The Houston Texas can finish .500 for the first time in their brief history when they host the woeful Cleveland Browns, who hope to avoid a franchise-record 10th straight loss.
Houston, which became the league’s 32nd franchise in 2002, went 5-11 last season—one game better than its inaugural campaign.
The Texans played the role of spoiler last week as Domanick Davis ran for a career-high 150 yards and a touchdown in a 21-0 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, who could have taken control of the final AFC wild-card spot with a victory.
“They’re sitting there worried about Baltimore and Pittsburgh. They should have been worried a little bit about us,” Texans defensive end Gary Walker said after beating the Jaguars for the second time this season.
Linebacker Jamie Sharper had a team-high nine tackles and forced a fumble as Houston recorded the first shutout in franchise history. Sharper and fellow linebacker Kailee Wong have spearheaded a defense that has not allowed a touchdown in the last 11 quarters.
“This is the best defensive game we’ve had in our three-year history,” Jaguars coach Dom Capers said. “It shows you the kind of pride and character they have.”
Houston’s defense took the field with a lead as Davis carried six times on the opening drive, capping it with a one-yard plunge for a 7-0 lead 6:27 into play. It was just the third time ever that the Texans scored a touchdown on the opening drive and they have won each of those games.
Leads have been a rarity for Cleveland, which has lost nine straight games— the last four coming under interim coach Terry Robiskie following the resignation of Butch Davis on Nov. 30.
It was the second straight 100-yard game for Suggs, who fumbled three times. He had missed three straight games with a toe injury before returning against San Diego on Dec. 19.
“We felt the more we gave it to him the more he would find the creases,” Robiskie said. “We thought that was our best chance to win the game. We didn’t think about him getting tired or winded, we thought that he would win the game for us.”
The most costly of Suggs’ fumbles came early in the second quarter, when he turned the ball over at the Dolphins’ 2-yard line. While Suggs was a workhorse, the Browns were unsuccessful though the air. Luke McCown was just 9-of-16 for 161 yards and a touchdown. He was intercepted and sacked twice.
Cleveland, which has 15 players on injured reserve, also lost nine straight games to start the 1975 season. Even with another defeat, the Browns will not finish with their worst record ever as they went 2-14 in 1999.
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