HOUSTON (AP) — Deshaun Watson took advantage of one series in his preseason debut looking sharp in directing a 75-yard drive capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass to DeAndre Hopkins to help the Houston Texans to a 30-23 win over the Detroit Lions on Saturday night.
Watson, who sat out in a loss to Green Bay last week, was 5 of 7 for 60 yards and scrambled once for 7 yards. After being sacked an NFL-high 62 times last season, the third-year player had plenty of time to throw while facing a Lions defense which opened the game with the bulk of its starters.
Hopkins, also making his preseason debut, had two receptions for 17 yards and shook off Detroit’s Quandre Diggs to get open and make the TD catch that put Houston up 7-0.
Hopkins, who had a career-high 1,572 yards receiving last season, was the only one of Houston’s top receivers to play. Will Fuller, who is healthy after tearing a knee ligament last season, sat out and the Texans were without Keke Coutee, who injured his ankle last week.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t play for the second straight week, with the Lions instead starting Josh Johnson. Johnson was signed a week ago after backup Tom Savage suffered a head injury in the team’s preseason opener against the Patriots. Johnson was 9 of 18 for 85 yards with an interception.
The Lions had a chance to tie it on the last play of the game, but a pass by David Fales was knocked down in the end zone.
Tight end T.J. Hockenson, the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft, had one reception for 22 yards, but also received a penalty for a crackback block. Running back Kerryon Johnson started and had three carries for 16 yards in a little more than a quarter of work.
Several of Houston’s defensive starters also played briefly, including linebacker Whitney Mercilus, who sacked Johnson and caused a fumble on Detroit’s first series. Defensive end J.J. Watt did not play for the second straight game despite practicing all week after recovering from tightness in his groin.
Detroit cornerback Darius Slay broke up two passes in the first quarter and Jalen Reeves-Maybin had five tackles, including one for a loss, and defended a pass.
Veteran backup Joe Webb came in after the series by Watson and was 14 of 25 for 186 yards with a touchdown and an interception after throwing for 286 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions last week.
The Texans were up 10-3 in the second quarter when Steven Mitchell fumbled after a 4-yard reception and Will Harris scooped it up and returned it 19 yards to tie it.
Webb connected with Vyncint Smith on a 31-yard touchdown pass just before halftime to put Houston on top 17-10.
Fales took over at quarterback for the Lions on the second series of the third quarter and threw a 5-yard touchdown to Zach Zenner, but the 2-point conversion failed to leave Detroit down 20-16.
Buddy Howell’s 1-yard touchdown run extended Houston’s lead to 27-16 with about 8½ minutes left and the Lions got within 27-23 on a TD run by Mark Thompson a couple of minutes later.
Fales was 12 of 19 for 226 yards and a touchdown.
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Houston tight end Jordan Thomas caught what appeared to be a touchdown pass from Webb in the second quarter and ran off the field and halfway up the tunnel with teammates chasing him. Thomas had to hustle back after his celebration jog when an offensive holding penalty nullified his score and the Texans had to run another play.
Lions: Host the Bills on Friday.
Texans: Visit Cowboys next Saturday.