OBSERVATIONS: Watson Goes From a Dirge to a Symphony

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, killing time before heading to Charleston, S.C. to cover the University of Dayton’s basketball team in The Charleston Classic this week, beginning Thursday with a game against LSU.

—THE BIG BROWN-OUT: Ever since the Cleveland Browns handed quarterback Deshaun Watson a $230 million contract, there have been 230 million jokes about how the team flushed the gross national product of Peru down a commode.

Me? Guilty. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said the Browns’ investment in Watson, who carries more excess baggage than a traveling diva, was money spent on sagging stocks and hedge funds? Well, as Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update, “Never mind.”

As one man said, the quarterback who was a maestro for the Houston Texans, finally found his baton in Cleveland Sunday and conducted one hell of a symphony in Baltimore. It started awfully and ended beautifully.

Watson threw a deflected pik-six on his team’s first play and a few seconds later the Baltimore Ravens scored again. It was 14-0 before I had two sips of coffee.

Watson was 1 for 9 and looked as if the football was a foreign object in his hands.

One disgusted Browns fan left the house to cover the outdoor furniture with a tarp, read a couple chapters of a Dan Jenkins novel and finish a glazed cinnamon roll the size of a tractor tire from Jim’s Donuts. It was me.

I returned in time to watch Cleveland’s final drive, a drive that climaxed with Dustin Hopkins’ game-winning walk-off 40-yard field goal.

Cleveland 33, Baltimore 31. . .a game for the ages. And suddenly the talking heads on sports shows are mentioning Cleveland and the Super Bowl in the same sentence, the same guys who earlier this season called the Browns the longest running comedy act in the NFL.

The Browns were behind for 59 minutes and 58 seconds before taking the lead (and the game) for the first time on Hopkins’ kick.

The Browns trailed, 31-17, with 11:34 left. They were 0-17 when trailing by 14 or more in the final quarter. And they were 0-24 in games they were behind by 14 at any point of the game.

Watson? He completed all 14 of his second half passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. And he scrambled for a 16-yard first down on the team’s game-winning drive.

Said defensive end Myles Garrett to the media on Watson, “I kept on trying to tell y’all once he hits his stride, he’s gonna be back to his previous ways. We’re just seeing a glimpse into what he can be and who he is.”

The Browns (6-3) host the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday. The Steelers have been outgained by their opponents in nine straight games, the first team in NFL history to do that and have a winning record.

Can the Browns reverse that amazing stat? As Sherlock Holmes would say, “It’s elementary, my dear Watson.”

—THE BIG BOOTS: NFL fans got a big kick out of Sunday’s games and some just got kicked in the teeth.

For the first time in NFL history, five games in one day ended in walk-off game-winning field goals — balls sailing end-over-end through the uprights as the clocks clicked to 0:00. The Browns (on the good side) and the Bengals (on the bad side) were involved in two of them.

^^^Cleveland’s Dustin Hopkins kicked a 40-yarder to beat Baltimore, 33-31.

^^^Houston’s Matt Ammendola kicked a 38-yarder to beat Cincinnati, 30-27.

^^^Detroit’s Riley Patterson kicked a 41-yarder to beat Los Angeles (Chargers), 41-38.

^^^Seattle’s Jason Myers kickerd a 43-yarder to beat Washington, 29-26.

^^^Arizona’s Matt Prater kicked a 23-yarder to beat Atlanta, 25-23.

No kicker missed on their game-winning kicks. But Cleveland’s Hopkins made certain he was not another Browns joke.

Late in the game he missed an extra point kick that would have tied the game, 31-31. Instead the Browns trailed, 31-30. But Hopkins saved the team and himself from having to hide all week with his game-winning kick.

—THE BIG PAYOFF: When I grow up, I want to be a college football coach so when I get fired I get paid $76 million to get lost.

That’s what Texas A&M did to Jumbo Fisher. They fired him, even though they had to pay off the rest of his contract, a cool $76million.

Why did I ever become a sports writer?

—BYE-BYE BILL?: Rumblings emanating in New England suggest that Patriots coach Bill Belichick is seated uncomfortably on a hot plate. The Patriots are 2-8 and three times this season they’ve scored zero touchdowns in games.

Tom Brady, wherefore art though.? Oh, that’s right. Belichick helped expedite Brady’s one-way ticket out of town.

If Belichick is deposed, the Boston-area media would be ecstatic because of his droll, mono-sylllabic two-word mumblings when he ‘answers’ questions at press conferences.

But with his track record of six Super Bowl titles — with Brady at quarterback — Boorish Bill most likely would land right side up as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders or Washington Commodores.

So, Las Vegas or Washington media, brace yourselves.

—WHERE’S THE ‘D?’: After emphasizing defense during pre-season practices, the Wright State basketball team traveled to Colorado State for its season opener and was waxed 105-77.

Those were the most points ever scored against a coach Scott Nagy team and only the second time a team hit 100 against his Raiders.

As Nagy told Dayton Daily News contributor Doug Harris, “We’re embarrassed.” The 28-point drubfest came after WSU actually led by 11 points in the first half.

Colorado State, picked to finish mid-pack in the Mountain West Conference, shot 64%, the first time any team shot above 60% against a Nagy-coached team at WSU.

There is no doubt the leakage at Fort Collins was an aberration and anomaly. There is too much talent at WSU.

The Raiders get a chance to heal and make amends Tuesday night when they host the University of Toledo (2-0) in the Nutter Center. The Big ‘D’ will be needed. Toledo beat the Horizon League’s Detroit Mercy, 94-60, and the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, 87-78.

—NOT SO EVEN STEVEN: From deadpan comedian Steven Wright, one of my favorite comedic geniuses:

^^^”I would kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.”

^^^“How do you know when you are out of invisible ink?”

^^^“If at first you don’t succeed, sky diving is not for you.”

^^^“What happens if you get scared half to death twice?”

^^^“So what is the speed of dark?”


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