Improbably, the defense didn't give up a touchdown on Sunday but the Texans still lost.
The Browns triumphed, 27-14, over Houston on Sunday at NRG Stadium. They did so, however, on the strength of a pair of touchdowns scored by their defense, along with a punt return for a score on special teams.
"Whenever you talk about non-offensive touchdowns, and you give up three, that's going to be tough to win," Head Coach Lovie Smith said.
Six of Cleveland's 13 possessions ended in a punt. After punting to end their first drive, the Browns fumbled it away on their next possession, threw an interception on the following drive, and were then stuffed for a safety. The Texans led 5-0 at that point. They forced two more punts in the first half, and the Browns' final possession before the intermission came as time ran out in the second quarter.
Cleveland's second half offensive possessions consisted of three more punts, a pair of field goal drives and a victory formation.
"Just looking at the entire game defensively, I thought the guys put together six good quarters of defensive football," Smith said, referring to the second half of the Miami loss, combined with Sunday's contest versus Cleveland. "Today, to keep them out of the end zone, of course, was big."
Rookie Jalen Pitre led the defense with 16 tackles, and also picked off a Deshaun Watson pass in the first quarter. He and the pass defense held Watson to a 12-of-22 passing performance for 131 yards and the interception. But Pitre said the defense could've still done a little more to help ensure a victory.
"We've just got to make a couple more plays to eventually get that win," Pitre said. "But there are some good things we can build on, but overall we've just got to make more plays."
Fellow defensive back Jonathan Owens logged five tackles on Sunday. The defense came up with a pair of takeaways, limited Watson to a 53.4 passer rating, and held Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb to 80 rushing yards.
"Lovie had a great defensive plan for us," Owens said. "We came out and tried to play hard. Play fast, physical, and just limit their offense as much as we could."
The Texas fell to 1-10-1 with the defeat and will face the Cowboys next Sunday at noon in Arlington.