It was a game the Browns had to have for a thousand reasons, and they got it done. But it wasn't easy or pretty. Alas, a win is a win and they are now 5-7 and technically still alive for a playoff spot. But in fairness, the way they played, the Texans were the ONLY NFL team they would have beaten Sunday. The Texans are simply awful, maybe one of the worst teams I've seen in many years - maybe since us a few years ago.
When you play a team that bad and have to rely on a special teams TD, two defensive TD's to win and your offense did NOT score any points, it's concerning. To make it worse, they only threatened so score a TD once and tossed an INT in the end zone. But they did win and it's on to Cincy for a season defining game with the Bengals. Win this one and you're still breathing. Lose it, and it's curtains for a post season possibility. The Ravens found a way to win yesterday after their QB got hurt, and that hurt the Browns badly, as did Cincy's BIG win over Kansas City.
I was watching the game with you, seeing the numbers and stats, it became even more clear to me just how bad the Texans really are. Sunday was the Texans Superbowl, and I'll give them credit. They did NOT allow the full strength Browns to score an offensive TD. Nick Chubb ran for a paltry 70 yards against the NFL's worst defense against the run. They just don't have the talent to compete with the Browns, or any other NFL team. You can't even say the Browns defense played well, the Texans are not at all a fair measuring stick.
The Browns rolled out their brand new QB, fresh off an 11 game suspension and an NFL layoff of 700 days. It's not fair to analyze him this week. Not many of us would be very sharp at our jobs after not doing it for two years out of disgrace in your former employers building. But being fair, he will not face any team the rest of the way as bad as the Texans. You have a week to tune it up because Joe Burrow and the Bengals will not be near as charitable as the Texans. They would love to pound the Browns for 20 reasons.
One good sign was Stefanski didn't coach like it was the Beer League. He didn't make things even more scary by making silly in game decisions. But this is true - He KNEW a loss Sunday (and it clearly could have happened) may have spelled the beginning of the end for him. Can you imagine walking into the owners office today, whose football future you traded away for a quarter of a billion dollar QB (who played), to explain losing to THAT team? The sheer crushing national and social media embarrassment alone may have been too much for the owner to deal with, let alone his football reality. I have no doubt the search would have begun today. The Texans bailed him out.
Should be noted, two of the leagues biggest "analytics" teams are the Browns and the Chargers. Two teams loaded with talent for the most part, and they are a combined 11-13, and both now looking from the outside in for the post season. Somehow the Steelers have the same record as the Browns right now. Funny, 6 months ago many were talking how the Steelers were in rebuild mode and would stink, and the Browns were ready for a deep playoff run. There is still room for good football common sense in the NFL. Ask Mike Tomlin.
The Browns have it right in front of them, the Bengals and the Ravens the next two weeks, and both games are must win - period. Even through it all, the Browns have not played themselves all the way out of it yet. But they better take a different game to Cincy than they took to Texas Sunday.