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The Houston Texans (6-3) enjoyed a comfortable 30-12 victory over the visiting Cleveland Browns (3-5) at Reliant Stadium. The win improves what is already the Texans’ best start to a season in franchise history, and Head Coach Gary Kubiak will be pleased with what he saw from his side, not least from rookie linebacker Brooks Reed, who collected two sacks and generally looked solid in defense, helping the keep the Browns to just 172 yards.
With Cleveland only managing to put up 107 points in their opening seven games, their offense was always likely to struggle, especially against Houston, who have the third best defense in the NFL, allowing just 286.8 ypg. However, with the Browns currently fifth in the yards allowed table, and dangerous wide receiver Andre Johnson still sidelined with injury, Defensive Coordinator Dick Jauron will be left wondering what happened to his side.
The Texans put themselves into a commanding position in the first quarter, registering two touchdowns, the first a 27-yard rush from Ben Tate, and the second was a darting run from quarterback Matt Schaub from two yards out. Arian Foster compounded Cleveland’s problems when he rushed for 19 yards and a touchdown in the second quarter, extending Houston’s lead.
With just under five minutes left to play, Colt McCoy sparked Cleveland’s fans hopes of a comeback, when he found Josh Cribbs for a two-yard touchdown pass, but it proved too little too late for the Browns, who had looked second best all game long.
The game was won on the ground, with Foster recording 124 yards on 19 carries, and Tate racking up 115 yards on just 12 carries. Stripped of both Peyton Hillis and Montario Hardesty, the Browns could not make a similar impact on the ground, with running back Chris Ogbonnaya only managing to rush for 28 yards from his 13 attempts.
Cleveland, lacking an effective running option, turned to the passing game. With Mohamed Massquoi out for a second consecutive game, McCoy targeted Cribbs consistently. Although Cribbs did grab a touchdown pass to help his team, the wide receiver could only average ten yards per reception, and rarely troubled an in-control Houston defense.
Browns Head Coach Pat Shurmur will be hoping that both Hillis and Massaquoi can return to full training this week, as their meagre haul of 12 points just goes to highlight how toothless the Browns offense has looked of late.
The Browns will look to pick themselves up in Week 10 when they face the St Louis Rams at home, one of the few teams to have actually scored less points than the Browns prior to the Week Nine games. Meanwhile, the Texans will visit the inconsistent Buccaneers as they attempt to further cement their place at the top of the AFC South.
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