HOUSTON — The Browns hoped Kevin Hogan would inject some life into a young team searching for its first win.
Instead, the second-year quarterback struggled in his first NFL start and a 33-17 loss to the Texans Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium.
Hogan tossed three interceptions — including a backbreaking pick-six — against a talented Houston defense that held Cleveland (0-6) to 247 yards and 3-of-14 on third down. [
Hogan, who earned the starting nod over developing rookie DeShone Kizer earlier this week, passed for 140 yards and a late touchdown. He was also sacked four times and called for a safety because of an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone.
Those kinds of self-inflicted wounds — which have plagued the Browns this season — proved to be too much to overcome in a game where they were overpowered on both sides of the ball.
After a dominant performance against the Jets last week, a promising Browns defense took a step backward against rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and a Houston offense averaging 39 points in its past four games.
Watson, the dynamic former Clemson star, passed for 225 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that cornerback Jason McCourty, who has been a bright spot for Cleveland, returned for a 56-yard touchdown.
That takeway, however, was too little, too late for a Browns team that trailed by as many as 30 points.
Something of a turning point came in the first half when the Texans scored two touchdowns in roughly five minutes.
Watson tossed a 39-yard pass to Will Fuller — their fifth connection in three games — with 41 seconds left in the first quarter before Pro Bowl cornerback Johnathan Joseph scored on the next series with an 82-yard pick-six to give Houston a 16-3 lead.
The flurry of points put the Browns in an early and all-too-familiar hole that they were unable to climb out of.
Cleveland hosts Tennessee next weekend before playing the Vikings in London Oct. 29.
The Browns play the Houston Texans in Week 6.