3 takeaways from the Texans’ 31-21 loss to the Browns

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The Houston Texans’ dropped their first road game of the season during a 31-21 loss to the Cleveland Browns Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Texans’ most grueling battle during Week 2 wasn’t against the Browns, but the injury bug.

During the loss, the Texans sustained a total of nine injuries — six resulted in players not returning to the game. But according to first-year coach David Culley, injuries was not the reason the Texans dropped their first game of the season.

“I don’t think injuries were a big thing with our offense,” Culley said after the game. “The biggest issue with our offense were penalties. We had too many penalties, and we were not able to run the ball consistently like we wanted to. And I think that had more to do with us not being consistent on offense than the injuries.”

As the Texans look ahead to Thursday night’s prime-time game against the 2-0 Carolina Panthers, here are four observations from Houston’s loss against the Browns.

1. Tyrod Taylor put on a show against his former team

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texans-tyrod-taylor-scores-rushing-touchdown-browns

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Taylor is one of nine players who went down with an injury against the Browns. He suffered a hamstring injury late in the second quarter and did not return following the halftime break. But prior to his injury, Taylor was on track for what could have been one of the best performances of his career. He began the day connecting on 10 out of 11 pass attempts — one of which was a 22-yard touchdown reception to running back Phillip Lindsay. Taylor was making quick reads from the pocket, an improvement Culley wanted to see from his quarterback ahead of their match in Cleveland. Early in the second quarter, Taylor used his mobility to put the Texans ahead 14-7 with a 15-yard touchdown run. During his post-game press conference, Culley said the severity of Taylor's hamstring injury is unknown, but the 32-year-old quarterback is officially out for their Week 3 match against the Panthers. Taylor finished the game with a 144.3 passer rating. "There's a lot of things in each game that is out of your control, and it is all about reacting and making do with what you have," center Justin Britt said. "Losing five [Tyrod Taylor] definitely hurts."

2. Subpar debut for rookie QB Davis Mills

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texans-rookie-davis-mills-replaces-tyrod-taylor

Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

With Taylor going down due to an injury, rookie quarterback Davis Mills made his official NFL debut against the Browns. He threw for 102 yards and one touchdown on 8-for-18 passing while recording a 58.1 quarterback rating. Mills struggled through his first few drives, throwing a handful of uncatchable balls to his receivers. One of which was a deep pass to Brandin Cooks, who Mills overthrew amid his attempt. It was an unpleasant start for Mills, but the rookie quarterback got into a minor rhythm once the game continued. He began to make quicker decisions to avoid pressure created by the Browns' front seven. Against the Panthers, the Texans will likely start Mills in place of the injured Taylor. But if the goal is to win as many games as possible in 2021, Nick Caserio and the Texans will be better off signing free-agent quarterback Cam Newton. "As the backup quarterback, you always have to be ready for anything to happen," Mills said. "At any moment, you have to mentally prepare yourself to go in. I can improve and learn from some stuff. But overall, I don't think I was too rattled or wasn't ready for the moment."

3. Injuries may hinder breakout season for S Justin Reid

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Texans' safety Justin Reid could be on the verge of a breakout season, but a potential knee injury could hinder a career year. Prior to his exit early in the fourth quarter, Reid was the Texans' most valuable player on the defensive side of the ball, as he was the only Texan to record a takeaway against the Browns. Reid created a forced fumble early in the first quarter by punching the ball out of Donovan Peoples-Jones' hands. Christian Kirksey recovered the fumble. The second came as a result of an interception thrown by Browns' quarterback Baker Mayfield. Reid's interception set up a touchdown drive led by Tyrod Taylor to put Houston ahead 14-7. Following the game, there was no update on Reid's knee injury. But the potential loss of Reid could result in the Texans' defense taking a significant setback moving forward.

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