Texans 14, Browns 6

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HOUSTON (AP) – The Texans weren’t good on Sunday. The Browns were worse.

Houston was outgained 306 to 177 yards, but got a 14-6 win over Cleveland (4-12) thanks to several costly errors by the Browns.

The victory gives the Texans (6-10) back-to-back wins for the first time since 2004 and marks the first time Houston has won a season finale. It also triples their win total from last year’s dismal season.

Rookie Chris Taylor scored his first career touchdown on a 5-yard run in the third quarter that gave the Texans a 7-3 lead. The undrafted free agent, who was signed from the practice squad earlier this month, finished with 99 yards. Ron Dayne did not have a carry as he aggravated the ankle he injured against the Colts in pregame warmups.

Cleveland’s Charlie Frye returned after missing the last three games with a wrist injury, but had a fumble returned for a touchdown and also threw an interception. Frye was 25-of-34 for 187 yards.

In the third quarter, Houston’s Anthony Maddox stripped the ball from Frye and recovered the fumble. The 295-pound defensive tackle then got up and barreled 47 yards before pushing Frye out of the way for the touchdown that stretched Houston’s lead to 14-3. Maddox also started the season on the practice squad.

Browns coach Romeo Crennel challenged the call, arguing Maddox was down, but it was upheld. The news sent Frye stalking around the sideline yelling.

David Carr was 9-of-15 for 86 yards and threw an interception near the end zone in the first half. His failure to move the offense most of the day could hurt his chances of returning as the Texans decide his fate this offseason.

Cleveland drove deep into Houston territory three times in the first half, but didn’t score after those possessions ended with an interception, a fumble and a missed field goal. The Browns were 0-of-2 on red zone trips.

The Browns had 19 first downs to just 11 by Houston and controlled the ball for more than 38 minutes. Kellen Winslow had 11 receptions for 93 yards and Braylon Edwards added four catches for 46 yards.

They led 3-0 at halftime after Phil Dawson’s 43-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter. Dawson added a 36-yarder in the fourth quarter.

Houston’s C.C. Brown had an interception and a fumble recovery in the first half, but the Texans weren’t able to convert either into any points.

The Texans got strong play from both of their top draft picks. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans made 10 tackles and top choice Mario Williams harassed Frye into an intentional grounding late in the game.

Cleveland’s loss, its fourth straight, could also raise more questions about Crennel’s future with the team.

AP-ES-12-31-06 1619EST

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