Despite a shaky first half, things should be alright for the Cleveland Browns after their 31-21 win over the Houston Texans

The Browns still aren't quite Super Bowl ready but things should be alright again on the shores of Lake Erie.

After blowing a 22-10 lead on the road last week in Kansas City, the Cleveland Browns got their first win of the season, defeating the Houston Texans 31-21 in their home opener. The atmosphere was electric in downtown Cleveland, surrounding First Energy Stadium and in the stands when the hometown Browns took the field.

When things were underway, it quickly turned to anxiety until the Browns finally pulled away from the Texans in the second half after things were tied up 14-14 at halftime.

It didn't help that Cleveland lost Jarvis Landry, one of Baker Mayfield's top targets, into this game against Houston. Landry suffered a knee injury on the opening drive against the Texans and the Browns believe the wideout suffered a sprained MCL and will need an MRI according to Kevin Stefanski. After losing Landry, it felt like the wind was taken out of Cleveland's sails offensively. Nick Chubb looked inconsistent. Mayfield tried his best to throw the ball around the yard but had an injury scare of his own. Rookie Anthony Schwartz, who dazzled against the Chiefs, was a non-factor and was the reason for Mayfield's first half interception.

When the second half started, and Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor was sidelined, the momentum shifted back to the Browns and Cleveland never looked back. Chubb was able to have one of his signature touchdown runs. Mayfield maintained poise, and accuracy, in the pocket and created time and more importantly yards with his feet. There weren't a ton of big passing plays from Mayfield but 12 Cleveland players did get touches for an offense that averaged 6.2 yards per play Sunday. So, for now, Cleveland is sticking together offensively with Odell Beckham Jr. and possibly Landry sidelined long term.

"We did not start well. We made the plays when we needed to later in the game, but turned the ball over twice again. It is just not good," said Mayfield. "We are hurting ourselves. We need to learn from these mistakes. Obviously, this week it is better to learn from a win than a loss, but we just have to be better and take care of the ball. We knew that is what their defense is all about, and we gave two balls away.”

The real hero and MVP of Sunday's win over Houston was rookie running back Demetric Felton. Felton, the sixth-round pick out of UCLA, provided one of the NFL's top highlights from Week 2, as he took a quick screen from Mayfield, made multiple Texans defenders miss, spun out of another tackle and raced into the end zone on a 33-yard touchdown. Felton's touchdown put the Browns up for good in a physical game against a banged-up Texans (Houston suffered nine injuries) team that simply wouldn't quit.

But, Felton wasn't done. The Cleveland rookie made one of the biggest plays on Cleveland's game-sealing touchdown drive. Felton took another short screen from Mayfield, juked the first would-be tackler and sprinted for an 18-yard gain that put the Browns in Texans territory. The Browns scored a few plays later on a Chubb touchdown to take the 31-21 lead they'd carry to the final whistle.

"It was good. It was an amazing play," said Chubb. "He broke some tackles and made guys miss. That is something I have always known he can do, and I’m glad he showed everyone here that he can do it.”

Cleveland believes Felton is poised enough to enter the game at multiple spots. Felton did not log an offensive snap in the opener but based on the game against Houston more looks, and hopefully touchdowns, are coming soon.

It's early but things already feel similar last season for this Browns squad. The offense has a lot of options and should be elite under Mayfield and Stefanski. But, the defense still has a lot of questions. After heavily investing in the defensive side of the ball during the offseason, Cleveland still looks fairly lackluster. In the first half, Taylor was 10-of-11 for 125 yards and a touchdown on a screen pass and he also had a 15-yard touchdown run.

When Taylor was sidelined with a hamstring injury, Houston rookie Davis Mills was forced under center for the Texans. Mills showed some rookie yips, he turned the wrong way on a handoff, and had some early chemistry issues with his teammates, Brandin Cooks wasn't looking and missed a great pass from Mills, but the former Stanford product looked poised when he settled in. Mills finished the game 8-18 for 102 yards a touchdown and an interception.

A lot of that should be credited to Cleveland's defensive effort. Again, it's early in the season. But, the Browns are still leaving wide receivers wide open in the middle and when they play teams with more offensive firepower it can burn them quickly. Sure, younger players like Greg Newsome II and Grant Delpit have looked promising early. But, fans should still expect more from a defense that's so overwhelmingly talented and Cleveland is lucky Taylor was sidelined or the sky might feel like it's falling.

Thankfully there are still plenty of games to go for defensive coordinator Joe Woods to shore things up and for the offense to figure things out as well. Stefanski himself said it best to his team in the locker room after congratulating them on the win.

"I'm going to ask you this, did we play our best? Did I coach my best? No, I did not," said Stefanski. "I will be better. We have to be better, okay?

"Good teams after a win identify, correct and then we move on."

The Browns still aren't quite Super Bowl ready but things should be alright again on the shores of Lake Erie. Cleveland, and their fans, should take things one game at a time and eventually everything will work out.


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