Week 8 Game Recap: Cleveland Browns 16, Houston Texans 19
What you need to know
The Browns lost this game due primarily to poor special teams play and the inability to hang onto the football, with key fumbles by Trent Dilfer and Reuben Droughns in the second half. The Browns beat themselves more so than the Texans’ defense stopped them. Especially in the running game. The passing game was moderately efficient, with Trent Dilfer finishing up 12 of 25 for 185 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Antonio Bryant was his primary target and leading receiver, finishing with four catches for 98 yards on the afternoon. Braylon Edwards had a quiet game with just two catches for 32 yards, while Dennis Northcutt failed to catch a ball. The tight ends were slightly more productive, with Steve Heiden catching four balls for 43 yards and Aaron Shea adding one catch, which went for an eight yard touchdown. Dilfer did not utilize his guys out of the backfield much in this game, as Droughns failed to catch a pass, and William Green had just one short catch for four yards.
The running game was much more efficient, however neither back was able to find the end zone on the afternoon. Reuben Droughns finished with twenty carries for 99 yards, while William Green carried the ball ten times for 48 yards. Green was featured more in recent weeks as the Browns were dedicated to running the ball, and also because of a Droughns’ fumble in the second half. Trent Dilfer added nine yards on three official carries.
Not only did the Texans get their first win of the season, they also took their first lead of the season in the first quarter of this game. Houston lost the lead, but were able to hang around, and persevered in the end. Despite the absence of Andre Johnson for the third straight game, the Texans’ offense figured out ways to get the ball into Browns’ territory and leave the rest to Kris Brown, who was quite active on the afternoon.
David Carr did not have an especially active afternoon, but guided his team to their first win of the season. Carr went ten of 20 for 138 yards, throwing for one touchdown and one interception, and was only sacked twice in this game. Jabar Gaffney was the main recipient of Carr’s looks, compiling 64 yards on the day on five catches. In addition to contributing heavily in the return game, Jerome Mathis caught a 34 yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to get the Texans started. Corey Bradford finished the day with just one catch for eight yards. Held back in pass protection, the tight ends saw only one target on the day, a play that went for an interception. Carr did not utilize Domanick Davis out of the backfield much either, throwing him just two balls for 25 yards.
Domanick Davis was the sole workhorse of the Texans’ rushing game, finishing with 28 carries for 91 yards. No other back touched the ball, with Jonathan Wells getting very little playing time to spell Davis. David Carr found himself flushed out of the pocket on numerous occasions throughout the game, and was able to avoid the rush on this day, officially gaining sixteen yards on eight attempts.
What you ought to know
|QB Trent Dilfer, Pass: 12 - 25 - 185 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 3 - 9 - 0|
Dilfer’s passer rating of 86.2 keys on the fact that averaged 7.4 yards per attempt and threw no interceptions, but overlooks his fumble in the Houston red zone when the Browns were up 13-10 and poised to build upon their lead. Dilfer failed to complete 50% of his passes on the afternoon, and struggled to find the open man throughout stretches in the game.
Droughns averaged five yards per carry in this game, but coughed up the ball in Cleveland territory on the ensuing drive following the Dilfer fumble in the third quarter in a 13-13 game. Droughns actually received the next five carries, but was not on the field for the final series of the game as the Browns were trying to drive down the field for a field goal to tie the game up at 19 a piece.
Green saw his most significant action since the first few games of the season, and played well when given his opportunities, adding more of an East-West flavor to the running game to counter the North-South downhill rushing style of Reuben Droughns. Green was present on the final drive of the game, though it was not clear if this was because he was the fresher back, or the Browns preferred his receiving skills in that situation.
Bryant had the biggest play of the day with a 54 yard catch, but the focus of his day was a twenty yard touchdown reception which his toe was ruled to be on the white line. The near touchdown catch was reviewed, and the call on the field was correctly upheld for no catch. Bryant was the target of Trent Dilfer’s first three passes, but seemed to disappear for parts of the afternoon, only to again become the focus in the fourth quarter.
Edwards had a quiet afternoon, however, in his defense, so did the entire Browns passing game. Edwards split time in two wide receiver sets with Dennis Northcutt.
Northcutt failed to catch a pass in this game, though he was not utilized in his typical role of being asked to go over the middle on slants and crosses. His primary contribution in this game was in the special teams’ game and as blocker in the rushing game, where he contributed a couple of nice blocks to open up room especially for William Green.
Heiden was utilized in a number of two tight end sets, and was the primary receiver in many of those sets, catching nearly everything thrown his way.
Despite catching a touchdown pass early in the game, Shea was looked to only once more as the game went on, being used more in blocking schemes on first and second downs.
Dawson connected on field goals of 28, 29 and 37 yards with a converted extra point for a perfect afternoon. Unfortunately for the Browns, this was not enough.
The Browns' rush defense kept Domanick Davis under 100 yards, but contributions from David Carr and Jabar Gaffney rounded the yardage allowed up to 117 yards. The rush defense buckled down when they needed to in their own territory, but couldn’t keep the Texans from moving into their own territory on far too many occasions.
The secondary came up with one interception, but the front line was only able to come up with two sacks on the afternoon. They held the Texans’ passing game to 138 yards, but a 34 yard touchdown pass to Jerome Mathis gave Houston the confidence they needed to peck away all day.
|QB David Carr, Pass: 10 - 20 - 138 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 8 - 16 - 0|
Carr finished with a passer rating of 68.3, but took what he was given all afternoon, and led the Texans to victory. He completed just 50% of his passes, and averaged just 6.9 yards per pass attempt, but was able to make the most of what was presented to him in this game. Carr avoided the sack on numerous occasions with a nice sidestep and strong lower body, and kept drives from stalling by getting rid of the ball earlier when necessary.
Davis was the only Texans’ back to touch the ball in this game, and had a solid afternoon both rushing the ball and catching it, as he finished with 116 net yards on 30 touches. Davis was a solid outlet out of the backfield, though held back in pass coverage, he did not get as many touches as he otherwise would have.
Gaffney continues to produce in the absence of Andre Johnson, and makes a case for continued looks opposite of Johnson in two wide receiver sets upon Johnson’s return. On short and mid-range patterns, Gaffney appeared to be the only Texans’ receiver capable of successfully running them, or at least was the only receiver targeted on them in this game.
In addition to his significant contributions in the kick return game where he gained 177 yards and had a key 63 yard return to set up the winning score, Mathis came down with the catch of the afternoon for the Texans early in the first quarter to give the team the lead and momentum they had been seeking all season long.
Bradford remains the deep threat target, but rarely did Carr have the time to set up for an accurate attempt downfield to Bradford, and thus Bradford was only able to pull in one ball on the afternoon.
Rivers was the noted recipient of the only target by David Carr to any of his tight ends, though the pass was intercepted. Mark Bruener got the start, but was not used at all in the passing game, but rather as an additional blocker to protect Carr.
Brown had a very busy afternoon, connecting from 35, 37, 38 and 40 yards on field goals plus adding a successful extra point to lead the Texans in scoring on the day. It was Brown’s 40 yard field goal which put the Texans ahead for good, though he had missed on a 38 yard attempt earlier in the quarter that would have extended the Texans lead to six.
The Texans were unable to stop the Browns’ rushing game, giving up 156 yards on the ground, however, fortunately were able to overcome this with strong special teams play, and by forcing key turnovers in the third quarter.
While the Texans’ secondary did not come up with any interceptions, the line only sacked Dilfer twice and they did give up a 54 yard passing play to Antonio Bryant, the pass defense actually had an efficient afternoon, limiting Trent Dilfer to a completion rate of less than 50%, and holding the Browns passing game under the 200 yard marker.