This defense played well enough to win but that was only one third of the story.
The bright spot was certainly holding the Browns' offense to zero touchdowns and really only one field goal drive. Deshaun Watson was coming off a 700-day absence and the Texans were able to capitalize on the rust and make plays on that side of the ball.
The run defense numbers don't look great, but look at the point total. The defense was able to add points on the Texans side of the ledger with a safety on a Nick Chubb stuff credited to Roy Lopez. Earlier, Jalen Pitre snared his third pick of the year in Watson's only red zone appearance.
Special teams have been solid all year, but the Texans sprung a big leak in the first half when they allowed a punt return for a touchdown. There was also a fumble on a Houston punt return in the 4th quarter that led to a field goal.
Dameon Pierce and his blockers responded after two weeks of minimal production with a 73-yard afternoon. Pierce went for 4.1 yards per carry, but overall, the turnover train started rolling in the wrong direction from the get-go.
Kyle Allen threw a weird pick that caromed off Teagan Quitoriano on the first play from scrimmage. If that was the only giveaway, things might have been ok. But a fumble on a quarterback sneak from the Houston one was immediately returned for a score by Denzel Ward in the third quarter. This was after the defense came up with a stop on the Browns' opening second half possession.
The decisive blow for the Browns was a pick-6 off a deflected ball that Tony Fields ran into the endzone in the 4th quarter.
Houston scored a late touchdown, its only of the day, inside the final two minutes. It was nice to see Nico Collins get his second scoring catch of the year.
Moving the ball has been challenging enough but the turnover margin is sliding in the wrong direction at a bad time of year. The Cowboys are up next, in Arlington, then the Chiefs at home.