HOUSTON (AP) J.J. Watt stood to face the media Sunday after his first game since signing a six-year, $100 million contract.
A reporter started his question with: ”You know you don’t have anything to prove,” before Houston’s star defender cut him off.
”What do you mean? I’ve got everything to prove,” Watt said.
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown pass, rookie Alfred Blue blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown and 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 signed his contract Monday and showed on Sunday that he isn’t content to slow down after getting paid.
He had two tackles for losses including a sack, blocked an extra point, recovered a fumble and swatted down a pass. He also was credited with five hurries of Robert Griffin III.
”The goal is always to be underpaid,” Watt said. ”You never want to be that guy that people say: `He got money and shut down.’ So I want to go out there every single day … and prove that I’m worth it.”
First overall pick Jadeveon Clowney had a tackle for a loss in the first half before leaving with a knee injury. It wasn’t clear how Clowney was injured, but it happened late in the second quarter. O’Brien didn’t provide much more information on Clowney’s health after the game.
”They think it’s a good prognosis so it looks like it’s going to be OK,” O’Brien said. ”He may miss some time, he may not. Who knows? So we’ll know better as the week goes on.”
Griffin 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 O’Brien.
”When games are so close, a couple of big plays are going to be the difference,” Gruden said. ”We’re going to be in a lot of those close games, so we have to figure out how to make them and how to stop them.”
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.
”I thought Arian got every inch that he could out of the running game,” O’Brien said. ”He meant a lot to our team today.”
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.
NOTES: Washington TE Jordan Reed has a strained hamstring and nose tackle Barry Cofield has a sprained ankle. … Houston LB Brian Cushing had five tackles in his first game since a season-ending knee injury midway through last season.
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