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Game day blog: Browns at Texans (Week 9)

By Nate Ulrich Published: November 6, 2011

Final score: Texans 30, Browns 12 (game story; box score; notebook; Marla Ridenour column)

Game action

End 1Q: Texans 14, Browns 3 -- The Texans struck right away by turning their opening possession into a nine-play, 82-yard touchdown drive. On second-and-4 from the Browns’ 27-yard line, running back Ben Tate busted loose off right tackle, broke free safety Usama Young’s tackle at the 16-yard line and ran into the end zone. On the Browns’ first offensive play from scrimmage, running back Chris Ogbonnaya lost a fumble. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans knocked the ball loose and defensive end J.J. Watt recovered at the Browns’ 28 with 9:43 left in the first quarter. Five plays later, the Texans capitalized and extended their lead to 14-0 when quarterback Matt Schaub ran for a 2-yard touchdown. Josh Cribbs returned the ensuing kickoff 63 yards, though he was called for a 15-yard facemask penalty when he stiff-armed Brice McCain at the end of his long run. The Browns’ drive started at their own 48, but it stalled after six plays. Phil Dawson made a 50-yard field goal (his career-high fifth field goal of 50 yards or longer this season) to trim the Texans’ lead to 14-3 with 3:43 left in the opening quarter.

End 2Q: Texans 24, Browns 3 -- The Browns continued to be dominated by the Texans’ running game. Running behind fullback Lawrence Vickers’ key lead block on linebacker Scott Fujita, Arian Foster broke free for a 19-yard touchdown. Neil Rackers made his third successful extra-point kick to give the Texans a 21-3 lead with 8:06 left in the first half. After another stalled drive for the Browns late in the second quarter, the Texans’ Jacoby Jones returned Bray Maynard’s punt 50 yards to the Browns’ 40. But during the next play, Browns middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass that deflected off the hands of tight end Owen Daniels as free safety Mike Adams hit him. The Browns, though, failed to take advantage of their takeaway. After converting on fourth down at midfield, quarterback Colt McCoy’s pass was intercepted by safety Quintin Demps on second-and-1. Demps returned the pick 42 yards and was tackled by McCoy along the sideline with two seconds left in the second quarter. Right guard Shawn Lauvao was penalized for unnecessary roughness during the interception return, allowing Rackers to move closer for his successful 28-yard field goal. The Texans led 24-3 at halftime.

End 3Q: Texans 27, Browns 6 -- During their opening drive of the second half, the Texans marched 78 yards in 13 plays. Rackers capped the drive with a 21-yard field goal that gave the Texans a 27-3 lead with 5:45 left in the third quarter. The Browns countered during the next series. Dawson’s 51-yard field goal put the finishing touches on the Browns’ eight-play, 35-yard drive that stalled after McCoy was sacked by linebacker Connor Barwin on third-and-6 from the Texans' 29.

End 4Q: Texans 30, Browns 12 -- Rackers made a 50-yard field goal to give the Texans’ a 30-6 lead with 10:35 left in the fourth quarter. The Browns scored their lone touchdown with 4:47 left in the game. McCoy rolled to his right and connected with Cribbs for a 2-yard touchdown. He then threw an interception on a two-point conversion attempt.

Pregame notes

Inactives: Browns -- QB Thaddeus Lewis, CB Dimitri Patterson (knee), RB Montario Hardesty (calf), RB Peyton Hillis (hamstring), SS Ray Ventrone (hamstring), OL Steve Vallos and DE Auston English (knee). Texans -- QB T.J. Yates, CB Brandon Harris, FS Danieal Manning, G Thomas Austin, G Andrew Gardner, WR Andre Johnson and TE Garrett Graham.

Lineup changes: Browns -- Chris Ogbonnaya will start at running back in place of Hillis. Texans -- Jacoby Jones will start at wide receiver in place of Andre Johnson; Lawrence Vickers will start at fullback in place of James Casey; Troy Nolan will start at free safety in place of Danieal Manning.

Preview stories via Ohio.com: 1. Running back Peyton Hillis' hopes of playing and putting drama behind him remain on hold. 2. Marla Ridenour column: Outlining the highs and lows for the Browns at this season's midpoint. 3. Matchup of the week: The Browns must brace for another elite running back, Arian Foster of the Texans. 4. Keys to the game. 5. Numbers to watch. 6. Predictions. 7. Quote of the week. 8. Injury report.

Top storylines -- 1.The Browns’ top two running backs, Peyton Hillis (hamstring) and Montario Hardesty (calf), have been ruled out. As a result, Chris Ogbonnaya is expected to start today when the Browns (3-4) visit the Houston Texans (5-3). Ogbonnaya, a Houston native, appeared in two games with the Texans this season. He also spent all of last season and part of this season on their practice squad before being signed by the Browns on Oct. 18. Thomas Clayton, who signed with the Browns on Tuesday, will be Ogbonnaya’s backup. 2. The Browns will try to rebound from their 20-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. As for the Texans, they’re 3-0 in the AFC South for the first time in franchise history and are striving to secure their first playoff berth. If they defeat the Browns, they’ll extend their winning streak to three games and establish their best record in franchise history through nine games. Can the Browns spoil the Texans’ chance to stay hot? 3. Texans Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson has been ruled out for today. He will miss his fifth consecutive game after hurting his right hamstring Oct. 2 and undergoing surgery to repair it. Meanwhile, Browns cornerback Dimitri Patterson will be out with a sprained left knee. Rookie Buster Skrine will replace Patterson as the Browns’ nickel back. 4. The Browns will reunite with fullback Lawrence Vickers, who became a fan favorite during his five-year stint in Cleveland. Vickers built a reputation as one of the best blocking fullbacks in the NFL after the Browns drafted him in the sixth round in 2006. The Browns, though, opted not to re-sign Vickers this year when he became an unrestricted free agent. Instead, they drafted fullback Owen Marecic in the fourth round. 5. Other Browns-Texans connections: Browns senior defensive assistant Ray Rhodes was a defensive backs coach (2008) and a senior defensive assistant (2009-10) for the Texans. ... Browns long snapper Ryan Pontbriand and Browns defensive end Emmanuel Stephens are Houston natives. Northeast Ohio connections: Linebacker Thaddeus Gibson, a member of the Texans’ practice squad, is a Euclid native who attended Ohio State. ... Texans assistant head coach/defensive line coach Bill Kollar is a native of Warren.

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