Week 17 Game Recap: Cleveland Browns 6, Houston Texans 14
What you need to know
Despite outgaining the Texans in every facet of the game, the Browns fumbled away opportunity after opportunity to put points on the board, turning the ball over three times in Houston territory and failing to take advantage of those times which they didn’t give the ball up. In his return from a wrist injury, Charlie Frye looked pretty good for a guy who was struggling to throw the ball downfield, completing 25 of 34 passes for 187 yards with one interception.
Kellen Winslow finished with the big game, catching eleven balls for 93 yards, but Braylon Edwards was targeted almost as much, though Edwards only finished with four catches for 46 yards. Looking for the short pass over the middle of the field, Steve Heiden saw most of the remaining targets, catching three passes for 17 yards. With Joe Jurevicius and Dennis Northcutt inactive for the game, rookie Travis Wilson got a start and caught the only ball intended for him on a sixteen yard pass. Return man Josh Cribbs was not targeted in this game, but did line up behind center as the quarterback, a position he played in college, and ran the ball for a seven yard gain.
Out of the backfield, Reuben Droughns finished with one of his better performances on the season, gaining 83 yards on nineteen carries in addition to catching three balls for two yards. Jerome Harrison saw very little action in this game again, losing two yards on his only carry of the afternoon. Fullback Terrelle Smith gained one yard on his only carry and added seven yards through the air on two receptions. Upback Lawrence Vickers caught one pass out of the backfield for six yards. Frye showed his mobility escaping the pass rush, and gained 36 yards on five carries.
The Texans had to scramble to make adjustments when Ron Dayne tweaked his ankle during warm-ups, and tight end Jeb Putzier reportedly suffered a worse ankle injury during pregame action. This did however afford the Texans the luxury of seeing what rookie RB Chris Taylor could do, and Taylor responded nicely, gaining 99 yards on 20 carries and scoring from five yards out on the opening drive of the third quarter. Taylor also caught a twelve yard pass out of the backfield. Fellow rookie Wali Lundy carried the ball on a long third down of the opening drive, and caught an eight yard pass later in the game, spelling Taylor after a series of nice runs by Taylor. Fullback Vonta Leach caught two passes out of the backfield for 33 yards. Quarterback David Carr officially lost eight yards on five carries.
The passing attack was rather quiet against Cleveland, though the Browns ineptitude never forced Houston into a position where they felt they had to throw. David Carr completed nine of 15 passes for 86 yards and one interception. Carr’s most targeted wide receiver was Andre Johnson, though he ended up catching just two balls for twelve yards. Fellow wideout Eric Moulds pulled in two passes for eleven yards. From the tight end spot, Mark Bruener caught one pass for ten yards.
What you ought to know
|QB Charlie Frye, Pass: 25 - 34 - 187 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - 36 - 0|
Despite his wrist injury, Frye completed 74 percent of his passes, though his inability to go downfield limited the average gain per attempt to just 5.5 yards. Including the interception on a ball thrown to the end zone, Frye’s passer rating on the day was 74.0. The injury last week to Derek Anderson opened the door for Frye to have one final game to audition for the starting quarterback job in 2007, and he performed well enough to not be discounted, though Browns management will certainly explore the possibility of bringing in a veteran or drafting a quarterback at the top of the draft.
Droughns finished the season better than he had started, and finally was beginning to again look healthy and productive, but may not have the opportunity to showcase those talents in a Browns uniform next season. With a 4.4 yard per carry average against the Texans, Droughns eclipsed the four yard per carry mark for just the third time this season, all coming in December. Unfortunately for the Browns, who lost six of their last seven and finished 4-12, only three times all season did they give him twenty carries in a game, none of which were games in which he exceeded the four yard per carry mark. As a result of injuries and the Browns struggles, Droughns did not even gain 1000 all purpose yards on the season, and only found the end zone four times. In this game, he fumbled the ball twice, losing one of them. With the Browns securing the third pick in next year’s draft, the Browns may choose to add a top a running back or top notch left tackle, both of which could dramatically improve the Browns running game in 2007.
Edwards was heavily targeted in this game, but quarterback Charlie Frye struggled to hit his open receiver downfield and outside the hash marks. Edwards was the intended target on Frye’s interception, a poorly thrown ball to the end zone from the Houston eighteen yard line.
Wilson got the start with Joe Jurevicius and Dennis Northcutt sidelined, but was targeted just once in the first quarter of the game.
Winslow was heavily utilized in this game and further showed his abilities to serve as Frye’s possession receiver and security blanket in his first full season, and with eleven catches in the game, tied Ozzie Newsome’s team record for most catches by a Browns tight end in a season.
Heiden was also the beneficiary of the Browns’ game plan for a short passing attack in their final week of the season. Despite taking a backseat to Kellen Winslow most of the season, Heiden finished with a respectable 36 catches, 249 yards and two touchdowns, though his average yards per completion dropped nearly three yards compared to the two previous seasons where he caught a similar number of balls.
Dawson missed wide right from 48 yards out early in the game and did not help the Browns in their failed pursuits to put points on the board early, but made field goals from 36 and 43 yards later in the game. Dawson’s 43 yarder ended the first half to give the Browns a 3-0 lead.
The rush defense gave up nearly 100 yards and five yards per carry to an untested rookie, though looked better as a unit as the game went on in limiting the longer runs that kept the Browns’ offense off the field earlier in the game.
The Texans rarely tried to pass in this game, and as such, the Browns held them under 100 yards, and picked up a sack and interception in this game in a losing effort.
|QB David Carr, Pass: 9 - 15 - 86 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 5 - -8 - 0|
Carr completed sixty percent of his passes for an average of 5.7 yards per attempt en route to a passer rating of 48.2. Though Carr got off to a fairly good start, and led the team to three wins in the month of December, he had only two touchdowns in the final ten games of the season, and seemed to regress as the season went along. He was not asked to do much against the Browns in this game, and his future in Gary Kubiak’s offensive scheme remains unclear for 2007.
|RB Chris Taylor, Rush: 20 - 99 - 1, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (1 targets)|
Taylor took advantage of Ron Dayne’s misfortune, gaining his first significant playing time as a rookie, something that had been promised to him for weeks. Taylor looked most impressive in the opening drive of the third quarter, when he ran six times for forty yards, capping it off with a nice run where he bounced outside to the left and dove for a five yard touchdown. Breaking down Taylor’s game, he gained 35 yards on six carries in the first half and 64 yards on fourteen carries in the second half, though after his score, he carried the ball eight times and gained more than two yards just two times. Whether this was a sign that he was not prepared to carry the load deep into the game, or an adjustment made by the Browns in a game in which they trailed would be difficult to determine based upon an NFL history as primary back in the offense for just one game.
Though his touchdown came on a play where bounced outside to the left, Taylor looked much better running right, gaining 55 yards on eight carries, including runs of 6, 8, 13 and 17 yards. In nine runs to the left, he only gained more than his five yards per carry average once, an eight yard run in the games final minutes. While averaging nearly seven yards per carry to the right, Taylor averaged less than four yards per carry to the left. It is worth noting that Taylor ran hard and gained positive yardage on all twenty carries.
Moulds was not even targeted in this game until the second half, and caught both balls thrown his way. In his first season outside of Buffalo, Moulds failed to live up to the every other year trend he had developed, going back to 1998 where he only gained more than 1000 yards in even years. With the Texans, he caught 57 balls for 557 yards, the lowest yard per catch average in eleven seasons for the 33 year old.
Johnson had a quiet afternoon, but even in a game where he did not accomplish anything, it was quite apparent he was drawing the attention of the Browns defense, creating opportunities for his teammates. Johnson finished the season with 103 receptions, but only five touchdowns.
Bruener filled in for the recently injured Jeb Putzier and rookie Owen Daniels on injured reserve, catching one of the two passes thrown his way.
Brown connected successfully on both extra points, and did not attempt a field goal in this game.
The Texans knew that the Browns’ passing game was primarily going to be short passes and were able to bring their safeties up somewhat in this game, which also helped to support the run. This kept Reuben Droughns from consistently piling up the yards, and limited him to a long run on the day of 12 yards, and also helped to force two fumbles by Droughns, one of which the Texans recovered.
The biggest play of the day came when defensive tackle Anthony Maddox forced quarterback Charlie Frye to fumble, then scooped the ball up and ran 47 yards for a touchdown. On top of this, the Texans came up with a red zone interception to end an early scoring opportunity by the Browns, and despite giving up eleven catches to Kellen Winslow, still kept the Browns relatively in check most of the afternoon.