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Week 13 Game Recap: Cleveland Browns 13, Houston Texans 29


What you need to know

Cleveland Browns

All the positive momentum the Browns had been showing in the past few weeks came to a screeching halt in Week 13 against the Houston Texans. Playing the toughest defense they had seen in a while, Cleveland struggled to move the ball, especially in the first half. Facing a 23-0 deficit heading into the second half, they were able to start moving the ball, partially thanks to soft coverage from Houston. Baker Mayfield threw three consecutive first-half interceptions while the Browns lost two key defensive players due to injury. Denzel Ward left with a concussion and Larry Ogunjobi left with a biceps injury.

Houston Texans

WR Keke Coutee was inactive for the game due to his ongoing hamstring issue. WR DeAndre Carter filled in for him at the slot position.

RB D’Onta Foreman will have his fate decided this week on whether the Texans activate him to the 53-man roster. The Texans have until Thursday to make the decision.

Cleveland Browns

QB Baker Mayfield, 57 offensive snaps, Pass: 29 - 43 - 397 - 1 TD / 3 INT
Mayfield played his worst game in a while, but he still showed the flashes that have many in Cleveland excited about his future. Mayfield shows excellent accuracy and zip on his passes, even when throwing on the run. His first half was brutal, as he completed just 5-of-13 passes for 46 yards while throwing three consecutive interceptions. His first pick was brutal as it went for a pick-six. Facing pressure from the pass rush, he forced a poor pass down the middle of the field. Mayfield's second interception came when the defender read his eyes and jumped in front of Antonio Callaway's route. He had another interception overturned by replay but came back and threw his final pick at the end of the second quarter. He targeted David Njoku in the end zone but overthrew the tight end. The ball wound up in the hands of a Houston defender. The second half was better as Mayfield led the Browns to a touchdown on their first drive. The second drive of the third quarter should have ended in another touchdown. It appeared as though Mayfield had a 76-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway but the play was nullified by an offensive holding penalty. After a running play, he hit Callaway again, this time going for 71 yards. Callaway appeared to have a chance to score but he was stripped and lost the ball at the Houston one-yard line. Mayfield's lone touchdown pass went to Rashard Higgins in the fourth quarter. He showed great accuracy on the run to hit Higgins in the back right corner of the end zone for the 17-yard score. This game served as a good reminder that despite how well Mayfield has looked at times, he is still a rookie and is going to make mistakes along the way.

RB Nick Chubb, 27 offensive snaps, Rush: 9 - 31 - 1, Rec: 3 - 41 - 0 (3 targets)
Thanks to the Browns getting themselves in a 23-0 hole at halftime, Chubb only wound up seeing nine carries in the game. He still managed to turn in a solid day, thanks to a two-yard touchdown and three catches in the passing game. He continues to show excelling running ability, juking defenders to avoid tackles and showing good vision on cut backs to find holes in the line. In the second quarter, it appeared Chubb had an 11-yard reception but the official scorers changed the ruling, deciding that it was a running play. He did most of his damage on the Browns' first touchdown-scoring drive of the third quarter. Chubb ripped off receptions of eight and 24 yards to help get his team in scoring position. He even lined up wide right on one play. His touchdown capped off that drive, a two-yard run up the middle where he cut back to find the hole. Chubb remains one of the more exciting young running backs in the league and continues to prove he's an asset in the passing game.

RB Duke Johnson, 20 offensive snaps, Rec: 2 - 12 - 0 (3 targets)
Johnson surprisingly only saw two touches despite the Browns trailing for the entire game. One would expect negative game script would be a recipe for success for Johnson but he simply wasn't a big part of the game plan. His first target came down the right sideline. Baker Mayfield misfired on the throw, but Johnson had stepped out of bounds before the pass came, which would have nullified the catch had he been able to make it. In the third quarter, Johnson appeared to have a 22-yard reception but that play came back thanks to an offensive holding penalty. He finished his day with a short, five-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Johnson had been showing signs of life when the new coaching staff took over in Cleveland but this is two straight weeks where he was an afterthought in the offense.

WR Jarvis Landry, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 103 - 0 (9 targets)
Landry broke a mini slump, topping 100 yards for the first time since Week 3. He caught three passes in the team's poor first half, going for 16, seven, and 22 yards. His 22-yard reception over the middle was a nice snatch catch off of an accurate throw from Baker Mayfield. Landry was then quiet until garbage time in the fourth quarter. He made an impressive one-handed catch which went for 25 yards and then tip-toed the sideline for a 28-yarder. On the second drive of the fourth quarter, it appeared he and Mayfield would connect on another long pass but a hard hit near the right sideline jarred the ball loose. The replay showed the defender may have gotten away with a helmet-to-helmet hit on the play. Landry's final catch was a short five-yarder on a crossing route. While Landry isn't showing the high floor he did in fantasy when he was a Dolphin, he remains the team's top wide receiver and should see enough volume to stay afloat, especially in games where the Browns are trailing or passing to keep up on the scoreboard.

WR Rashard Higgins, 33 offensive snaps, Rec: 4 - 62 - 1 (4 targets)
Higgins wasn't heard from until the third quarter but he made his mark on the game. Higgins caught a 19-yard pass on the team's first drive of the third quarter. He then came back in the fourth quarter and hauled in a 21-yard pass. He was wide open in the middle of the field and had no issues securing the easy catch. Higgins caught Baker Mayfield's lone touchdown pass, a 17-yard strike in the back right corner of the end zone. He got behind his defender on a double move and did a nice job getting both feet down in bounds for the score.

WR Antonio Callaway, 41 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 84 - 0 (6 targets)
Callaway had an adventurous game, coming close to scoring twice. He was mostly quiet in the first half, catching a six-yard pass, although he did draw a 47-yard defensive pass interference penalty. In the third quarter, the rookie wide receiver appeared to have a 76-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield but the play wound up getting nullified thanks to offensive holding. A few plays later, he caught another pass from Mayfield and took it 71 yards before getting stripped and losing a fumble at the Houston one-yard line. He had a good chance at falling into the end zone for a touchdown had he been able to hold onto the ball. He made one final catch in the fourth quarter, a seven-yard catch. Callaway has been inconsistent in his rookie season but he has been trending up over the past few games.

TE David Njoku, 46 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 8 - 0 (6 targets)
Njoku wound up turning in a disappointing stat line against a Texans defense that has struggled to cover opposing tight ends. He lost five yards on his first catch of the game. In the second quarter, he had a target nullified when he drew a defensive holding penalty. He did see an end zone target on one of Baker Mayfield's three interceptions. Mayfield saw Njoku in the end zone but the pass was overthrown, giving him no chance to make a play. In the fourth quarter he appeared to be open in the middle of the field but the ball was tipped at the last second by Tyrann Mathieu. His final catch went for nine yards. Njoku has been up-and-down of late but he remains one of the top-two options in the team's passing game.


Houston Texans

QB Deshaun Watson, 76 offensive snaps, Pass: 22 - 31 - 224 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 7 - 30 - 0
It continues to be an impressive run throwing the ball for Deshaun Watson during this win streak. Watson has improved his accuracy and continues to depend on DeAndre Hopkins in the passing game. Watson was able to hit Hopkins for 29 and 24 yards to open up the passing attack against the Browns. He threw a nice corner route to Hopkins who was being draped on by the defensive back who was grabbing hair and a face mask but a pinpoint pass allowed Hopkins to haul the pass in. Watson also threw 6 smoke screen this game targeted for DeAndre Carter and Hopkins but it was Carter who was able to eat up yards with 11 and 7 yard gains. Watson was able to control the 10-19 yard range and that came with completions to Demaryius Thomas for 15, Jordan Akins for 13 and Hopkins for 17. Add in the work he did with the tight end group for five receptions on five targets for 56 yards and a touchdown. Watson’s only touchdown on the day was on a 11-yard play action pass to Jordan Thomas who ran a nice corner route to beat the safety that was covering him. Watson also had 30 yards on the ground which continues to be a good sign for the Texans who have tried to limit how much he has been running.

RB Lamar Miller, 41 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 103 - 0, Rec: 1 - 12 - 0 (1 targets)
Lamar Miller has now rushed for 100-yards in 4 of his last 6 games and it continued to be a productive day for the veteran back. Miller rushed for 103 yards and his longest rush was for 32-yards to get him over the century mark. Again, Miller was able to break down the the Browns and the cut back was there for him in the zone game. Miller remains the bell-cow for the Texans offense but they are being careful with him not to overload him with work running the football.

RB Alfred Blue, 36 offensive snaps, Rush: 13 - 54 - 0
The Texans are still trying to split the carried between Blue and Miller, it is working keeping both fresh for the game. Blue continues to get the grunt work but he is getting yards when needed. He has a 17-yard rush that almost broke but was tripped up from behind, Blue also had a 21-yard touchdown run called back due to a holding call. Blue remains a viable option in the offense especially how the Texans want to play the game during their win streak.

WR DeAndre Hopkins, 75 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 91 - 0 (12 targets)
When the targets head his way, DeAndre Hopkins continues to make plays. Hopkins caught passes for 29 and 24 yards to open up the offense in the 1st quarter. Hopkins also had a nice in route where Watson waited for him to real and hit him for 17 yard gain to keep the chains moving. There were some questionable non-calls on Hopkins the refs left defenders get away with not letting him get into routes that caused some errant passes from Watson.

WR DeAndre Carter, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 32 - 0 (6 targets)
With Keke Coutee down for the game, the Texans turned to DeAndre Carter to fill in at the slot position. Carter had 6 targets and caught all of them for 32 yards. They used Carter in the smoke screen game where he had four opportunities with just that play. He had a 11, 7, 2 and a no gain in this chances. The 11 yard gain looked like it could have been more if he kept his eyes up and went to where there was open field. Carter also had a key 8 yard reception in the middle of the filed to pick up a key first down late in the game. The one thing plaguing Carter is that he is having trouble holding onto the football, he had a fumble on a reception that bounced out of bounds.

WR Demaryius Thomas, 60 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 32 - 0 (5 targets)
The Texans might get caught up on getting the ball to Hopkins but they are doing a better job on getting Demaryius Thomas involved in the offense. Thomas had reception for 15, 9 and 7. The 15-yard gain was on a good in-route deep in the middle of the field and his route opened up a nice window for Watson to hit him. There is still work to be done but they are working to keep Thomas involved in the offense.

TE Jordan Thomas, 40 offensive snaps, Rec: 3 - 32 - 1 (3 targets)
The young tight end shows signs of being a big play maker for the tight end position and then he will disappear at times. This week, Thomas was able to get back into the end zone with a 11 yard touchdown reception. Thomas was able to run a good out route and get away from a defender holding him in coverage. He also caught a check down pass for 15 yards filling the void where the defender was blitzing from. Thomas continued to evolve was a pass catcher which is a positive for Watson.