The Houston Texans fell, 31-21, to the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday.
"We just got to play better," Head Coach David Culley said. "We didn't play Texan football today. We turned it over twice, had one in the kicking game which got us behind early but we overcame that. We've just got to become more consistent and play the kind of football we know we got to play. We didn't play complementary football today. Offensively, defensively or special teams."
An impressive first half included a near-flawless performance by Tyrod Taylor and two defensive takeaways, and the score tied at 14-14. However, penalties and the loss of Taylor due to a hamstring injury were ultimately too much to overcome in the second half.
Taylor was ruled out and did not return to the game after halftime after a strong start for the Texans. The starting QB threw 10 straight completions to start the game, and ultimately went 10-for-11 for 125 yards, a touchdown and a 144.3 passer rating. Taylor also rushed for a 15-yard score.
Davis Mills started the second half at quarterback, and completed 8-of-19 passes for 102 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in his NFL debut. WR Brandin Cooks caught a team-high nine passes for 78 yards and a touchdown.
"Today was a good lesson for him and good experience for him to get, especially in this kind of ballgame, because if we'd made some plays there at the end, we would have had a chance to be in a position to win the football game and part of that was because of him," Culley said.
The Texans also lost WRs Danny Amendola, Nico Collins and DB Justin Reid to injuries in the game while getting flagged for nine penalties for 78 yards.
Baker Mayfield completed 19-of-21 for 213 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. Mayfield also rushed for 10 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. Houston's defense forced two takeaways (one interception, one fumble recovery) and recorded 2.0 sacks. Houston has forced five turnovers through two games. LB Kamu Grugier-Hill led the defense with nine tackles (six solo), a sack, three tackles for loss, and one forced fumble. Reid had four tackles (four solo), an interception, a pass defensed, and forced a fumble before leaving the game with a knee injury.
"I think everyone's just kind of doing their job, not trying to do too much," Hill said. "I think at the end of the day, we got to tackle better. I don't know, I felt encouraged. I mean, you can feel it in this team. We got something special. We got to fix some things, but I know we're gonna bounce back."
The Texans defense stopped the Browns offense on the opening drive. Jacob Martin sacked Baker Mayfield on third down, but Cleveland got another shot after a muffed punt return by Andre Roberts. The Browns recovered at the Houston 35-yard line. Andy Janovich scored on a one-yard touchdown run after just four plays, and the Browns took an early 7-0 lead.
On offense, Taylor led an 8-play, 64-yard Texans scoring drive that ended in a touchdown. After completing passes to Collins, Cooks and Chris Conley, Taylor threw a screen pass to Phillip Lindsay for a 22-yard scoring play.
The Texans defense forced takeaways on back-to-back Browns possessions and came away with seven points. Reid hit Donovan People-Jones to knock the ball out of the receiver's hands. LB Christian Kirksey recovered the fumble. On the next Browns possession, Reid intercepted Mayfield's pass and returned it 24 yards to the Cleveland 24-yard line. Six plays later, Taylor ran 15 yards along the right sideline for a score.
The Texans took a 14-7 lead over the Browns with 7:06 left in the second quarter.
Mayfield and the Browns responded with a five-yard touchdown on the next drive. The Browns tied the game 14-14 with 1:14 left in the second quarter.
Taylor played one more drive before halftime but did not return in the third quarter.
The Browns scored 10 unanswered points in the third quarter. Mills threw an interception on a pass intended for Roberts. After holding the Browns to a field goal, the Texans trailed 24-14.
On the next drive, Mills bounced back with his first touchdown pass, a two-yard score to Brandin Cooks. Earlier on the drive, a defensive pass interference call against Cleveland's Greg Newsome on Cooks extended the drive on third-and-6. Houston closed in on the Browns, down 24-21 after a 16-play, 75-yard scoring drive that lasted 8:08.
The Browns pulled away with a 26-yard touchdown run by Nick Chubb, who finished with 11 carries for 95 yards and the score.
The Texans fall to 1-1 on the season and will next play at home against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football.
The Texans will host the Carolina Panthers on Thursday Night Football. Kickoff is set for 7:20 p.m. CT on NBC, NFL Network and SportsRadio 610. Click here for tickets.
Check out the top photos live as the Houston Texans take on the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 of the 2021 NFL Season.