Watch Kevin Stefanski react to Texans inexplicably punting after declining Browns penalty


Now here’s a weird one. First-year Texans coach David Culley short-circuited during Sunday’s game at Cleveland, stunning his Browns counterpart Kevin Stefanski with one of the most bizarre sequences in recent memory.

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Tied at seven early in the second quarter, Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor (who was later lost to a hamstring injury) checked down to Brandin Cooks for a 13-yard pick-up on third and long, setting up a fourth-and-two opportunity from the Browns’ 49-yard-line. However, Browns defensive end Takkarist McKinley was whistled offsides on the play, a five-yard penalty the Texans could either accept (repeating third down) or decline. Culley chose to decline, an odd decision made more inexplicable by his choice to summon punter Cameron Johnston instead of leaving his offense on the field to attempt what would have been a makeable fourth-down conversion.

On the opposite sideline, Stefanski appeared visibly shocked at what was unfolding, unable to see the logic in aborting the drive when Houston could have simply tried again on third and 10. Culley later defended his decision to punt, preferring to pin Cleveland deep in its own territory (Johnston punted into the end zone for a touchback) rather than chancing it on fourth down. It didn’t end up hurting the Texans—the Browns’ subsequent drive was stalled by a Baker Mayfield interception—though Culley’s galaxy-brain moment from Sunday’s game speaks volumes, highlighting both his inexperience as a head coach and a lack of faith in the offense to convert on fourth down.

The Texans will look to rebound from Sunday’s defeat when they host the resurgent Panthers—fresh off a 26-7 drubbing of division-rival New Orleans—Thursday at NRG Stadium in Houston. Third-round rookie Davis Mills (8-of-18 for 102 yards with a touchdown and an interception in the loss to Cleveland) will make his first career start in that game.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Jason Miller, Getty Images