(Photo : Tim Warner/Getty Images) HOUSTON, TEXAS – JC.J. Stroud (#7) of the Houston Texans shakes fingers with Denzel Ward (#21) of the Cleveland Browns after the AFC Wild Card Playoffs at NRG Stadium towards the Cleveland Browns on January 13, 2024 in Houston, Texas.
The Houston Texans proceed their Cinderella run within the 2023 season after blowing out the Cleveland Browns of their Wild Card spherical matchup.
The Texans vs Browns wildcard recreation was dubbed the “feel good” showdown as the 2 began the season because the low-tier dwellers who proved naysayers fallacious. They even have quarterbacks who function inspiration as underdogs who overcame the chances.
The Browns got here to the match as slight favorites (-2.00) regardless of the sport being performed in Houston.
Coach DeMeco Ryans simply would not let down the supporters at residence. They didn’t simply cowl the -2 odds. They convincingly defeated their guests and proved that they belong on this stage even when they’re nonetheless within the rebuilding part.
How did they handle to drag off the win?
There are many factors-ones you see on the stat sheet and different intangibles-but these stand out.
1. Stinging protection within the second half
Browns quarterback Joe Flacco is without doubt one of the notable feel-good tales on this matchup. Play-calling at 38, he had the nation on alert after main his workforce to 4 straight wins as a mid-season signing.
However, his story ended by the hands of the Texans as he tossed pick-sixes on back-to-back possessions within the third quarter.
But that recreation was not misplaced attributable to these performs. The Browns’ protection had them on clamps because the kickoff.
The hosts should have remembered what the Browns did to them of their Week 16 assembly.
Cornerbacks Derek Stingley Jr., Steven Nelson, and linebacker Christian Harris teamed as much as paralyze the Browns offense led by Flacco and Amaric Cooper. Nelson and Harris tallied pick-sixes to place the sport out of attain by the third quarter.
2. CJ Stroud is a star
The tremendous rookie continues his sensational season after recording 16 of 21 passes for 274 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interception.
Browns’ defensive finish Myles Garrett put it greatest on how Stroud dismantled their recreation plan.
“He got the ball out on time…mostly just quicks and being given enough time to get it out. He wasn’t too flustered getting to his spots, being able to slip through and find the gap for him to throw.”
In quick, Stroud was too composed to be rattled by a greater protection, a workforce that restricted them to simply 22 factors of their first assembly. The rookie missed that recreation.
The playoffs are the place males are separated from the boys. This recreation confirmed Stroud coming of age early.
Coach Ryans solely had excessive praises for Stroud, saying, “he has the shoulders to carry that weight.”
3. Efficient haymaker offense
The Texans’ offense stored the Browns protection guessing. The workforce had a minimum of six performs that went a minimum of 21 yards.
Stroud credited offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik for devising numerous assaults for the sport.
Among those who stood out are Devin Singletary’s 19-yard landing and the connection between Stroud and Nico Collins that led to a 15-yard landing cross.
The better part about this offense is that it was environment friendly, with the workforce not permitting any sacks. Collins was probably the most environment friendly as he recorded a game-high 96 yards by solely making six catches.
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