HOUSTON -- Houston Texans coach David Culley inspired a ton of second-guessing when he inexplicably opted to punt instead of accepting a penalty Sunday and being given another third down opportunity against the Cleveland Browns' defense.
When Browns defensive end Takarrist McKinley jumped offsides during quarterback Tyrod Taylor’s 13-yard completion to wide receiver Brandin Cooks in the first half, the Texans had a fourth-and-2 situation and sent punter Cameron Johnston go into the game. However, the penalty, if it had been accepted would have set up a third-and-10 situation.
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Declining the penalty didn’t wind up impacting the game significantly as the Texans’ 31-21 loss was primarily due to the Browns’ running game taking over and Taylor’s game-ending hamstring strain that could sideline him for roughly a month. After the punt, safety Justin Reid intercepted Baker Mayfield and set up a Texans touchdown and a 14-7 halftime lead.
Given a chance to do it again, Culley indicated Monday that he would have handled the situation entirely differently. And Culley explained that left offensive guard Tytus Howard’s false start was a contributing factor in his choice not to take the penalty
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Few NFL coaches are as honest and forthcoming as Culley, and provide this kind of detailed explanation on a decisions that backfired.
“If I had to do it over again, I would have taken the penalty,” Culley said. “ I’ll tell you as I thought about it, it was more out of frustration than anything. We were second-and-7. We get a false start, I think it was Tytus had a false start. Then we go to second-and-12 then very next play we lose three yards on it. So, now we are second-and-15. And then we got the penalty, the first thing that went through my mind and I was a little frustrated at the time because I was thinking field position. I did not want to do anything to hurt us.
“Because Cam as a punter, we had the ball right there at about the 49-yard line. I figured that he has been very, very good at being able to pin them back, and I was thinking that. But again, that was just out of frustration on my part because of the series that we were having at that time. But, no, if I had to do that again I would take the penalty. And give our offense a chance to get the first down, which I should have done.”
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