Wow, WOW!!! What a Wild Card weekend for the good guys.
45 points - a Texans' playoff record
Two defensive touchdowns on back-to-back Browns' possessions
Revenge Week, part two.
There were so many Big Plays in this game and I know I'm going to miss one or two along the way, but I'll try to make sure I hit as many as possible. Let's dive into my Big Play Breakdown from the 45-14 win over the Cleveland Browns.
1st Quarter - Texans ball
1st and ten
-25 yard line
Browns ahead 7-3
The Browns responded to the Texans' field goal with a Kareem Hunt touchdown to take the lead 7-3. After a touchback, the Texans had the ball at the 25-yard line and put 11 personnel in the game. They lined up in a tight bunch to the right side and then gave some smoke and mirrors with WR Xavier Hutchinson going in motion to the left side. QB C.J. Stroud then turned and tossed the ball to RB Devin Singletary to the right side, first getting a pin down block from WR Nico Collins on the Browns DE. RG Shaq Mason took out Browns LB Sione Takitaki and RT George Fant pulled around Nico's block and took out the other playside linebacker. WR John Metchie III kicked out CB Greg Newsme and Motor hit the gas through the massive hole that those blocks created. Motor sped through the gaping hole and was off like a shot. He started off the drive with 28 HUGE yards and the Texans were ready to answer the Browns TD with one of their own.
2nd Quarter - Texans bal
1st and ten
-24 yard line
Browns ahead 14-10
Again, the Browns took the lead again at 14-10, answering the Nico Collins TD on the previous Texans possession. So, with Laremy Tunsil in the tent getting his leg looked at, the Texans put RT George Fant over on the left side and moved Charlie Heck into the game at RT. Then, OC Bobby Slowik put 22 personnel in the game (13 personnel if you consider Andrew Beck a TE). Regardless, it's a run look, no doubt and the Browns put nine guys within four yards of the line of scrimmage as a result. The Texans ran this play against the Jets earlier in the season and it was one of the few positive offensive plays that day. Brevin Jordan and Andrew Beck were aligned to the right of the formation. On the snap, C.J. faked a handoff to Singletary and moved to his right on boot/keeper action. What messed with the defense was when Beck, who was lined up as the wingback went INSIDE Jordan, who delayed his release just a bit. He counted to two Mississippi and then slid out into the flat. That pseudo switch release confused the Browns and no one covered Brevin in the flat. C.J. flipped the ball over a couple of Browns defenders and then watched Jordan race, SPRINT 76 yards down the field untouched for a 17-14 lead.
2nd Quarter - Texans ball
2nd and 20
Texans ahead 17-14
After getting a stop on the Browns drive, the Texans got the ball back one final time in the first half. But, a holding penalty on first down and a JOK TFL set the Texans back to 2nd and 20 at the Browns 37-yard line. The Texans came out in 21 personnel, with FB Andrew Beck lined up out wide to the right and TE Dalton Schultz as an in-line Y-TE on the right side. On the left side, WR Nico Collins was out wide with WR John Metchie III in the slot. Beck motioned into a wing position next to Schultz prior to the snap. C.J. faked an outside zone to the left as Metchie III ran back across the formation into the right flat. C.J. then booted back out to his right with all day to throw. As I'm watching this from my sideline spot, I could see Schultz running vertically up the field. With C.J. booting to his right, I did expect Schultz to run the corner route to that side, but he planted his foot and went completely back the other way, running AWAY from Stroud to the left side. But, Cleveland's safeties expected him to run that corner route too and moved to the right side of the field. They were fooled. Stroud had all day and then lofted one to the WIDE open left side of the field. All it then took was for Schultz to run through the beautiful pass, snatch the rock and score a backbreaking 37-yard TD to make it 24-14 at the half.
3rd Quarter - Browns ball
1st and ten
Texans ahead 24-14
After the Texans first drive of the second half stalled, the Browns took over and moved the ball into Texans territory. A GREAT David Bell catch gave them a first down at the Texans 34-yard line. On the ensuing first down, the Browns had 11 personnel in the game and put a 3x1 formation into the field. TE David Njoku motioned into the #3 WR position as the Texans played man coverage against it. Browns QB Joe Flacco took the snap and got heat immediately from his right side. DE Derek Barnett just flew past Browns RT James Hudson who didn't have any help because the Texans brought LB Blake Cashman on the blitz. Barnett hit Flacco and started to spin him around. As he did, Flacco decided he had to throw the ball given that it was fourth down. He launched one in my area near Steven Nelson who was in man coverage on the WR to that side. Nelson had his eyes on the ball so he could see that it was short. As the Browns WR kept running, Nelson re-directed forward, picked it off and then started racing for the end zone. He got a great block from Blake Cashman. He got a great block from Des King, cutting off David Njoku. Finally at the goal line, Derek Stingly shielded the Browns last hope RB Jerome Ford as Nelson sauntered into the end zone with another backbreaking defensive play and the first pick six of the season…and not the last one in this game.
3rd Quarter - Browns ball (following drive)
4th and two
Texans ahead 31-14
The Browns saw this one slipping away and decided to go for it as they faced a fourth down in their own territory. They came out in 12 personnel with WR Elijah Moore in the backfield. Just prior to the snap, Moore motioned out to the left side. The key, though, was the right side. WR Amari Cooper was in a condensed split with TE Harrison Bryant in the slot just inside of him. RB Kareem Hunt was to Flacco's right side. So, it acted like a bunch formation on the right side. The Texans showed five up front, but LB Blake Cashman dropped into coverage. Cooper ran a quick out to the right side and S Jalen Pitre had that under control so Flacco went to his inside pass catcher - Bryant on the little option stick route. Texans LB Christian Harris couldn't have played it any better. He knew the route out of the formation and watched Flacco's eyes the whole way. The veteran QB decided to throw it to Bryant anyway and Harris took off like a SHOT in front of Bryant, snatched the pass and took off for the end zone. There was no one in front of him and Harris took it into the end zone for the second pick six of the game and the nail in the Browns coffin.
Man, what a day. What a FREAKiN' DAY!!!