After a rough first half, Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns bounced back with a stellar second half on Sunday, downing the Washington Commanders 24-10.
It was a must-win game for Washington but the Browns had all the momentum in the second half. After trailing 7-3 at the break, the Browns took over in the second half on both sides of the ball.
In particular, it was Watson who turned things around after notching just 23 yards in the first half and being the author of an embarrassing play where he threw the ball to his offensive tackle.
Watson finished 9-of-18 for 169 yards and three touchdowns. It was his first game throwing multiple touchdowns since he returned from suspension on December 4.
“We came in at halftime, we knew what we had to do,” Watson said. “We had to make the game simple for us and that’s what we did.”
The Browns have been eliminated from the postseason but the team still has lots to play for in terms of building for the future. Cleveland invested heavily in the addition of Watson and the second half burst is an encouraging — albeit a little overdue — sign of things to come.
“That was definitely the potential of what the future can hold,” Watson said. “That second half we were rolling, on all cylyniders.”
Watson’s Connection With Amari Cooper Growing
Watson was not the only significant the Browns made to the offense this offseason as they reshaped the roster. The team also traded for Amari Cooper, who has been terrific with 1,109 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
Cooper’s connection with Watson had not been consistent so far but the duo connected on a pair of huge touchdown passes of 46 and 33 yards, with Cooper doing a lot of work after the catch. And he’s doing it all with a hip injury.
“I hoping I’m with him until he retires. The plays he made today while not being healthy, the sky’s the limit for him,” Watson said.
Browns head coach and offensive play-caller Kevin Stefanski was encouraged by the connection between Watson and his receivers.
“I think there’s great trust in Amari,” Stefanski said. “I think there’s great trust in the receivers, in general.”
Browns Look to Finish Season Strong Against Steelers
While Watson and the offense found their rythm in the second half, the defense also came through with a nice performance to continue their late season surge. The Browns forced three interceptions of Carson Wentz, with two of those coming from safety Grant Delpit.
“You have to make the plays that come to you,” Delpit said. “I think we did that today but all great defenses get takeaways. We need to build into next year and continue that.”
The Browns moved to 7-9 this season and 3-2 with Watson at quarterback. They’ll have one more outing against the Pittsburgh Steelers before turning their attention to next season.
“Celebrate this one, get on a plane back to Cleveland and we’ve got a big one next week to finish the season,” Watson said.