NFL wild-card: Back-to-back Joe Flacco pick 6s doom Browns in loss to Texans

The Cleveland Browns were having a hard enough time on Saturday dealing with C.J. Stroud.

Then the Houston Texans' defense buried them with two second-half pick 6s of Joe Flacco on consecutive possessions to take a 24-point second-half lead and eventually win 45-14 in a wild-card playoff matchup in Houston.

Cleveland got a much-needed stop to start the second half and had a chance to cut into a 10-point deficit when its opening drive of the half extended into Houston territory. But Houston's defense got pressure on Flacco and forced an errant pass that Steven Nelson intercepted and returned 82 yards for a touchdown.

The score extended Houston's lead to 31-14. On the very next possession, Houston's defense did it again.

On fourth-and-2 in Browns territory, Flacco underthrew a pass intended for Harrison Bryant. Christian Harris jumped the route for an interception and returned it 36 yards for another Texans touchdown.

That score put Houston up 38-14 and a quarter-plus away from what looks like a win in Stroud's NFL playoff debut.

Tough end for Flacco after strong start with Browns

Flacco took over at quarterback after signing with the Browns late in the season. He led the Browns to four wins in five regular-season starts to ensure their place in the playoffs despite a spate of injuries at quarterback, including a season-ending shoulder injury to starter Deshaun Watson.

He had a strong first half with 172 yards and a touchdown while completing 15 of 19 attempts. But the wheels fell off in the second to put Cleveland in a deep hole.

On the other side the ball, Stroud had his way with Cleveland's top-ranked defense while throwing for 274 yards and three touchdowns in his playoff debut. He did so against a Browns unit that yielded a league-low 164.7 passing yards per game in the regular season.