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Sunday September 25th, 2016 8:18AM

Clowney makes impact, as Falcons take on Texans in preseason

By The Associated Press
HOUSTON - Jadeveon Clowney is already showing how dominant he can be in the NFL.<br /> <br /> The top overall pick in the draft made big hits behind the line on consecutive plays and Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a touchdown pass to DeVier Posey in the Texans' 32-7 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday night.<br /> <br /> Houston selected Clowney out of South Carolina to form a powerful 1-2 pass-rushing attack with J.J. Watt. Watt sat out Saturday's game and Clowney seized the defensive spotlight on Atlanta's second series.<br /> <br /> He burst through the line untouched and crashed into Antone Smith almost the second the running back took a handoff from Matt Ryan. On the next snap, Clowney whipped around left tackle Sam Baker and smacked down Ryan for a 7-yard loss.<br /> <br /> "It's work," Clowney said. "You just got to work and get after the guys, go hard and hope for something good. You just have to do your job."<br /> <br /> Jonathan Grimes returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and Andre Hal returned an interception 64 yards for another score for the Texans (1-1), who were significantly better than they were in a 32-0 loss to Arizona last week.<br /> <br /> Clowney set the tone for the turnaround performance.<br /> <br /> "When a guy makes a defensive play that's a big hit, it really lights up your sideline," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said.<br /> <br /> The Falcons (1-1), meanwhile, have plenty to fix and may have taken a huge blow on their offensive line. Baker left on a cart in the second quarter with a right knee injury and Atlanta coach Mike Smith didn't know the severity after Saturday's game.<br /> <br /> Baker started 16 games in 2012, but played in just four games last season because of a left knee injury that required surgery in November.<br /> <br /> Ryan went 3 for 7 in a quarter and a half of work and wide receiver Julio Jones caught two passes in his first live-game action since he broke his right foot in Week 5 last season. The Falcons finished with 248 yards and 19 first downs.<br /> <br /> "We just had a few plays here and there that kind of got off schedule, and when you do that against a good defense it's tough to overcome those mistakes," Ryan said. "We had opportunities to make plays, we just didn't make them."<br /> <br /> Fitzpatrick completed 9 of 12 passes for the Texans, guiding the offense much more smoothly than he did against the Cardinals. O'Brien said Fitzpatrick's performance carried over from a strong week at practice.<br /> <br /> "He's getting more and more comfortable with the system and he went out there and played a good game for our team," O'Brien said.<br /> <br /> He went 3 for 5 and had a 10-yard scramble on Houston's initial scoring drive and rookie Alfred Blue, a sixth-round pick from LSU, finished it with runs of 10, 3 and 1 yard to put the Texans in front.<br /> <br /> Sean Renfree replaced Ryan with 6:20 left in the first half and led the Falcons on an 11-play, 66-yard touchdown drive. Renfree, competing with T.J. Yates for the backup job behind Ryan, found Devin Hester on a 12-yard pass with 1:32 left for the tying score.<br /> <br /> Rookie Tom Savage played one series before Fitzpatrick returned to lead the Texans in the final 90 seconds before halftime. Fitzpatrick had a 15-yard scramble and then connected with Keshawn Martin for a 31-yard gain to the Falcons 15.<br /> <br /> A Falcons' penalty moved the ball to the Atlanta 8, and Fitzpatrick avoided the rush to his right before finding Posey in the back of the end zone with 19 seconds left.<br /> <br /> Case Keenum, competing with Savage for the backup role behind Fitzpatrick, started the second half for the Texans and guided a drive to the Atlanta 22 before Kemal Ishmael intercepted him near the goal line.<br /> <br /> Houston's special teams and defense took over from there.<br /> <br /> Anthony Denham blocked Matt Bosher's punt from the end zone, and Grimes scooped up the loose ball and ran 17 yards for a score.<br /> <br /> Yates played the fourth quarter under constant pressure, and tried a futile tackle attempt on Hal's return. Matt Bullough also intercepted Yates, setting up a 33-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.<br /> <br /> Notes: Andre Johnson, Arian Foster and Brian Cushing were among the inactive players for Houston. ... Second-round draft pick Xavier Su'a-Filo started at right guard for the Texans. Su'a-Filo has also been practicing at left tackle and working on center-quarterback exchanges in practice. ... Justin Tuggle started for Cushing and made two tackles against his father's old team. Jessie Tuggle, a three-time All-Pro, played for the Falcons from 1987-2000.
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