HOUSTON (AP) — The Houston Texans scored a franchise-record 57 points in a win over the Titans on Sunday.
If you ask the players, the best part about that big win is that they believe the team can get much better.
The biggest reason for Houston’s success on Sunday was the dynamic play of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. The 12th overall pick in this year’s draft threw four touchdowns passes and ran for another in his third NFL start.
Watson became the first rookie to throw four touchdown passes and run for another one since Fran Tarkenton in 1961 and he tied an NFL record for most TDs by a rookie quarterback.
He’s one of many who think this team has only scratched the surface of how good it can be.
“I have a long way to go,” Watson said. “And it’s still early in my career and just hope to build on it.”
His big performance was helped by the return of receiver Will Fuller, who missed the first three games after breaking his collarbone early in training camp. The pair connected for two touchdowns as the Texans scored the most points in the NFL since Seattle scored 58 on Dec. 9, 2012, against Arizona.
“That was just our first time playing together,” Fuller said. “It’s only going to get better, and I’m looking forward to that.”
The Texans not only believe they can get better, but that they must do so with a Sunday night game against Kansas City coming up this week. The Chiefs were the NFL’s only undefeated team heading into their Monday night matchup against Washington.
“There were a lot of good things that happened (Sunday), quite obviously,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “But there were some things that we need to clean up, and we need to get going on that and clean those things up and have a really good week of practice because Kansas City’s one of the best teams in football.”
O’Brien was unhappy at a couple of false start penalties in the red zone on Sunday and is looking for the team to improve on punt and kick return coverage after allowing some longer runs in that area against the Titans.
A big change in Houston’s offense this season has come from the confidence of Watson, who won a national championship at Clemson last season.
The Texans have had problems at quarterback for years, and believe Watson could finally be the player to provide stability there and run O’Brien’s offense the way he’s always envisioned.
In years past and particularly last season, the Texans often settled for field goals instead of touchdowns. The Texans never scored 30 points last season and were held to fewer than 15 in six games.
“Guys aren’t thinking: ‘All right, we’ve got to have good field position to score.’ They think: ‘Let’s go 90 yards. Let’s go 80 yards,’” receiver DeAndre Hopkins said.
“Every time we touch the ball we’re trying to score it. We’re not happy with three. We need seven. So just that mentality that we have, and obviously it helped having a quarterback in the backfield that can keep the plays alive.”
Houston has won the AFC South the past two years in large part because of its solid defense. The unit has continued to play well this season and forced five turnovers on Sunday to provide a boost to the offense.
The group, led by J.J. Watt and 2014 top overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, has enjoyed watching Watson develop and transform the offense into a much more potent unit.
“It’s incredible how fast they’ve been able to make it all work,” Watt said. “I’m very excited to see where it goes in the future, and I’m very excited to obviously be able to put up a performance like that. If they want to score 57 every week, that’s fine by me. I’ll take it.”