his second interception of the game to linebacker Tony Fields II which was returned for yet another Browns touchdown to make it 24-8.

Houston made a late push when Allen found his favorite target, Nico Collins, in the back of the endzone for six points. However, the momentum was quickly cut off after the Texans failed to get the two-point conversion and recover the onside kick.

Deshaun’s first test of the season will be this week when the Browns travel to Cincinnati, OH to face the red-hot Bengals. Cleveland is 5-0 in their last five appearances against Cincinnati, including a blowout victory this season with a final score of 32-13.