Even without Arian Foster, Texans run all over Browns defense
CLEVELAND-- The Browns had a golden opportunity before them, but before the day was over, it turned blue.
It wasn't just the 27-degree wind chill factor that turned the Browns blue-- but more the running of Alfred Blue.
Blue, filling in for Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster ran for 156 yards and the Browns saw their perch atop the AFC North disappear as they dropped a 23-7 decision to the Houston Texans at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Browns drop to 6-4, while the Bengals won to improve to 6-3-1 and regain the lead in the division. The Steelers, Ravens and Browns are all currently 6-4. The Ravens are on bye and the Steelers play Monday Night against the Titans.
"It was disappointing to have the momentum and a little bit of time off and come out and play that way," Mike Pettine said. "We got beat soundly in all three phases. We came up small at the bigger moments (of the game)."
Blue led the Texans rushing attack that accounted for 213 yards. Blue carried the ball 36 times, while Jonathan Grimes added 54 yards on 13 carries.
The Browns came into the league allowing 134.2 yards a game, 28th in the NFL. With the NFL's second leading rusher in Foster on the sideline, and Ryan Mallett making his first start, many figured the Browns defense would have a good day.
However, Blue stepped in and the Texans offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage.
"(Houston's) offensive line, especially in the run game, is one of the better ones in the league," Pettine said. "That was proven by substituting the back out and still having success."
The Browns lost Phil Taylor to season-ending knee injury this week and were already down Armonty Bryant and John Hughes from previous injuries.
To make matters more difficult, linebacker Karlos Dansby went down with a knee injury in the second quarter and did not return. Linebacker Jabaal Sheard left the game with an ankle injury, but Pettine offered no excuses.
"(The injuries) have an effect, but this is the National Football League," Pettine said. "Injuries are a part of it. The next guy has to step up and be able to play when guys go down. The guys who go in there have to step up and play."