Week 16 instant reactions: Browns rout Texans as Amari Cooper explodes

Amari Cooper recorded 252 yards in a Week 16 blowout win for the Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns, Amari Cooper
Cleveland Browns, Amari Cooper / Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Another week, another win for the Cleveland Browns. On the road against the Houston Texans, the Browns put on an offensive show as they routed the home team 36-22. Joe Flacco had another 300-yard day with multiple touchdowns but it was Amari Cooper who had the best outing.

On the verge of franchise history, Cleveland wasted no time getting Cooper involved. Following an impressive 36-yard kick return from Pierre Strong, the Browns took their first snap of the game at their own 41. Their next snap, came from the Houston six after Cooper hauled in a 53-yard reception off a play-action pass from Joe Flacco.

Cooper's catch put him over 1,000 yards on the season, the second year in a row he's accomplished that. While that might not be foreign to Cooper, it is to the Browns. He's the first player in franchise history to ever do so in back-to-back campaigns — plus the only wideout to have two seasons over that mark.

Cleveland was able to cap off the drive with a four-yard touchdown from Jerome Ford, who ran it in on third down out of the Wildcat. Dustin Hopkins came in and drilled the extra point, which put him just five points from a record of his own. Hopkins entered this one just six points behind Jim Brown who set the team record back in 1958.

Cooper wasn't done there either. He caught a 22-yard pass later in the first half but then scored on a deep ball early in the second quarter. This time, he even fought through a pass interference call to haul in a 75-yard touchdown, putting the Browns up 14-0.

Cleveland's special teams then had one of their first gaffes of the season when they allowed Dameon Pierce to run the ensuing kickoff back 98 yards for a touchdown. This didn't phase the Browns who kept playing well on defense and before long, Flacco threw another touchdown, this time hitting David Njoku from 21 yards out.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson then came in and ran the ball in for two points but this wasn't a strategy for more points. Instead, the Browns had to go without Dustin Hopkins who injured his left hamstring on his last kick. Hopefully, he will be able to return next week, especially knowing he's so close to setting another team record.

The injury to Hopkins came up huge at the end of the half as well. Flacco threw a pick but the Browns got it right back when Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah intercepted a ball that was batted by Shelby Harris. Cleveland had the ball at the Houston 18 but with no time outs and just five seconds to play, they had to throw a desperation pass into the end zone, rather than attempt a kick. That was also intercepted, keeping it a 22-7 game entering the half.

Amari Cooper continues to ball out for the Browns

The connection Joe Flacco and Amari Cooper have built is impressive, especially considering the short time they've been together. On Sunday, they took their partnership to another level when Cooper went over 200 yards. He finished with 265 yards (which is also a team record) and two touchdowns (as well as a two-point conversion), reminding everyone he's an elite play-maker when the quarterback can get him the ball.

His deep plays will be all over the highlight-reels but his best play on Sunday was a 13-yard reception late in the third quarter. Facing a fourth-and-eight, Flacco threw a desperation pass to Cooper while being hit and the wideout caught the ball on the sideline — barely getting his toes down.

That kept the drive alive and Cooper capped it off with his second touchdown of the day. This time, he hauled one in from seven yards out, which made it a 28-7 lead for the Browns. For Flacco, this was his third touchdown, again proving how deadly this offense can be with an accurate passer.

The Browns will now have a quick turnaround since they'll host the New York Jets in Week 17 on Thursday Night Football. After the win on Christmas Eve, Cleveland will be going for their 11th win against New York and will be full of confidence in their home finale.

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