Everybody knew that the Houston Texans were going to win this game. Even Cleveland Browns fans were writing this game off before it even started. What everyone is still discovering, though, is just how physical the Texans were going to play.
Defensively, the Texans looked like one of the best teams in the NFL in their match-up with Cleveland. By the end of this game the Texans finished with four sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble. They allowed less than 175 total yards and held the Browns running game to less than 50 yards.
All-in-all this game was a defensive clinic put on by the Texans. Perhaps most impressive, defensively, was the play of ILB Brian Cushing and OLB Brooks Reed. There were, perhaps, no plays during which Cushing and Reed were not involved. They both brought tremendous amounts of pressure to Browns QB Colt McCoy and each were able to sack him as well (Cushing once, Reed twice).
One of the hardest hits of the game came with 6:29 left in the game. McCoy took the snap and dropped back into the pocket where he was met by an unblocked Brooks Reed. Reed decleated McCoy, hammering his body with a brutal hit and driving him into the ground. The hit was so hard that you could hear it via the hyperbolic microphones and it sent shivers through your body.
Surprisingly enough, McCoy was lucid enough after the game to make a statement about the Texans defense. Sports Radio 610 had the following Colt from the beleaguered McCoy:
"They came from the first snap to the last and it’s frustrating…They were able to create a lot of pressure up front. At times, it was hard to overcome"
However, the defense was not the only highlight of this game. May I introduce to you RB Arian Foster and Ben Tate, the only two running backs on the same team with over 500 rushing yards each. As if this were not enough, they both racked up another 100+ yards in today’s game with each accounting for a touchdown as well. Altogether, the Texans rushed for a franchise record 261 yards and 3 rushing TDs.
Ben Tate was an absolutely dominating force for the Texans offense. His 115 yards came on only 12 rushes for an average of 9.58 yards/rush. He did not need big holes to rush through, he created them as he drug defenders down the field or simply bulldozed his way through them.
Foster also looked like a stud running back with his 124 yards on 19 rushes. His one-cut style of running had the Browns defenders flailing all over the place as they were left sucking the dust from his runs. Anyone who ever considered Foster to be a one-and-done running back in the NFL can now curl up and wallow in misery as they realize that the Texans have the best running back tandem in the league.
Not to be outdone by Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs, WR Jacoby Jones made some great contributions on special teams during today’s game. With 2:59 left in the second quarter Cleveland was wrapping up their three-and-out. Brad Maynard punted the ball from the Browns 38-yard line to the Houston 10-yard line. Jones cleanly caught the kick and took off, weaving in and out of traffic until he was drug down from behind at the Browns 40-yard line. This was Jones’ third punt return for more than 40 yards.
Altogether, the Texans looked like a well-oiled machine today. They started strong in the first half and sat back a little in the second half while ensuring that the opponent did not gain too much momentum. They contained the run game, did not allow many huge passes, and got to the quarterback enough to disrupt his rhythm.
In fact, even QB Matt Schaub contributed to the game in a unique way as he rushed for a 2-yard touchdown in the first quarter. This is the second game in a row in which Schaub has done so and ties his rushing TD record from 2008. This is the Texans third straight win. They are now 6-3 on the season which is the first time in franchise history when they have been three games above .500.
Lastly, we must not forget to credit the Texans offensive line. They did not allow the Browns to sack Schaub even once and provided great running lanes for Tate and Foster’s rushing performance. They continue to push defensive lines around and are a major contributor to the Texans recent success.