Texans play counts against the Browns
The offensive line played their best game of the season and took every single snap, as did quarterback Ryan Mallett. Mallett was not sacked and the Browns were credited with just two quarterback hits. Houston set a franchise record for rushing attempts in a game with 54. It was the tenth time in Texans history the team has rushed for at least 200 yards (213) and the second time this season.
As usual, DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson hardly left the field. Hopkins played 82 of 86 (95%) snaps, while Johnson played 79 of 86 (92%). Damaris Johnson had his most touches of the season with one rushing attempt and five receptions. He was targeted eight times, a season high and played 55 (64%) snaps. Keshawn Martin played just 14 snaps.
Garrett Graham was only targeted twice, but it came on consecutive plays just before the end of the first half and his two catches over the middle on those two plays closed out a touchdown drive that put the team up 14-7. He played 71 (83%) snaps, with C.J. Fiedorowicz getting 31 (36%) and Ryan Griffin getting three (3%) of the snaps. J.J. Watt had one snap, a productive one that resulted in a two yard touchdown reception.
With Arian Foster inactive, rookie Alfred Blue and Jonathan Grimes handled the entire load and it was a huge load. On 58 (67%) snaps, Blue set a franchise record with 36 carries and tied the team rookie record with 156 yards. Grimes also carried 13 time for 54 yards on his 27 snaps. Fullback Jay Prosch had nine snaps.
As usual Watt got the most work with 70 (91%) of the snaps and he produced a sack, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and three tackles for loss. Jared Crick nearly had his first interception of the season and had 48 (62%) of the snaps. Nose tackle Ryan Pickett had 29 (38%) snaps, while Jerrell Powe had 17 (22%), a common split over recent weeks. Tim Jamison played 27 (35%) snaps and rookie Jeoffrey Pagan played 13 (17%) snaps.
Brian Cushing returned to the field after missing the last three games with a sore knee and he looked good for the first time this season. He played 59 (77%) of the snaps, a much higher number than head coach Bill O’Brien said he expected for Cushing. He finished second on the team in tackles with six, had two crushing hits on Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer and forced a fumble from running back Isaiah Crowell that Watt recovered.
Akeem Dent (45, 58%) and Mike Mohammed (23, 30%) took the remaining snaps for the inside linebackers and each produced their most impactful game of the season. Dent filled up the stat sheet with five tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and a quarterback hit. Mohammed led the team with three passes defensed and near the end of the game, he intercepted a pass intended for Austin that he bobbled and Mohammed snatched out of the air. He also had a tackle for loss. Justin Tuggle played only special teams on Sunday.
Outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus (54 snaps, 70%) and Brooks Reed (50 snaps, 65%) took the majority of the snaps. Jadeveon Clowney (39 snaps, 51%) got his most extensive work of the season in his return and had two tackles and a tackle for loss. John Simon had six snaps.
A.J. Bouye started for Kareem Jackson and was the only defensive player to play all 77 snaps. As he said after the game, there was some good and some bad as he was targeted all afternoon long and led the team in tackles with nine. Jonathan Joseph, who practiced all week after clearing the concussion protocol took just four snaps off staying on the field for 73 of 77 (95%) plays. Jumal Rolle got all remaining cornerback snaps (36, 47%) and produced three tackles.
Safety Kendrick Lewis continued to be the workhorse of the back end with 70 (91%) of the snaps. Danieal Manning got the start over D.J. Swearinger, but Swearinger was on the field before the end of the first drive and ended up with more snaps (62, 81%) than Manning (49, 64%).