(SportsRadio 610) - After orchestrating dramatic fourth quarter game winning drives the previous two weekends, the Texans prevented one Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium, holding on 21-16 to outlast the Arizona Cardinals.
Below is a look inside the numbers and some key observations:
Bobby & CJ trust their dudes
Robert Woods, Tank Dell, Dalton Schultz and Nick Collins each hauled in third-down receptions for first downs and/or touchdowns within the Texans first five offensive possessions in first half.
Playing without Noah Brown this week, who led the Texans in receiving the previous two games with a combined 325 yards in 13 catches, the Texans didn’t miss a beat in the pass game creating explosive plays.
In the first half alone, the Texans had nine plays that went for at least 15 yards, including five that went for at least 20 yards. None was bigger and more impressive than the 40-yard bomb Stroud dropped in a dazzling connection with Tank Dell in the waning seconds of the first half.
The heads-up instinct by Dell to bolt like a squirrel to the end zone once the play broke down was key. He didn’t run back towards the ball, in fact, I think he broke for the end zone before Stroud pointed, leading him to the end zone for six.
That should tell you everything you need to know about how in-sync that duo really is.
Stroud was fantastic in the first half, throwing for 259 yards, completing 18 of his 24 attempts, including two touchdowns and an interception. He was also seven-for-seven on third down passing for 80 yards.
Tank Dell finished the day with 149 yards on eight receptions, including a touchdown.
NOTE: Dell set a new franchise record for most receiving yards by a Texans player through their first nine games, surpassing Andre Johnson (589).
Keep an eye on Stroud this week
Stroud was sacked/clocked/destroyed by Cardinals safety Jalen Thompson during the Texans first drive of the third quarter.
Stroud missed one play before coming back to make one of the more impressive throws he’s made all season, an 18-yard dart to Dell on the sideline. However, it was a viscous hit he took and the Texans showed immediate precaution by removing him from the game.
Hopefully nothing residual stems from the hit.
In his postgame press conference, Stroud did say he was feeling fine.
“I’m good,” Stroud said. “I just got the wind knocked out of me. I'm all right. Took a couple of shots, but that's football. I'll be okay. And, man, Steph Curry don't ever stop shooting. I'm going to keep letting it ride and I've got no shame in my game. I've definitely got to be smarter, no confidence is taken away from me. I'm going to keep letting it fly.”
Stroud finished with 336 yards passing, completing 27 of his 37 attempts, including two touchdowns and the three interceptions.
NOTE: Stroud has turned the ball over three times in the red zone this season. All of them have come within the past two games.
Stroud likes home cooking
Stroud has thrown for 1,695 yards in his five career starts at NRG Stadium, which is the most through five career home starts of any quarterback in NFL history.
Take it to the bank
Stroud threw three interceptions Sunday afternoon, two of which came in the red zone.
The rookie quarterback has been lauded since nearly day one as not being one to make the same mistake twice. He’ll have plenty of film study to go-over and make sure he makes better decisions when the Texans are inside the opponents 20-yard line where they’ve struggled this season, ranking seventh worst in conversion percentage at just 47.2 percent, including scoring just once in four tries on Sunday.
“I thought we threw the ball really well,” Stroud said. “I don't look at three plays and, like, dang, I had a bad game. Of course, I can't turn the ball over that much. Threw for 300 yards again two touchdowns. I don't think I played terrible, but of course you can't turn the ball over.”
He’s said before, he takes those interceptions to the bank. He’ll be making a few deposits after rewatching this one.
Singletary does it again
For the first time in Devin Singletary’s career, he put together back-to-back 100-yard performances. Fresh off of a career-high 150 yards on 30 attempts in the Texans win over the Bengals, Singletary came up with a HUGE performance Sunday.
He finished with 112 yards on 22 carries, including an 11-yards touchdown run in the second quarter that gave the Texans a 14-10 lead. The fifth-year pro tallied 84 rushing yards in the first half to go along with the monster first 30-minutes that Stroud had. Every yard gained and every second the Texans possessed the ball felt even more necessary and vital by the end of this one as the Texans struggled mightily to sustain much of anything in the second half.
Singletary became first Texan to tally 100-plus rushing yards in back-to-back games since RB Lamar Miller did it in 2018.
Underrated catch of the day
Nico Collins returned this week after missing the Bengals game dealing with a calf injury. The third-year pro hauled in seven catches for 65 yards, but none was more impressive than the 23-yard grab he made through contact on a third-and-three in the fourth quarter.
The catch got the Texans into scoring position, but was negated two plays later by Stroud’s third interception of the game.
Collins has been tremendous this season maintaining control through contact. He finished with seven catches and 65 yards.
Schultz’s 20-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was his fifth on the season. He’s now caught at least five touchdowns in three consecutive seasons and has a touchdown reception in five of his last seven games played.
Schultz, only targeted three times Sunday, finished with two catches and 32 yards.
Linebacker play loomed large
The Texans desperately needed their linebackers to step up in a big way Sunday. Extremely shorthanded at the position with Denzel Perryman serving the first game of a two-game ban, rookie Henry To’oTo’o still sidelined with a concussion and Jake Hansen banged up, Blake Cashman and Christian Harris answered the bell in a big way Sunday.
In the third quarter, Harris batted Kyler Murray’s pass attempt down on second-and-goal, then saved a touchdown on the next play, hitting Murray short of the goal line. While he got tripped up on Murray’s touchdown run, he stopped him on a quarterback keeper for the two-point conversion attempt, and the Texans trailed 21-16 with 2:52 to play in the third.
That failed conversion proved vital, as the Cardinals could’ve attempted a potential game tying field goal late. Instead, they were forced to go for it on fourth down to try and score a touchdown after reaching the Texans 27-yard line with thirty-five seconds remaining in the game.
On the Cardinals final offensive possession, Harris came up with a big tackle for loss, sniffing out a swing pass to running back James Conner in the backfield for a five-yard loss. The very next play, a third-and-eight, Harris was in on the stop again, forcing an incompletion on a pass intended for Marquise Brown.
Blake Cashman had a career-high 19 tackles in the win, tying the franchise record for tackles in a single-game. Cashman sack Murray on a third-and-10 in the second quarter with the Texans leading 14-10 with 4:52 remaining in the half. The eight-yard loss forced the Cardinals to punt and the offense capitalized by scoring a touchdown before the break to take a 21-10 lead into halftime.
Cashman was all over the place and helped finish plays all game long.
Facing a second-and-13, Murray found tight end Elijah Higgins for a 20-yard gain, but the ground appeared to have helped him catch the ball.
It was close, but DeMeCo Ryans threw the red challenge flag just in time. After review, the call was reversed and the Texans ended up capitalizing on it.
Derek Stingley had a big tackle on fourth down to stop Cards receiver Greg Dortch short of the first down marker, forcing a turnover on downs.
For Stingley, who also had an interception in the game, easily played his best game as a Texans to date.
DeAndre Houston-Carson is solid, I really like him in this defense. He’s a good tackler and always seems to be in a good spot to contest balls. He finished with five tackles and a pass deflection.
Will Anderson got his first legitimate sack since week one and it came at a great time as well. Anderson got to Murray on a third-and-11, the sack pushed the Cardinals back five yards and forced a 57-yard field goal attempt which put the Cards in front 10-7 late in the first quarter.
Steven Nelson continued to make his impact on the team felt this season, coming up with a potentially game saving pass deflection in the waning seconds of Sunday afternoon’s game.
Murray, looking to hit Marquise Brown on a deep pass down the left sideline on a fourth-and-eight, Nelson laid out completely to swat the ball away out of bounds to secure the victory.
My unsung-hero of the game is DeAngelo Ross.
If not for him reacting the way he did to a phantom muffed punt in the fourth quarter, who knows how the game would’ve ended.
The ball clearly bounced off of Ross’ right butt cheek, but because it was ruled a muffed punt in real time, there was nothing conclusive on replay to overturn the original call.
It was HUGE because the Cardinals would’ve maintained possession and the Texans defense would’ve had to go right back onto the field after back-to-back three-and-out’s by the offense.
Even though Stroud ended up throwing his second interception of the game moments later, it at least allowed the defense to regroup, which of course proved vital as their third consecutive stop on a fourth-down attempt by the Cardinals won the game