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QB Deshaun Watson focused on staying healthy, ready for Ravens matchup

With Watson at quarterback, Browns had no turnovers for first time in Week 9

Watson is back

On third-and-6 in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game against the Cardinals, QB Deshaun Watson made one of the best passes of the season for the Browns. Watson felt the pressure from the pass rush, stepped up in the pocket and threw a 49-yard pass in double coverage where only WR Amari Cooper could catch it. It was the exclamation point on a solid performance from Watson in his return from a shoulder injury.

Watson first sustained the right shoulder injury in Week 3 and has battled through the injury since. He tried to return in Week 7 against the Colts, but only played in the first quarter before getting hit that caused him to miss the remainder of the game. Watson also missed Week 8 against the Seahawks.

He finished the game against the Cardinals, completing 63 percent of his passes and a passer rating of 107.5. He also threw two passing touchdowns, which the Browns last did in Week 3.

"Deshaun's our guy, and he just goes out there and executes," RB Kareem Hunt said. "He's been here for a long time. He's played a lot of football, a lot of experience, and it's just good to see him back and get his legs underneath him."

The offense completed only four pass plays for over 40 yards before Week 9. On Sunday, they completed two, with both receptions by Cooper. He had a 59-yard reception in the first half and a 49-yard reception in the second, and both led to a touchdown at the end of their respective drives.

WR Amari Cooper has been the Browns best receiver this season, as he leads the team with 617 receiving yards through eight games. He has the most receptions with 35 – averaging 17.6 yards per catch – as well as two touchdowns. Against the Cardinals, Cooper finished the game with 139 yards on five targets and a touchdown, and his 139 yards is his highest yardage total with the Browns and the most since Week 1 of 2021.

Watson had the offense looking organized and in control. It wasn't all perfect, but it was a step forward for the offense.

"Sunday was a good day," Watson said. "Sacked once, which was on a design red zone play, so it was a coverage sack. Arizona did a good job with that one. But yeah, we just got to stay locked in on the protections and making sure we're going to the right guys and the ball's getting out right on time."

Watson and the offense were locked in on Sunday, as they committed zero turnovers against the Cardinals. It was the first time they played a clean game with no turnovers this season, and the result was a 27-0 shutout win.

When Watson starts at quarterback, the Browns are 4-1 with a plus 69-point differential. When he doesn't start, they are 1-2 with a minus 27-point differential. Watson recorded a start against the Colts but did not finish the game due to injury. 

Now, this upcoming Sunday, Watson will face a tough matchup as the Browns play in Baltimore. The Ravens have one of the best defenses in the league with only giving up nine touchdowns this season. Their offense is also led by dual threat QB Lamar Jackson.

Watson is often compared to Jackson because of their similar play styles, but he isn't worried about the competition with him.

"I don't play against Lamar," Watson said. "I play against the Ravens defense. So, I can't focus on what Lamar is doing on the opposite side and trying to do that. I got to focus on attacking the defense because if I get worried about another quarterback, then I'm not going to play well against the defense."

Watson downplayed that this Sunday is a huge game but is ready for any challenges he may face in Baltimore. 

"My biggest thing, just trying to be the best version I can be each and every day," Watson said. "I can't focus on Sunday right now. I'm focused on just making sure that I'm staying healthy, doing whatever I need to do game plan wise. And then once we get out there in practice, being able to try to execute the game plan."

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