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Clowney Catches Eyes in Texans Win
Updated: Saturday, August 16 2014, 10:54 PM CDT
Jadeveon Clowney showed off his potential in the Houston Texans' preseason home opener.
The top overall pick in the draft made big hits behind the line on consecutive plays and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown pass to DeVier Posey in the Texans' 32-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night.
Houston selected Clowney out of South Carolina to form a powerful 1-2 pass-rushing attack with J.J. Watt.
Watt dressed but did not play on Saturday, and Clowney proved too much for Atlanta (1-1). He tackled running back Antone Smith for a 2-yard loss and then beat left tackle Sam Baker for a sack on Matt Ryan.
Jonathan Grimes returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and Andre Hal returned an interception 64 yards for another score for the Texans (1-1), who showed significant improvement after last week's 32-0 loss in Arizona.
Baker left on a cart in the second quarter with a right knee injury, a potentially huge blow to the Falcons' reshaped offensive line.
Baker started 16 games in 2012, but played in just four games last season because of a left knee injury that required surgery in November.
Ryan went 3 for 7 in a quarter and a half of work and Julio Jones caught two passes in his first live-game action since he broke his right foot in Week 5 last season.
Fitzpatrick completed 9 of 12 passes for the Texans, guiding the offense much more smoothly than he did against the Cardinals.
He went 3 for 5 and had a 10-yard scramble on Houston's initial scoring drive and rookie Alfred Blue, a sixth-round pick from LSU, finished it with runs of 10, 3 and 1 yard to put the Texans in front.
Sean Renfree replaced Ryan with 6:20 left in the first half and led the Falcons on an 11-play, 66-yard touchdown drive. Renfree, competing with T.J. Yates for the backup job behind Ryan, found Devin Hester on a 12-yard pass with 1:32 left for the tying score.
Rookie Tom Savage played one series before Fitzpatrick returned to lead the Texans in the final 90 seconds before halftime. Fitzpatrick had a 15-yard scramble and then connected with Keshawn Martin for a 31-yard gain to the Falcons 15.
A Falcons' penalty moved the ball to the Atlanta 8, and Fitzpatrick avoided the rush to his right before finding Posey in the back of the end zone with 19 seconds left.
Case Keenum, competing with Savage for the backup role behind Fitzpatrick, started the second half for the Texans and guided a drive to the Atlanta 22 before Kemal Ishmael intercepted him near the goal line.
Houston's special teams and defense took over from there.
Anthony Denham blocked Matt Bosher's punt from the end zone, and Grimes scooped up the loose ball and ran 17 yards for a score.
Yates played the fourth quarter under constant pressure, and tried a futile tackle attempt on Hal's return. Matt Bullough also intercepted Yates, setting up a 33-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.