The Texans went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the AFC but ultimately came up short in a 31-21 loss at Cleveland.
Playing on the road for the first time this season, Houston produced a stop on the first possession of the game but a muffed punt gave the Browns the ball at the Houston 35-yard line. Four plays later, Cleveland was in the end zone.
The Texans bounced back big, getting two takeaways on a Justin Reid forced fumble (recovered by Christian Kirksey) and a Reid pick. Tyrod Taylor tied the game after the initial Browns score with a TD pass to Phillip Lindsay. Later, you could hear a pin drop as he quieted the crowd with a 15-yard touchdown run that gave Houston the lead at 14-7. Taylor went to the injury tent after that, returned for one series and didn't play in the second half.
After Houston grabbed the lead, the Cleveland offense went to work with its ground attack and found the end zone on a Baker Mayfield five-yard TD run. It didn't seem like a big deal at the time when the Texans didn't answer with little time left in the half. But that was the last we'd see of the starting quarterback.
Rookie Davis Mills took over to begin the third quarter and the offense went three-and-out. The Browns took the ball and marched into the end zone to retake the lead. Then, with poor field position, the Texans couldn't move the ball and ended the series with a pick. At this point, the game could've have been blown wide open but the defense held, forcing a field goal.
Then the offense went to work. Some key runs and a Mills four of six passing performance paved the way to the end zone. Mills found Brandin Cooks with a short touchdown pass to cut the lead to three. It was anyone's game.
The Cleveland ground game went into high gear on the ensuing drive. Nick Chubb, who ran for 95 yards, found a hole on a 24-yard touchdown dash to make it a ten point margin and put the Texans in a hole they didn't climb out of.
Houston got into field goal range with a chance to go to a seven-point deficit and try an onside kick but a missed field goal ended the threat.
It wasn't a pretty game with too many penalties, turnovers and injuries for David Culley's formula to work. But the Texans hung in there on a day full of adversity and stayed well within striking distance for the bulk of the afternoon.
There's no time to reflect. A 2-0 Carolina team is visiting on Thursday and the Texans need to deal with injuries and corrections to put together a winning recipe in four days.
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.