Watson, Texans get eighth win

The Associated Press

HOUSTON — Deshaun Watson threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a third as the Houston Texans set a franchise record with their eighth straight win, 34-17 over the Tennessee Titans on Monday night.

Demaryius Thomas scored his first two touchdowns as a Texan and Lamar Miller ran for 162 yards, including a 97-yard TD.

In the first game since founder and owner Robert “Bob” McNair died on Friday, the Texans (8-3) honored him by wearing decals on the back of their helmets in the shape of a football with white block letters bearing his initials of “RCM.”

With that reminder on their helmets, they became the first team in NFL history to win eight games in a row after opening a season 0-3.

The Texans trailed by 10 early before reeling off 27 straight points. Tennessee (5-6) finally scored again on a 48-yard reception by Corey Davis late in the third quarter, but the second TD by Thomas — this one for 10 yards — made it 34-17 with just more than eight minutes left.

Dalton out for season

CINCINNATI — Andy Dalton is out for the rest of the season with an injured thumb on his passing hand, another significant blow to a Bengals team that has fallen apart in the past month.

Dalton reached for a fumbled ball and had someone land on his right hand during a 35-20 rout by the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Cincinnati’s fifth loss in its past six games.

Just like that, a season that started with so much promise has turned into a nosedive .

Cincinnati (5-6) is without its quarterback or much hope that things will get much better down the stretch. The Bengals put Dalton on injured reserve after he had more tests and medical opinions Monday about the best way to get the thumb healed.

Coach Marvin Lewis said Dalton’s thumb is expected to be healed before the start of offseason workouts.

It’s the same thumb that Dalton broke while making a tackle on an interception return against the Steelers in 2015. He missed the last three regular-season games and an 18-16 loss to the Steelers in a first-round playoff game at Paul Brown Stadium.

Jeff Driskel will start for the Bengals the rest of the way, getting his first chance to lead the team in his third NFL season. The Bengals claimed quarterback Tom Savage off waivers from the San Francisco 49ers as a backup on Monday.

Jags making changes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Jacksonville Jaguars sacked offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and quarterback Blake Bortles one day after the team’s seventh consecutive loss.

Coach Doug Marrone fired Hackett and benched Bortles on Monday, making sweeping changes to one of the league’s worst offenses.

“I felt I needed to make a change to get us an opportunity to win some games,” Marrone said. “It’s not a knee-jerk reaction. I really feel like at the end of the day we’ve got to try to get better production out of our passing game or more consistent production in our passing game.”

Marrone promoted quarterbacks coach Scott Milanovich to offensive coordinator as well as backup quarterback Cody Kessler.

Milanovich spent five seasons (2012-16) as head coach for the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts before landing in Jacksonville last year. Kessler lost all eight starts for Cleveland in 2016.

Marrone expects Milanovich and Kessler to energize a lackluster offense when the Jaguars (3-8) host Indianapolis (6-5) on Sunday.

Talib eyes Detroit return

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Aqib Talib had barely gotten started with the Los Angeles Rams when he went down with an ankle injury.

After two months as a supportive voice on the sideline while his new team soared without him, the veteran cornerback is rejoining the Rams as their playoff push really begins.

The Rams (10-1) designated Talib to return from injured reserve Monday when they returned to work after their bye week.

Talib hasn’t played since Los Angeles’ third game on Sept. 23. He is eligible to return when the Rams visit Detroit on Sunday, but coach Sean McVay said the team won’t decide until Talib goes through the week of practice.

“Hopefully I look good enough so the coaches say I can play on Sunday,” Talib said.

Talib is eager to resume his first year with the Rams, who acquired him from Denver last March to play alongside Marcus Peters in a revamped secondary. Instead, Talib got hurt in Los Angeles’ third game and needed surgery on his ankle.

ABC joins draft coverage

ABC is joining the NFL draft broadcast business and will televise all three days of picks next April.

The network will join ESPN, also part of Walt Disney Company’s TV properties, for prime-time coverage on Thursday and Friday nights, April 25 and 26, from Nashville. NFL Network also will televise those two nights, which include the opening three rounds of the draft.

ABC will have a separate broadcast crew from ESPN and NFLN. On Day 3, April 27, ABC and ESPN will simulcast the final four rounds, while NFL Network does its own broadcast.

Handling coverage of the ABC telecasts will be ESPN’s College GameDay, college football’s longest-running pregame show. ESPN and ABC personalities and other “special guests” will be part of the multi-night ABC presentation.

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