TEXANS 29, BROWNS 13

Texans dominate start to finish in 29-13 win over Browns

Andre Hal had a big pick. Tim Warner/Getty images

Houston dominated their ninth consecutive victory from start to finish with a 29-13 win at home against the Cleveland Browns. While the offense was good once again, it was the destruction of Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield that made this game one-sided. While the Texans’ offense played well, they finished five drives with a field goal, going 1-for-2 in the red zone. Clearly this game was about Houston’s defense.

The Texans defense ended the Browns last three drives of the first half with an interception. Zac Cunningham started it off with his first interception of the year and ran the ball back 38 yards for a touchdown, giving his team a 17-0 lead. The very next pass thrown by Mayfield was picked off by Jonathan Joseph, his second of the year. That led to a 42-yard field goal from Ka’imi Fairbairn, who went 5 for 5 on the day.

The Browns drove the ball into Houston territory on the next drive, but the end result was the same. This time it was Andre Hal who made a great-over-the shoulder interception on a pass in the end zone to halt Cleveland’s drive. It was his first interception of the season and a great play from someone who spent the first part of the season battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

The Texans offense kept rolling like it has all through this win streak. Deshaun Watson was 22 of 31 for 224 yards and a touchdown with an additional six rushes for 31 yards (forget about his kneel down for -1-yard to end the game). The NFL’s No. 4 rushing offense had another solid game on the ground with 187 total yards. Lamar Miller continues his pace for another 1,000-yard season with 103 today giving him 876 for the year and his fourth 10-yard rushing game of the season.

DeAndre Hopkins led all receivers with seven catches for 91 yards but was once again held without a touchdown. That honor went to rookie tight end Jordan Thomas, who continues to impress. He finished with three receptions for 32-yards and the lone touchdown reception, an 11-yard grab in the first quarter.

The offense wouldn’t have been able to do what it did without the effort defensively. In addition to the three interceptions, Houston forced a fumble on what looked like a long Browns' touchdown near the end of the third quarter. Baker Mayfield threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway only to have it called back on a holding penalty. Two plays later he found Callaway again for a 71-yard pass that was surely headed for a touchdown. Rookie Justin Reid had other plans. He was able to strip the ball at the one-yard line and it was recovered by Aaron Colvin in the end zone and returned to the two-yard line.

The Browns never got close again. The Texans defense was able to knock away eight of Mayfield’s 43 passes, while forcing a lot of check down throws for short yardage. They weren’t able to get any sacks and had just one quarterback hit, but that was due to Mayfield’s ability to extend plays with his legs. The excellent coverage downfield led him to finish with 397 yards passing but only one touchdown against the three interceptions.

Houston’s dominance in this game was necessary for a team attempting to keep momentum going the right way at the end of the season. They have won an unprecedented nine in a row after starting 0-3. They are starting to run away with the division and have nothing but winnable games from here on out. They have a three-game lead in the division thanks to a loss by the Colts today and could easily finish 13-3 or 12-4. Next week the second place Colts come to Houston for a very important divisional game. Houston won the first meeting in overtime after a questionable fourth down play call in overtime by Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich gave Houston a chance to win the game with a field goal. They likely won’t get a chance like that again.

 

Cheerleaders are supposed to be hot. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

In this age of safe spaces and emotional support animals I understand the plight of the modern day cheerleader and power dancer. They shouldn't have to hear hurtful words.

Longtime Texans cheerleader director Alto Gary was accused of calling her cheerleaders crack whores and porn stars when they wore too much makeup. This week a MIlwaukee Bucks cheerleader said she was locked in a dark closet and had to endure jiggle tests and fat grabbing.

These methods are probably unnecessary. Are they lawsuit worthy? That's for smarter people to decide. The Bucks did settle a suit for $250,000 because they underpaid their cheerleaders. That's something I can get behind. But that's arguable as well.

Exactly what are we looking for in our cheerleaders as 2018 comes to a close?

There are two main priorities in the cheer game: looks and dance-ability. We've gotten away from the gymnastics aspect. In high school competition it's still important but in the pro game we've gone to more synchronized dancing.

What we haven't gotten away from is how important it is to look good. As politically incorrect as that might be, it isn't going away anytime soon, maybe ever. We want our cheerleaders to look good. Sorry. Call me a neanderthal. Political correctness will never overcome a guy's pentiant to look at pretty girls. It just won't.

What we have here is the issue of how the cheerleaders are being treated and paid. Are the hurtful words necessary? No. But guess what. Stuff happens when livelihoods are on the line. You know what coaches call their players when they gain weight and get out of shape? You don't want to know. It's ugly. Body shaming? You bet. Happens every day in locker rooms all across the country at every level.

Some coaches are just mean and will pick at any inadequacy. Others use it as a motivational tactic. Who wants to be shamed publicly? No one but if I stay in shape I won't catch the coach's wrath so I stay in shape.

Let me make this perfectly clear though. I am anti-eating disorder. I like a little meat on the bones. That cheerleaders have to be Victoria Secret models is a thing of the past. Nothing wrong with some muffin tops in my book. I would be a great cheerleader director. After practice we'd order a few pizzas.

I'd be the only one who would do that but OK. Maybe I would change the game. Probably not but maybe.

As far as the inferior pay goes, I'm not sure that will change anytime soon. I don't want to be mean but let's be real. Cheerleaders are part of the game. They are not the game. Unless you are extremely perverted (and there are much better ways to get your perv on) the only people that are there just for the cheerleaders are their family and boyfriends/husbands.

The players are the product and they're expensive. Periphery attractions have to be affordable or the business plan doesn't work. Cheerleaders can and should make more than the miserly owners have been paying them but they're never going to get rich cheering. They're just not.

My cousin was a Honey Bear back in the day. She didn't make squat but she loved what she did and no one can ever take that away from her. There's a certain pride that goes along with it, not only for her but for the whole family. My cousin was hot enough to be a Bear's cheerleader. None of my friends had family that hot. I lauded that over them.

Let's not relent to political correctness on this. We just can't. Should directors lock cheerleaders in closets? Grab their fat? Wrap them in cellophane? Probably not. Should they at least make minimum wage and maybe more? Sure.

But we can't lower our hotness standards. They have to be smokin' hot and dance well.

I want my mechanic to know engines and fix my problem. I want my doctor to diagnose and cure my ills. I want my pilot to take off and land without incident and I want my cheerleaders and/or power dancers to be hot and dance well. That's the job. Period.

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