Deshaun Watson tosses TD in win, calls first start in Cleveland ‘special’

CLEVELAND — Deshaun Watson, who threw a touchdown Saturday in the 13-3 victory over Baltimore, called his first start in Cleveland as the Browns’ new starting quarterback “special.”

“From the time we came out pregame,” Watson said, “you could feel the energy in the air.”

On a chilly and eventually snowy night in Cleveland, FirstEnergy Stadium was far from full, and the Browns struggled offensively for much of the game. Still, Watson’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones proved to be the difference, as the Browns (6-8) kept their remote playoff hopes alive.

“It was fun. It was great,” Watson said. “It was a great, fun game on the lake, especially in the fourth quarter when [the snow] started coming down and swirling around. … It was fun to be out there. My first home game was a victory and it was special. Many more to come.”

Watson played his third game with the Browns since returning from an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy for committing sexual assault as defined by the league. Watson has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual assault and other sexual misconduct during massage sessions. Watson has settled 23 of the civil lawsuits filed against him; two lawsuits remain outstanding.

Watson went 700 days without playing a game. In addition to the suspension, he sat out the 2021 season with the Houston Texans after demanding a trade. Cleveland traded for Watson in March.

The Browns have scored only two offensive touchdowns in three games with Watson at quarterback. But Watson played his sharpest game so far with the Browns on Saturday, completing 18 of 26 passes for 161 yards without a turnover.

“He was seeing [the field] very clearly,” Brown’s coach Kevin Stefanski said. “I thought he was very poised and making good decisions. There are always plays that I know he can be better, I can be better, we can design better plays and all of those types of things, but I know I continue to see a guy who is just getting better and better.”

Following his first win at home, Watson agreed with that assessment.

“Football is coming back each and every week,” he said. “I don’t need to come in and try to do anything special. If we just come in and I just do my job as a quarterback, then everything is going to come in place.”

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