Heinicke, defense lead Commanders over Texans 23-10

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HOUSTON (AP) — Taylor Heinicke threw for 191 yards, Kendall Fuller returned an interception for a touchdown, and the Washington Commanders rolled to a 23-10 win over the hapless Houston Texans on Sunday.

Heinicke, who started a fifth straight game for the injured Carson Wentz, had another solid performance to help the Commanders (6-5) build on last week’s victory over Philadelphia and win their fifth of six.

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Davis Mills threw two interceptions and Houston mustered a season-low 148 yards of offense as the Texans (1-8-1) lost their fifth straight and remained the NFL’s only one-win team.

Washington led 20-0 at halftime behind Fuller’s pick-6, a TD run by Curtis Samuel and a historically bad first half by Houston’s offense.

The Texans were outgained 246-5 in the first half, their fewest net yards in a half franchise history, passing the 8 they managed in the first half of a 40-0 loss to the Bills last season.

It was the fewest yards by a team in a half since the Raiders had minus-12 in a win over the Broncos in 2015, a terrible performance even by the standards of this struggling team. Mills had minus-1 yard passing in the first half as he was sacked three times before the break.

The Commanders scored only a field goal after halftime, but their dominant first half was plenty.

The crowd had so many Commanders fans that chants of “defense, defense” could be heard on a couple of possessions when Houston had the ball. About the only reactions from Texans fans were boos, except for the cheers that came when third baseman Alex Bregman of the World Series champion Houston Astros was shown on the big screens in the first half.

Montez Sweat and Jonathan Allen had two sacks apiece and combined for six quarterback hits to lead a Washington defense that hurried and harassed Mills all day.

Houston rookie Dameon Pierce, who entered the game ranked fifth in the NFL with 772 yards rushing, had 10 carries for a season-low 8 yards.

The Commanders took an early lead when Fuller stepped in front of a pass intended for Brandin Cooks, grabbed the ball and returned it 37 yards to the end zone on Houston’s second offensive play.

Washington made it 14-0 when Samuel scored on a 10-yard run early in the second quarter.

The Texans finally found some offense on their first drive of the third quarter when Cooks grabbed a 41-yard reception. Mills scrambled for 4 yards on fourth-and-3 from the 15 to keep that drive going.

Rookie John Ridgeway got an unnecessary roughness penalty for upending Pierce and throwing him to the ground after a run on the next play to give Houston a first down at the 5. But the Texans couldn’t do anything after that and settled for a field goal to make it 20-3 after Mills was sacked on third down.

Mills’ second interception came in the fourth quarter when Benjamin St-Juste made a diving catch on a long throw to give Washington the ball on its 3.

Mills scrambled for a 4-yard touchdown with about three minutes left to cut the lead to 23-10.

INJURIES

Commanders: There was a chance early in the week that DE Chase Young, who has missed more than a year since tearing the ACL in his right knee, could return. But he remained out Sunday. ... St-Juste left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury.

Texans: CB Derek Stingley, the third overall pick in this year’s draft, missed the game with a hamstring injury.

PAYING TRIBUTE

Washington coach Ron Rivera and TE Logan Thomas wore Virginia T-shirts before the game to pay tribute to three of the school’s football players who were shot dead last weekend as they returned from a field trip. Rivera wore his T-shirt on the field during pre-game warmups and Thomas donned his as he arrived at the stadium to honor Lavel Davis Jr., D’Sean Perry and Devin Chandler.

UP NEXT

Commanders: Host Atlanta next Sunday.

Texans: Visit Miami next Sunday.

Featured Image Photo Credit: USA Today Sports Images