Sean Pendergast

NFL Week 13: Browns 27, Texans 14 β€” Four Winners, Four Losers

The Texans' defense did enough to win the game on Sunday, but Cleveland still won, 27-14.
The Texans' defense did enough to win the game on Sunday, but Cleveland still won, 27-14. Photo by Eric Sauceda
Prior to yesterday, he last time we saw Deshaun Watson suiting up in a regular season NFL game was January 3, 2021, the final game of the 2020 NFL season, a loss to the Tennessee Titans, after which J.J. Watt was captured on video down on the field apologizing to Watson for being part of an effort that "wasted a year" of the quarterback's prime.

That was 700 days ago, and feels like it was 700 years ago. Since then, Watt has long since moved onto being an Arizona Cardinal, the Texans are now two head coaches into what is starting to feel like an endless rebuild, and Watson himself wasted a second year of his prime defending himself from a couple dozen plaintiffs suing him for sexual assault.

So the scene on Sunday at NRG Stadium was surreal on so many levels. The crowd was energetic in their booing of Watson, far more so than their general level of enthusiasm for the Texans as a team right now. Ultimately, the fans were robbed of a chance to feel good about their team, even if it were just for a day, because the offensive coordinator stinks and the level of play by their starting quarterback was beyond a clown show.

The Texans lost 27-14 to the Browns on Sunday, and Watson generated just six points. The other 21 points came from egregious errors by Kyle Allen, and a rare special teams breakdown by the Texans' punt coverage team. So the book feels closed on Watson now. Let's get to winners and losers....

WINNERS

4. Creative jersey alterations
AS you may or may not know, in addition to my weekday morning radio duties at SportsRadio 610, I also handle the pregame and postgame radio shows for the Texans on game day. For home games, Seth Payne and I are stationed in Bud Light Plaza where there is heavy, heavy foot traffic, and thus, a TON of player jerseys worn by fans. The return of Watson was a call for creativity from jilted Texans fans, and many of them lived up to the hype. In case you're wondering what exactly I mean, take this one for example:
Or this one....
Among others I saw, one Texans fan had his old Watson number 4 jersey, but managed to change the word "WATSON" to "WASTE" (don't ask how, he just did it, I promise). Also, there was a fan who changed the number 4 to a capital letter A and put the words "TO CATCH" above the A, and "PREDATOR" below it. The juices were flowing indeed.

3. Jalen Pitre
The goal between now and the end of the season should be to see as many signs of progress amongst the rookie class as we can possibly see. It would be nice if the two first round picks from the 2022 draft were treading better, but Derek Stingley is injured and Kenyon Green is inconsistent. Thus, it was great to see the team's next pick in 2022, second rounder Jalen Pitre come away with a game shifting interception in the first quarter in the end zone against Deshaun Watson. On top of that Pitre found himself around the ball quite a bit, finishing with 16 tackles. A solid game for a very important rookie.

2. Hannah McNair
If you're wondering how the wife of Texans' CEO Cal McNair feels about Deshaun Watson, wait for the end of this video, when Hannah McNair turns her back on an approaching Deshaun Watson to converse with exactly nobody:
To be clear, I love this so much.

1. Logic and justice in the College Football Playoff
We interrupt this post about a Week 13 NFL game between two mediocre to poor teams to give the selection committee for the College Football Playoff a big pat on the back. The final rankings, the ones that dictate the playoff matchups, were revealed Sunday morning, and thankfully, the committee didn't penalize the TCU Horned Frogs for losing in overtime of their conference championship game to a top 10 team, and replace them in the final four with a team that didn't even make its own conference title game. Ultimately, the team that would have replaced the third-ranked Frogs would have been two-loss Alabama. Nick Saban lobbied hard to get the Crimson Tide into the four team dance, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

Sorry, Coach.

LOSERS
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Deshaun Watson was not great on Sunday, but his team came away with the win.
Photo by Eric Sauceda
4. Deshaun Watson
Hey, I know Deshaun Watson got his $230 million guaranteed, and he is, at least for now, on a much better team than the one he would have been on, if things had ultimately worked out in Houston, but his return to NRG Stadium had to be a complete disappointment for him. He looked beyond rusty. Hell, he one hopped several balls in the dirt to his receivers, and his interception he threw to Pitre would have been an unconscionable mistake, if it were against a team that could actually make him pay for it. The only thing that was really a positive for Watson is that the Browns won the game, but he better get it together quickly with the Bengals on tap for next week.
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Kyle Allen was atrocious on Sunday, with two back breaking turnovers.
Photo by Eric Sauceda
3. Davis Mills
Don't worry, I'll get to Kyle Allen and Pep Hamilton in a minute, but I first want to address Davis Mills, who was benched prior to the loss to the Dolphins in Week 12. This game on Sunday was imminently winnable for the Texans. I mean, the Browns' offense scored SIX POINTS. They got 21 points from special teams and their defense. If Mills was playing in this game, his B- game would have been good enough to come away with a win that really could have boosted his stock with Texans' fans (and thus, perhaps, the eyes of Texans' brass). But alas, he was so bad for the first three months of the season, he couldn't even make it to Week 13 to take advantage of the opportunity. Thanks for nothing, Davis!

2. Kyle Allen
Thanks to Mills' sucking so badly over the last month, we get new Starter Kyle Allen. Fresh off the loss to the Dolphins where Allen generated 32 yards of offense, as the Dolphins built a 30-0 lead, we get Kyle Allen barely completing 50 percent of his passes on Sunday, and even worse, we get Kyle Allen responsible for two "amateur hour" turnovers that handed the Browns 14 points:
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Lovie Smith has some major issues on the offensive side of the ball when it comes to his coaching staff.
Photo by Eric Sauceda
1. Coaching
I am assuming that the Houston Texans are not firing any of their coaches β€” Lovie Smith nor anyone on the staff β€” until after the season, because Pep Hamilton is one of the most abysmal offensive coordinators that I can ever remember covering as a media member, or watching casually as a fan. It's bad enough that he is handing the ball off to running backs on 1st and 30, and 2nd and 24 down and distance situations. That's bad. However, it tumbles into the category of "gross malpractice" when the Texans run four goal-to-go plays inside the Cleveland five yard line, and Dameon Pierce doesn't touch the ball on ANY of them! Inexcusable!  Pep must go!

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast