It feels weird to say that a win against the team, the Cleveland Browns, that has been the laughingstock of the NFL for years confirms anything, but.....the Texans solidified how good a team they were in a workmanlike dismantling of a squad that had come in on a high to NRG Stadium.
Some folks I'm sure will say that the Texans could have had a much tougher time if not for some plays and calls that went their way against the Browns. (Of course getting the calls and making the right plays at the right time are both hallmarks of the New England Patriots). Yes, if you reverse a few plays (in a vacuum) the Texans 29-13 win could have been a much closer game. But after watching the Texans dominate the first half 23-0,it would be difficult to imagine that the Texans could not have played it differently if the game had gotten any closer than it did. After that 23 point lead at half, the Texans never let the Cleveland Browns closer than the 16 point final score.
The most critical play to hold on to a comfortable lead?
It's the third quarter and the Browns had put together a solid drive to cut the lead to 23-7. After a long Houston drive ends up in a successful FG, the Browns hit on a 76 yard pass from Baker Mayfield to Antonio Callaway that was wiped out by a penalty. Two plays later, Mayfield hit Callaway on a shorter pass that Callaway broke out for a 71 yard gain, but terrific hustle and a brilliant strip by Justin Reid caused a fumble that the Texans recovered and frankly that kept the Browns from ever really making a game of this.
- Justin Reid sure looks like one of those "IT" players as he seems to make impact plays in every game
- After the Texans put up 6 sacks last week against the Redskins, they had a big bagel this week as Mayfield got passes out in a hurry (and sometimes to the wrong guys) and also showed a lot of maneuverability. Even though the Texans had no sacks, their pressure on Mayfield helped produce his 3 interception day.
- Deshaun Watson protected the ball again with no turnovers and was extremely efficient in the first half in building the big lead. He went 22 for 31 and 224 yards and tacked on 30 yards of rushing
- The Texans rushing game was very solid again on Sunday with Lamar Miller leading the way with 19 rushes for 103 yards as part of a 187 yard rushing effort.
- Ka'imi Fairbairn looked like the ultimate dome kicker as he was 5 for 5 on FG tries, including a 53 yarder in the second half.
- The Texans defense turned the Browns over 4 times and Zach Cunningham returned one of Mayfield's three TDs on the day for a 38 yard pick-six in the 2nd quarter. By the way, has Cunningham been working out with DeAndre Hopkins? His one hand snag on the interception and his body control in scoring his first career TD were both reminiscent of D-Hop.
- Watson spread the wealth around hitting seven different receivers and connecting with Jordan Thomas for a TD on a pass where he showed beautiful touch
- DeAndre Carter is turning out to be maybe too exciting a player as he put the ball on the ground two more times in this game, luckily not costing the team a turnover. He shows a lot of speed and moves, but Bill O'Brien will send him packing if he does not do a better job of securing the ball.
- The Browns look like a team that will eventually learn to get out of its own way with inopportune penalties and turnovers and Mayfield looks like a real leader out there. He will learn and they will improve with him. (I liked how he was the first guy to console Callaway after his fumble.)
- The Texans held the Browns to 31 yards rushing on nine attempts
- Andre Hal continued an almost unrecognized feel good story as he made a big pick-off at the end of the first half that led to the Texans' closing FG. People diagnosed with cancer in the off-season are not supposed to be playing at all, much less thriving as Hal has done.
- The Texans 8 for 16 on 3rd down conversions was very strong
- The Texans allowed Mayfield to pass for 397 yards on the day
- The Texans settled for 5 FGs against the two TDs they scored on the day
- Again, they were outscored in the second half of a game, 13-6
- They only had 117 yards of offense in the second half after putting up 272 yards in the first
- On the tail end of Justin Reid's strip fumble, Aaron Colvin and Tyrann Mathieu tried to return what should have been a simple touchback in a brain f$%t that could have ended up in a fumble back to the Browns
- They did not sack Mayfield even though he passed 43 times. The trio of Jadeveon Clowney, J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus combined for 4 tackles, including 1 TFL.
- Carter almost had a couple of key fumbles
- Watson was sacked 4 times and came close a few more times, but part of that is still on him and holding the ball too long
- The Texans for the umpteenth time this season almost ran out of offensive lineman as they continue to have injuries during the game to this thin group