Donovan Peoples-Jones punt return touchdown jumpstarted Browns in Week 13
Donovan Peoples-Jones sparked the Browns late in the first half with a spectacular punt return for the touchdown that helped lead to the win against Texans
For most of the first half, one might have thought it was a baseball game if you were just following the Cleveland Browns box score against the Houston Texans. Cleveland was losing 5-0 and nothing was going very well for them. Deshaun Watson was struggling in his debut with his new franchise and the offense overall looked off.
The Browns defense, however, was playing well and forced the Texans into a three-and-out series late in the first half which resulted in Houston punting the ball away. That’s when the tides turned.
Donovan Peoples-Jones caught the punt at the 24-yard line, made a cut or two, and then sprinted down the sideline for a 76-yard touchdown. It changed the momentum as Cleveland now had the lead despite the tough start.
The return from DPJ was a big moment in the victory and it added to an already impressive season the third-year pro is putting together.
To begin with, the punt return was the first in Browns history since 2015. Travis Benjamin was the last player to run a punt return back for a touchdown in a Cleveland uniform.
That’s a drought of 121 games. The Browns have a history of having some great punt returners including Josh Cribbs and Eric Metcalf, so it was great to see a current player finally break one for the score. And it shouldn’t be a fluke as last week, DPJ almost had a return for another touchdown against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but just got tripped up enough from preventing the touchdown then.
Due to his role as the No. 2 wide receiver, the Browns had been trying to use different players to field punts but none of them have had that feel for the role that has made DPJ such a legitimate threat. Now, with his first run back for a touchdown, look for him to have the spot locked down.
As for his primary job, DPJ continues to contribute there as well. Against the Texans, he caught three passes for 44 yards. He’s now has 45 receptions for 637 yards. He’s already surpassed his career high of 597 yards from a year ago, with five more regular season games to go.
Cleveland now heads to the Cincinnati where they face the Bengals next week. It’s a place that the former Michigan Wolverine knows well, and has had success. In his rookie season, DPJ caught the game-winner in the closing seconds to pull off a stunning victory. He seems to be making a name for himself when it comes to making big plays. He’s must watch tv and that’s a great thing to see as Browns fans.