The Cleveland Browns Fall to the Houston Texans 23-7

CLEVELAND — Houston Texans defeated the Cleveland Browns by the score of 23-7. As a result of porous defense and an ineffective run game. The Texans did not have to bring extra defenders to stop the run, which made the Browns one-dimensional. Subsequently, they were able to keep pressure on Hoyer throughout the game.

Browns vs. Texans J.J. Watt

Very little went right for the Browns in the first quarter. On the Texan’s second possession they went on an 89-yard, 12 play, 4:47 second drive which ended in a J.J. Watt touchdown reception. Browns’ head coach Mike Pettine spoke about Watt’s touchdown grab after the game.

“It was a heck of a throw, heck of a catch. When I looked at the replay, I knew they weren’t going to overturn it. Whether it was his elbow, whatever it was, something hit first. It was a heck of a play.”

The Browns responded by going on a 3:23 drive on their own, which was sparked by a 35-yard run by Isaiah Crowell. The Browns responded by going on a 3:23 drive on their own, which was sparked by a 35-yard run by Isaiah Crowell. The Browns attempted a 38-yard field goal, but unfortunately came up empty, giving the Texans the ball on downs at their 28-yard line.

The Texans began driving again but Joe Haden came up with an interception in the red zone on a pass intended for DeAndre Hopkins. The interception was Haden’s first on the season.

With 10:32 left in the second quarter, the Browns looked to have gone three and out before J.J. Watt acquired his second roughing the kicker penalty which Browns vs. Texans Ryan Mallettresulted in an automatic first down for the Browns. The Browns moved the football through the air following the penalty, first connecting with Taylor Gabriel for a 23-yard gain, then Andrew Hawkins on a 32-yard touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.

The Browns defense appeared to settle in holding the Texans to two short drives, but would give up another touchdown to the Texans just before the half. With 23 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Ryan Mallett connected with tight end Garrett Graham on a 20-yard touchdown to put the Texans ahead 14-7.

The Browns continued to give up yards on the ground in the second half, and injuries to Karlos Dansby, Billy Winn and Jabaal Sheard certainly didn’t help. The Texans went on a 2:40 drive, which culminated in a field goal, making the score 17-7. The Texans added two more field goals in the 4th quarter to make the final score 23-7.

 

Positives

-       Taylor Gabriel continues to put up stellar numbers in his rookie season. He’s being targeted more with each passing week, and rightfully so.

-       The Browns secondary did not play poorly at all. Joe Haden (who had a career high 13 tackles on the afternoon), Buster Skrine and K’Waun Williams did an outstanding job eliminating big plays through the air and quickly closed on underneath routes. The Browns held Mallett to 211 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on the afternoon.

-       Rookie guard Joel Bitonio did an outstanding job keeping Jadeveon Clowney and others at bay when called upon to do so. He delivered a great punch at the point of attack particularly in the run game, which made it difficult for defenders to get penetration.

 

Areas for Improvement

-       The Browns had a difficult time defending the run today as Alfred Blue had 80 yards on just 16 carries at halftime. Blue finished with 156 yards on 36Browns vs. Texans Alfred Blue carries. The Browns’ defensive linemen were moved off the ball routinely, which allowed Texans’ offensive linemen to work into the second level of the defense. Pettine said after the game,

 “Their offensive line, especially in the run game, I think is one of the better ones in the league and just proven by that you can substitute the back out and still have success.”

-       Ryan Mallett essentially had no pressure in his face the entire game, which allowed him to maintain accuracy as the game progressed. Mallett was a very efficient 20 of 30 for 211 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. The Texans made quick throws to mitigate the pass rush, and increased the tempo to keep the Browns defense off balance and their strategy worked. The Browns seemed relatively unprepared for the Texans approach on offense. While the team looked unprepared for the aforementioned strategies applied by the Texans, Pettine felt his team was prepared going into the game.

“It certainly didn’t catch us off guard. We had worked on it during the week. That was something (Texans’ head coach) Bill O’Brien used in New England, going up-tempo out of the two-tight end, two wide-receiver grouping. We had separate calls for it and things we worked, but they just out-executed us at times.”

-       The Browns are currently rated as one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. With injuries to Karlos Dansby, Jabaal Sheard and Billy Winn, I can’t fathom their run defense improving. The injured players will be further evaluated Monday morning. Hopefully their injuries aren’t too serious as the Browns can ill afford to lose any more talent along their defensive front.

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