Joe Flacco made sure the Cleveland Browns maintained control of their playoff destiny Sunday.
And Amari Cooper knocked Josh Gordon out of the Browns record books with 265 receiving yards.
They weren’t the only players making a difference in the Browns’ 36-22 victory over the Houston Texans.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 24, 2023
Here are the studs and a dud from the Browns’ big day.
Stud: Amari Cooper – WR
Cooper slowed down to catch a 53-yard pass from Flacco on their first play from scrimmage.
With a little more air, it might have been a touchdown instead of the afterthought it became on his big day.
Cooper eclipsed Gordon’s team record 265 receiving yards on a fourth-down play late in the fourth quarter.
Before that, he was already the first NFL player with 200-plus receiving yards in one game for three different teams.
Stud: Joe Flacco – QB
Flacco finished another big day with 368 yards and three touchdowns, hitting on 27 of 42 attempts.
He became the eighth QB in NFL history to win three games with at least 300 yards passing after the age of 38.
The other names in that group are Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner, and Joe Montana.
Stud: Za’Darius Smith – DE
Myles Garrett is supposed to create opportunities for other rushers while two to three blockers deal with him.
This week, Za’Darius Smith took full advantage while making life miserable for the Texans’ quarterbacks.
Smith ended his day with two sacks, two TFLs, four QB hits, and a batted-down pass.
Dud: Martin Emerson Jr – CB
Somebody must have called the NFL officials’ office to make a point about Martin Emerson Jr. before Sunday.
Or else he did something to really upset the officials who called every touch and grab in the first half.
Before he figured things out, Emerson’s hands cost the defense several stops that kept them on the field.