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Postgame Recap

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Browns' season comes to an end with Wild Card loss to the Texans 

Cleveland's postseason run ends with a 45-14 loss to Houston

Postgame Recap 1.13 (L)

The 2023 season has officially come to an end for the Browns.

In their first playoff game since the 2020 season, Cleveland struggled on both sides of the ball from the jump. The Browns gave up big plays defensively and had two crucial offensive turnovers that Houston capitalized on and set the Texans up to win 45-14. The Browns also could not find an answer offensively in the second half, as they were held scoreless.

Now, the Browns will head into the offseason reflecting on the positive and negatives of the 2023 season, as well as how they handled all the adversity with all their injuries from the first week of the regular season.

Key Moments

QB Joe Flacco had two critical interceptions on back-to-back offensive drives in the third quarter that put the game almost out of reach for Cleveland. While the Browns were marching down the field in the third quarter, Flacco's pass was intercepted by CB Steven Nelson, who ran for 82 yards on the returned for the touchdown. Then, as the Browns got the ball back, they went for it on fourth-and-2. Flacco threw a pass intended for TE Harrison Bryant but was picked off by LB Christian Harris and returned for a touchdown, giving the Texans a 38-14 lead.

The Texans sealed the win early in the fourth quarter on their first offensive drive of the quarter. On the third play of the fourth quarter, QB C.J. Stroud handed the ball off to RB Devin Singletary, who ran for 19 yards into the end zone, giving the Texans a 45-14.

However, the Browns defense struggled from the jump, as the unit gave up three touchdowns in the first half. They gave up a deep pass from Stroud to Collins for 37 yards and the third touchdown of the game to give the Texans a 24-14 lead. Both times the Browns offense scored, the defense gave up big plays and scoring drives to the Texans. Houston scored on a 76-yard touchdown run in the second quarter following RB Kareem Hunt's second touchdown of the first half.

Hunt put the Browns on the board in the first half. Hunt caught an 11-yard pass from Flacco into the end zone for his second touchdown of the first half.

On the second offensive drive of the game, Flacco connected with TE David Njoku for a deep pass for 45 yards and moved them downfield. It eventually set the Browns up in the red zone after a pass to Cooper. Hunt then ran up the middle off a solid block from Wyatt Teller into the end zone for the touchdown.

Players of the Game:

RB Kareem Hunt

Hunt put the Browns on the board in the first half with two touchdowns. He finished the game with 26 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown, as well as 9 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown.

LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Even as the Browns defense struggled on defense collectively, Owusu-Koramoah gave the Browns a boost. He had seven tackles in the first half of the game. Owusu-Koramoah finished the game with eight tackles and four tackles for loss.

Stat of the Game:

The Browns gave up 236 passing yards in the first half to the Texans. Rookie QB C.J. Stroud completed 11-of-16 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Stroud finished the game completing 16-of-21 passes for 274 yards.

What does it mean?

The loss ends the Browns 2023 season. It's a tough pill to swallow considering all of the injuries that the Browns have dealt with this season and the adversity they have faced as a team. They finished the regular season 11-6 and earned a playoff berth for the first time since 2020, and they held a high level of belief in what they could do. The loss will sting for some time, as the Browns did not play on Saturday like they have for majority of the season, especially on the defensive side of the ball. However, they will use this game as a learning opportunity as they head into the offseason and prepare for the 2024 season.