The Houston Texans fell, 27-14, to the Cleveland Browns during Sunday's game at NRG Stadium. Despite preventing Deshaun Watson and the Browns from scoring an offensive touchdown and forcing two takeaways, the Texans were unable to overcome costly turnovers that led to 21 points scored by Cleveland.
"You know, one statistic that kind of tells the story of a game is the turnover ratio," Head Coach Lovie Smith said. "Whenever you talk about non-offensive touchdowns, you give up three. That's going to be tough to win. So offensively got to protect the ball better. We had some opportunities down in the red zone. Weren't able to cash in."
In his first action following an 11-game suspension, Watson completed 12-of-22 passes for 131 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and a 53.4 passer rating.
"They did a good job of trying to keep me off rhythm, keep me in the pocket," Watson said. "A lot of gains up front, a lot of switching up different coverages. It's a little bit different than what they showed on film as a consistent basis. Lovie did a good job. Talking with some players after the game, that's what they wanted to do is try to mix it up a little bit and see what I can handle and see what they can do."
Rookie Jalen Pitre picked up his third interception of the season and finished with a team-high 16 tackles (nine solo) and one pass defensed.
"I think the defense played well throughout" Smith said. "Whenever you can keep an NFL offense out of the end zone, that's big, especially with the amount of firepower we thought they had. So like a lot of the things, we haven't taken the ball those two take-aways we were able to get, of course, helped a lot, but their defense outplayed our defense today."
The Texans forced both takeaways before halftime, but turned the ball over three times in the second half that led to two defensive touchdowns and a punt return for a score.
In his second start, QB Kyle Allen completed 20-of-39 passes for 201 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Dameon Pierce finished with 18 carries for 73 yards rushing. Brevin Jordan caught a team-high four passes for 46 yards while Nico Collins caught a touchdown pass. Ka'imi Fairbairn was 2-of-2 from 44 and 35 yards.
"The defense played incredible today," Allen said. "We just wish we could have picked them up more times. With the turnovers they had in the first half to only come out with -- I don't remember if we had five or eight points going into half, but to only have that many points going into the half, we have to do better than that."
The Texans opening drive ended in a turnover when Allen's pass to Teagan Quitoriano was dropped and picked off by Cleveland, but the defense forced a three-and-out on Watson's opening series.
Houston's defense kept the heat on Watson and the offense, forcing a pair of takeaways (fumble recovery, interception) and a safety on the next three Cleveland possessions to take a 5-0 lead early in the second quarter. Roy Lopez tackled RB Nick Chubb in the endzone for the safety.
With four minutes left in the first half, Cleveland's special teams scored the first touchdown of the game. Donovan Peoples-Jones returned Cameron Johnston's 60-yard punt 76 yards for a score to give the Browns a 7-5 lead at halftime.
Cleveland's defense scored 14 points in the second half. Allen's fumble at the Houston one-yard line resulted in CB Denzel Ward scooping up the ball for a touchdown.
"Just the QB sneak, we were just trying to get the ball off the goal line," Allen said. "And it's just one of those things that the running backs work on all the time. You just have to hold it all the way to the ground. I was right next to the ground and went to brace myself for the fall and hit it and punched it out."
Early in the fourth quarter, Allen's screen pass, intended for Dare Ogunbowale, was picked off by LB Tony Fields II and returned 16 yards for another defensive touchdown. Cleveland pulled away with a 24-8 lead with 9:30 left in the game.
Desmond King fumbled after a hit on his fourth-quarter punt return. The Browns took over at the Houston 32-yard line but settled for a field goal and extended their lead, up 27-8.
Houston's offense scored their lone touchdown of the day with under two minutes left in the game. Allen connected with Nico Collins on a six-yard touchdown pass to cap off a seven-play, 75-yard drive.
With the loss, the Texans fall to 1-10-1 on the season and will next travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys in Week 14.
Browse photos from the Texans, Browns Week 13 matchup.