Rapid Reaction: Texans fall 10-7 in Cleveland after weather delay

The Houston Texans fell, 10-7, to the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.

The game's kickoff was delayed 30 minutes because of storms in the Cleveland area.

"The conditions were such that they had to send both teams in before the game even started," interim head coach Romeo Crennel said. "So that kind of says something there. And then when we came back, it wasn't sleeting and hailing, but the wind was a factor for both teams."

Duke Johnson returned to Cleveland, where he played his first four NFL seasons, and rushed for 54 yards on 14 carries.

Deshaun Watson completed 20-of-30 passes for 163 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions and a 91.4 passer rating. Watson also added 36 yards rushing on eight carries. Randall Cobb led the team with 41 receiving yards on three receptions. Tight end Pharaoh Brown, who started his 2020 season with the Browns, scored Houston's only touchdown of the game.

"A couple of times the ball was right there, but the wind took it a certain ways and directed it," Watson said. "So it was tough. It was tough on both sides. So that's why, you know, they did a lot of bootlegs, draw up different screens like that. But, you know, same with us. So we had to pick our spots, try to throw it downfield because that's what we wanted to do. It's kind of hard with a heavy wind, but we can't make any excuses. We didn't capitalize, we didn't connect and just came up short."

Houston's defense held Nick Chubb to just 57 yards through three quarters, but he erupted in the fourth quarter and finished the day with 126 yards on 19 carries, one of which was a touchdown.

"We didn't do as well in the second half against their run," Crennel said. "In the first half, we slowed them down and really we stopped them in the first half. Then in the second half, we started getting out of position. I think guys started to try to make plays, against the running backs instead of staying in their gap and winning their position. And so that's part of consistency. If you're a consistent team, guys do what they're supposed to do all the time, the majority of the time and we didn't do that."

Baker Mayfield was 12-of-20 for 132 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 79.6 passer rating. Veteran defensive lineman Corey Liuget, elevated to the active roster on Saturday, finished with a sack on Mayfield.

The Browns took a 3-0 lead after the opening drive. The Texans defense forced four punts and one turnover on downs, keeping the Browns from scoring until early in the fourth quarter.

Ka'imi Fairbairn lined up for a 48-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter, but instead punted it 26 yards to pin the Browns deep in their territory. Cleveland started back-to-back drives in the second quarter from its own four-yard line.

"Well, that was into the wind, I knew that a field goal would be rough, tough at that one," Crennel said. "And so we popped up the punt, we call it a pop punt, by the field goal kicker. And he did a nice job. I think he put it inside the five on that one. And so in a game like today, when the weather is a factor and you have great field position, you can play for field position and that can help you."

The Texans were in field goal territory again late in the third quarter after three third-down conversions on the drive, a first-down run by Johnson and two from Watson.

Fairbairn's 46-yard field goal was no good and the Browns held onto their 3-0 lead with 3:37 left in the third quarter.

On the next possession, the Browns found the endzone first. After three consecutive carries, Chubb scored on a nine-yard touchdown to give Cleveland a 10-0 lead with 13:36 left in the game.

Watson converted back-to-back first-down completions to Cobb. On third-and-6, Watson extended the drive with a 29-yard pass to Cobb. Two plays later, he found Cobb again for a 10-yard catch plus an extra 15 yards from an unnecessary roughness call on the Browns. On the next play, Watson finished off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Brown.

The Texans trailed 10-7 with 5:04 left in the game, but would not get the ball back again. The Browns moved the ball down the field, but a big 59-yard run by Chubb on third down would seal the game. Chubb ran out of bounds at the one-yard line and Cleveland finished the game in victory formation to run out the clock.

Houston falls to 2-7 on the season and will host the New England Patriots in Week 11.

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