Deshaun Watson showed why he’s starting with one play in the first half.
In his first start, on his birthday, the rookie scrambled 49 yards for a touchdown with 50 seconds left in the first half. It came two plays after he took a hard hit on a sack by Geno Atkins.
It was the longest touchdown run by a quarterback since Tennessee’s Marcus Mariota went 87 against Jacksonville in Week 13 of 2015.
Watson, who replaced Tom Savage in the second half of the season opener, went 8-for-13 for 73 yards as the Texans offensive line continued to struggle. Houston gave up three sacks in the first half after surrendering 10 in the loss to the Jaguars on Sunday.
The Texans, who dressed three receivers and were without their top three tight ends, played much of the first half in a jumbo package with one and sometimes two extra offensive linemen. Watson was the game’s leading rusher with two carries for 53 yards.
Watson’s touchdown staked the Texans to a 10-6 halftime lead after Houston allowed the Bengals to drive 64 yards before the half for a Randy Bullock field goal.
The Bengals, who were shutout last week, managed only four first downs, 166 total yards and went 1-for-6 on third down. Cincinnati gained 109 of its yards on three plays.