The Browns were looking to put together their first three-game winning streak since in four years, but came up short after falling behind 23-0 during a first half that was reminiscent of the Hue Jackson era.
While it was a disappointing day, the loss was not necessarily a discouraging one. At the risk of sounding as if we are in search of moral victories, there are some positives to take from the game.
The biggest one is how the team responded in the second half. There have been numerous times in the past where a 23-0 halftime deficit would have turned into a 43-3 final score. But against the Texans, the Browns kept plugging away, didn’t get overly desperate, the offense stopped with the turnovers, quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for 351 yards, and the defense limited the Texans to just two field goals.
also, s/o to twitter dude who insisted that mayfield threw for 351 yards in the second half b/c aLL thE teXanS diD was plAy PreVenT DeFense— Doug Farrar (@NFL_DougFarrar) December 3, 2018
Jarvis Landry finally had a meaningful game, surpassing 100 receiving yards for just the second time this season and the first since the Week 3 game against the New York Jets. Fellow wide receiver Antonio Callaway also had his highest receiving yard total of the year with 84 yards, along with a 76-yard touchdown reception that was negated by a penalty. (We’re trying to stay positive here, so let’s not dwell on Callaway’s fumble at the one-yard-line after a 71-yard catch-and run.)
Myles Garrett had 1.5 of the Browns four sacks on the day, bringing him to 11.5 on the season, the name number as Houston’s J.J. Watt. Those 11.5 sacks are the fourth-most in franchise history, tying him with Michael Dean Perry. Garrett now has 18.5 career sacks, tying him with Reggie Camp for the most by a Cleveland player in their first two seasons.
Minor addendum to this: Mayfield became 1st QB to throw for 350+ in a half (no OT) since Tom Brady had 367 in 2nd half on Dec. 16, 2012.— Andrew Gribble (@Andrew_Gribble) December 3, 2018
Speaking of sacks, there was some fear heading into the game that Watt and fellow defensive end Jadeveon Clowney would have a big day against Cleveland’s starting tackle duo of Chris Hubbard and Greg Robinson. That wasn’t the case, however, as the Browns offensive line did not give up a sack for the third consecutive game — the first time that has happened since the 1988 season.
Whether the line is playing better, or offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens is calling plays that limit Mayfield’s exposure, something is working and that is a very good thing.
At the end of the day a loss is still a loss. The Browns clearly could have played better — the four turnovers in the first half simply cannot happen — but that doesn’t mean that Sunday’s game undid the positives from the previous few weeks.
The Browns are slowly evolving into a competent NFL team, which means that a loss may simply be nothing more than a loss.