The Cleveland Browns began a new era in their Week 13 matchup against the Houston Texans. It was the first game that Deshaun Watson was starting for the Browns after they made a blockbuster trade in the offseason, with the Texans, for their new franchise quarterback.
After serving his 11-game suspension to start this season and sitting out the entire 2021 campaign, it was no surprise that Watson showed some rust against his old team. The last time that he played in a game was January 3rd, 2021 so it will take some time for him to get his rhythm back and build up chemistry with his new teammates.
In his debut, Watson completed only 12-of-22 passes for 131 yards, throwing one interception. He also added 21 rushing yards on seven attempts as the Browns eased him back into things. Luckily they didn’t need much more from him as the defense and special teams were the star of the afternoon.
The Browns won the game 27-14, but how they did it was certainly unique. Cleveland scored three touchdowns in the game, but none of them were scored by Watson and the offense. The most that they could muster was two Cade York field goals.
According to NFL on CBS, the 27 points that the Browns scored is the most by a team without scoring an offensive touchdown since 1999.
Wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones scored a touchdown, but it was on a 76-yard punt return to get the scoring started for Cleveland, who were trailing 5-0 at the time. Early in the third quarter, cornerback Denzel Ward returned a Kyle Allen fumble for a four-yard touchdown. The final touchdown of the game for the Browns came courtesy of linebacker Tony Fields II who had a 14-yard interception return.
It was a truly dominant performance by the Browns’ defense, taking full advantage of the mess that is the Texans’ offense. Cleveland will certainly need the defense to continue playing at a high level if they are to climb back into the playoff picture in the AFC as they have massive games against the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens in the next two weeks.