Texans lean on QB Deshaun Watson again to pull out another win

CARSON, Calif. -- As he has in all three games this season, quarterback Deshaun Watson again came up big when the Houston Texans needed him to.

Houston is now 2-1 after a 27-20 victory against the Los Angeles Chargers. After a slow first half for the offense, Watson threw touchdowns on three consecutive possessions, twice taking the Texans more than 70 yards downfield.

The Texans' lone loss this season came after Watson gave the Texans the lead with 37 seconds to go, and the defense could not hold the Saints. Against the Jaguars in Week 2, Watson ran in the game-winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter before the defense allowed nine points the rest of the way. Watson has put the Texans in a position to win every game.

Against the Chargers, Watson completed 25 of 34 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns. He did not throw an interception. Watson spread the ball around, with completions to six different players, including touchdown passes to tight ends Darren Fells and Jordan Akins.

Promising trend: Watson was sacked only twice after the Texans entered Week 3 tied with the Dolphins with 10 sacks allowed. On Sunday, the Texans started their third right tackle in three weeks when first-round pick Tytus Howard moved from left guard. Second-round pick Max Scharping replaced Howard. During training camp, Howard took snaps primarily at left guard and also saw reps at left tackle. Scharping took most of his reps on the right side. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil, center Nick Martin and right guard Zach Fulton have started all three games. Seantrel Henderson opened the season at right tackle but was benched for Roderick Johnson in Week 2.

At Alabama State, Howard was a part-time starter at right tackle during his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons, then started all 11 games at left tackle in 2017 before moving back to right tackle last season.

Pivotal play: On third down from the Houston 34, Whitney Mercilus sacked Philip Rivers forced a fumble. That was his fourth sack of the season; Mercilus now has a sack in three straight games for the first time in his career. The Texans have taken the ball away only three times in the first three weeks, and all three were forced by Mercilus. Watson led the Texans down the field after the fumble and Houston took a 21-17 lead with less than two minutes left in the third quarter. It was their first lead of the game, and they did not give it up.

Biggest hole in the game plan: The Texans entered the game ranked fifth in the NFL in rushing yards, averaging 153 yards per game on the ground. Houston had only 19 rushing yards in the first half against the Chargers, and 13 of those were from Watson. Carlos Hyde finished with 10 carries for 19 yards and a touchdown. Duke Johnson had two carries for 2 yards.

Eye-popping stat: All three of Watson's passing touchdowns were caught by tight ends. This was only the third game in Texans franchise history in which tight ends caught three touchdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Two of those games have been against the Chargers.