CLEVELAND — Deshaun Watson looked less rusty in his first action this preseason, and Jacoby Brissett had a TD run in his return to Cleveland as the Washington Commanders beat the Browns 17-15 on Friday night in an exhibition delayed more than an hour at the start by a storm.
Watson took the Browns (1-1) on a 67-yard drive to Washington’s 1-yard line in his one series.
His performance — 3-for-3 for 12 yards, 20 yards rushing — was far better than his preseason debut a year ago, when he completed just one pass at Jacksonville just days before being suspended by the NFL.
Washington’s Sam Howell, who is trying to hold on to his starting job, threw a 26-yard touchdown pass — against mostly Cleveland backups — to Jahan Dotson and had a few other nice moments in his two series. He finished 9-for-12 for 77 yards.
Howell was replaced by Brissett, who went 4-7 in 11 starts for Cleveland in 2022 while Watson was out. The 30-year-old scampered 12 yards for a score in the second quarter to put the Commanders (1-0) ahead 14-2.
Browns rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw a TD pass to David Bell in the third, and Kellen Mond’s 20-yard scoring pass to Mike Harley Jr. with 1:39 left brought Cleveland within two at 17-15.
The Browns’ 2-point attempt failed.
The opening kickoff was pushed back by a thunderstorm that blew in about 30 minutes before the scheduled 7:38 p.m. start.
Fans were advised to “seek shelter immediately,” and many scurried from their seats into the concourses and stadium tunnel ways. During the delay, Commanders coach Ron Rivera and several players came out of the locker room to check on the weather and to find out if there would be a game.
The kickoff eventually came at 8:48, and Rivera and Browns coach Kevin Stefanski decided to play most of their starters despite the wet field conditions.
Watson arrived at Browns Stadium wearing a No. 32 Jim Brown throwback jersey. The team invested $230 million in him despite Watson being accused of sexual assault and harassment by more than two dozen women.
Even when he returned, Watson rarely played up to expectations while going 3-3 in six starts. The Browns are counting on much more this season.
He’s got new weapons and Watson quickly connected with one, throwing a 6-yard pass to Elijah Moore on Cleveland’s first play. Watson also showed his elusiveness, pulling free from Chase Young for a 9-yard run.
Moore left the field after Cleveland’s opening series. The team said X-rays on his ribs were negative.