An 11-win season ended in the blink of an eye as the Cleveland Browns fell to the Houston Texans, 45-14 in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. It was a disappointing way to end their season but there's reason for hope since they made this run with several backups playing key roles.
Heading into the game, Cleveland knew two flaws could hurt their chances. One was their penchant for turnovers — they were No. 1 in the NFL in giving the ball away. The second was a stellar defense that doesn't travel well. Just 3-5 on the road during the regular season, their defense had a hard time making plays away from Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Each of those issues were front and center on Saturday. Houston had several big plays on offense and Joe Flacco threw two pick-sixes. A look at how such flaws can kill a playoff run is just one of the stories in our news round-up.
Cleveland Browns news
‘Whatever your flaws are the playoffs will exacerbate them’: What they said after Browns blowout loss in Houston — Tim Bielik, Cleveland.com
“What did I say about turnovers come playoff time. It’s what concerned me most about the Browns. Flacco put up huge #s but he turned it over a bunch. Whatever your flaws are the playoffs will exacerbate them,” Shannon Sharpe of Fox Sports posted.
Bielik has a collection of tweets from the Browns loss and while most praised them for getting as far as they did, there are those like this one from Shannon Sharpe. Heading into this game, the one concern was whether or not the offense could protect the ball. That's far from the only reason they lost but the back-to-back pick-sixes ensured there would be no comeback win.
By the Numbers: Browns defense struggled in limiting Texans in the pass game — Doc Louallen, ClevelandBrowns.com
"The Texans defense tackled the Browns offensive players eleven times for a loss of yards on Saturday. The Browns offense went 7 for 15 on long third downs due to negative yardage from the Texans defense."
The negative plays were a killer for Cleveland's offense but on the other side, their defense ended with no sacks and no turnovers. Houston played a cleaner game which shouldn't be too surprising since they had just gotten healthy while the Browns were not only playing a lot of backups but it was clear Amari Cooper wasn't 100 percent. Plus, they lost James Hudson, meaning they were down to OT6 on the right side.
4 Browns who deserve the blame for blowout loss in playoffs — DPD
It's tough to be too hard on the Browns since this was such a fun season. Still, they were favored heading into this one and somehow lost 45-14. With that happening, here are the four Browns who deserve the most blame for the defeat.
New angle shows how bad officials hosed Browns on missed pass interference — DPD
With the score getting out of hand, this one might not have mattered. Even so, the officials missed one of the more obvious pass interference calls of the year. In this angle, the ref watches as David Njoku gets tackled before the pass arrives but does nothing about it.