HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610) - After his throwing his third interception of the game, a ball intended for Tank Dell in the fourth quarter that was undercut by Arizona Cardinals cornerback Antonio Hamilton, Stroud walked off of the field unsure if he’d have the same opportunity afforded him the previous two weeks.
One week ago, after Stroud threw a fourth quarter interception in Cincinnati, which left the door wide open for the Bengals, Stroud walked over to head coach DeMeco Ryans and had one message.
“I went to DeMeco and let him know, ‘I got you, we are going to win this game,’ and he looked me right in the eyes and said, ‘I trust you,’ Stroud said.
This week, Ryans and the defense told Stroud, at least figuratively, the same thing.
The Texans defense came up with three consecutive fourth-down stops in the fourth quarter to win for the third-consecutive week.
“They did a great job,” Stroud said. “That's complementary football right there, them working with me, I'm working with them, week in and week out.”
After Kyler Murray led the Cardinals on a 12-play 65 yard touchdown drive that cut the Texans lead to 21-16 late in the third quarter, the Texans defense battened down the hatches the rest of the way as Stroud and the offense failed to sustain a scoring drive the entire second half.
Stroud threw for 259 yards within the first two quarters, completing 18 of his 24 attempts, including two touchdowns and an interception. But it was a different story in the games final 30 minutes.
The Texans shot themselves in the foot repeatedly. They missed 48-yard field goal, failed to move the chains on two consecutive drives and turned the ball over twice in the red zone.
Stroud finished with 336 yards, completing 27 of his 37 attempts with two touchdowns and the three interceptions.
“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 three-hundred yards again, two touchdowns. I don't think I played terrible, but of course you can't turn the ball over. But, the defense definitely held us up when we needed them to and it’s just a great game to learn from.”
Stroud will undoubtedly ‘bank’ those interceptions and learn from them, as he likes to say. He’s been heralded by his coaches and teammates all season for being a guy that simply doesn’t make the same mistake twice.
That unwavering confidence, poise and composure that’s become so identifiable with the 22-year-old in such a short amount of time, is what’s helped fuel the surprisingly early successes this football team is experiencing and it’s what allows Stroud to quickly flush the negative plays.
“Steph Curry don't ever stop shooting,” Stroud said with a laugh. “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. There’s things where it can go either way and they got the better of me today, that’s just the NFL.
“I'm blessed enough to come out of here with a ‘dub,’ and my confidence isn't going nowhere. I'm going to keep shooting it, keep letting it fly. And I think that's what makes me great, is that those times where you either get away with it or you don't, or you make the play, you don't. I've been blessed enough to have plays where nobody talks about it because they don't make the play. But this game, they made the plays and that's not going to skew my confidence one bit. I'm going to keep being me.”
Being him is what has catapulted this offense into one of the most explosive in the league.
Entering week 11, the Texans had 29 plays through the air that have gone for at least 25-yards on the season, which ranked first in the NFL. They connected on just one Sunday afternoon, the 40-yard touchdown from Stroud to Dell, but had six pass-plays that went for at least 20-yards in their 21-16 victory.
That 40-yard bomb that Stroud hit Dell on prompted fans at NRG stadium to immediately raindown chants of ‘M-V-P.’
“I really didn't hear it, but I appreciate it,” Stroud said with a smile. “That's cool. Hopefully, I keep playing well and keep putting wins together.”
The Texans won three consecutive games for the first time since the 2018 season, when they won nine-straight games in route to an 11-5 regular season finish.
While the Texans are still learning how to win and just how difficult they are to come by regardless of the team or overall record they possess, Stroud knows they’ve got a long way to go, before they get to where they want to be.
"We're going to need them for sure next week," Stroud said. "Jacksonville is a great team. Played them twice, it's hard to beat a team twice. We got to bring our ‘A-game.’ Their energy definitely helps."