(SportsRadio 610) - With another improbable victory, C.J. Stroud has not only put his team firmly in the mix of playoff contention inside the AFC with Sunday’s 30-27 victory, but planted himself in the heart of the MVP conversation.
DeMeco Ryans’ "never say die" squad continues to shock the league after game winning drives in back-to-back weeks.
Below is a look inside the numbers of the latest thriller and some key observations.
CJ the DJ
Because all he does is spin records.
Stroud completed 23-of-39 pass attempts for 356 yards and a touchdown. The rookie also scrambled for an eight-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
He became the only rookie over the last 40 years to lead back-to-back game-winning drives in the final two minutes of regulation. Pittsburgh Steelers QB Kenny Pickett led back-to-back game winning drives during his rookie campaign last season, but they didn’t come within the final two minutes.
Stroud, through week 10, has thrown for 2,626 yards, 15 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He’s the only QB in NFL history to record 2,500-plus passing yards, 15-plus touchdowns and five or fewer interceptions in his first nine career games.
Stroud is one of just four QBs in NFL history with 2,500 passing yards in his first nine starts, joining Justin Herbert (2,699 in 2020), Andrew Luck (2,631 in 2012) and Cam Newton (2,605 in 2011).
He became just the third rookie QB in NFL history to spin it for more than 350 yards in three games, joining Andrew Luck (2012) and Cam Newton (2011).
Can’t ignore Stroud’s three turnovers. The fact that the Texans were able to overcome them is pretty incredible as the Bengals were only able to capitalize on Stroud’s fourth quarter interception.
You can bet that’s going to be one Stroud files away in the memory bank along with the one he nearly had picked off in the first quarter by Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson.
Offense has gone nuclear
The Texans had 14 plays that went for at least 15 yards, including nine plays that went for at least 20 yards.
The Texans have 29 plays through the air that have gone for at least 25 yards on the season, which ranks atop the NFL through week 10.
How’s that for an explosive offense?
One week after The Texans amassed 496 total yards in their 39-37 win over Tampa Bay, they collected 544 total yards in the 30-27 win over the Bengals. That’s a combined 1,040 total yards the past two weeks and the most yardage compiled in consecutive weeks since 2019, when they combined for 1,064 yards in back-to-back wins over the Falcons and Chiefs in weeks five and six.
Noah Brown has gone berserk
Brown caught seven passes for 172 yards, eclipsing the 150-yard mark for the second straight game.
Brown is just the third player in franchise history to record consecutive games with 150-plus receiving yards, joining DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson, who each accomplished the feat twice.
Brown is one of only four players to have back-to-back games of 150-plus receiving yards this season, joining the Dallas Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb, Miami Dolphins' Tyreek Hill, and Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson.
Six of Brown’s seven catches went for more than 20 yards. The last time any NFL player did that was Hill during the 2020 season.
Brown’s performance is the highest receiving yardage total in a game against the Bengals in franchise history, surpassing Andre Johnson’s 143-yard performance in 2008.
Dalton Schultz caught four more passes for 71 yards on Sunday. None was bigger than the 25-yard reception on a third-and-six to help keep the final drive of the game alive.
He’s become one of Stroud’s most reliable pass catchers in recent weeks and while he’s certainly not known for his blocking ability, he’s stepped up in that area immensely the last couple of games, including laying the key block on Singletary’s six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to help give the Texans a 20-7 lead.
At the close of business Sunday night, Schultz ranks 11th among NFL tight end in receptions (37), eighth in targets (56) and eighth in yards (421).
It’s a winning formula.
One week after Stroud connected with Tank Dell for the game-winner to beat the Bucs, Dell caught six of his 14 targets Sunday for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Dell’s fifth touchdown reception of the season, a six-yard reception in the second quarter, helped tie the game at 7-7. The score also tied him with former tight end Owen Daniels for the most touchdown receptions by a rookie in franchise history.
Dell’s five TD receptions currently stand as the second-most among rookies this season, trailing Vikings receiver Jordan Addison, who has seven.
Texans can run the ball
The Texans rushed for 188 yards on 34 carries. It was the first time they’ve eclipsed 180 yards rushing as a team since week 16 of the 2021 season.
Devin Singletary ran for a career-high 150 yards on a career-high 30 carries, including a touchdown. His 30 rush attempts marked just the 12th time in franchise history a running back had at least 30 carries in a game. The last Texans running back to rush it 30 times in a game was Alfred Blue in 2015.
Singletary became just the fourth back in the NFL to carry the ball 30 times in a game this season.
DeAndre Houston-Carson racked up seven solo tackles, one interception and one pass defensed against the Bengals. His interception in the fourth quarter was the fourth of his career.
Shaq Griffin recorded the second interception of Burrow with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. It was his first interception as a Texan, the seventh of his career and his first since the 2020 season.
The Texans' back-to-back interceptions in Sunday’s win over the Bengals, marked the eighth multi-interception game in Joe Burrow’s career and his first since week 16 of the 2022 season.
The Texans tallied four more sacks on Sunday, giving them at least two sacks in four consecutive games.
Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who missed the previous two games with a knee injury, had five tackles, four QB hits, including a career-high three sacks and two tackles for loss in the game. The last Texan to record three sacks in a game was J.J. Watt in 2018.
Defensive end Jonathan Greenard finished with three solo tackles, one sack, one QB hit and two tackles for loss. Greenard has seven total sacks on the season.
Don’t overlook the D
It wasn’t a great start for the Texans on Sunday. The first play of the game, Will Anderson Jr. was flagged for roughing the passer and after the Bengals scoring drive on their first possession, the Texans did something no opponent had been able to do against them this season.
Stop the Bengals from scoring on their second possession.
Blake Cashman’s tackle to stuff Burrow on a third-and-eight scramble to force a Bengals punt was huge.
After Stroud lost a fumble inside of the red zone on the next Texans possession, Tavierre Thomas and Blake Cashman stopped Ja’Marr Chase short on a third-and-11 reception to again force the Bengals to punt.
Playing on the road, allowing a score on the opening drive and turning the ball over is a recipe for disaster and the Texans defense kept the game from getting away from them early.
After the Texans took a 27-17 lead, the two interceptions by DHC and Shaq Griffin were huge. It cannot be understated how big those takeaways were despite the offense not being able to capitalize with points.
Burrow and the Bengals were converting third downs and driving on both of those possessions and while the game was later tied, the defense did its part and then some in that environment on the road.
Just kick’n it
Matt Ammendola’s 38-yard game-winning field goal as time expired was his first game-winning field goal at the NFL or collegiate level.
Ammendola’s 45-yard field goal in the second quarter to give the Texans a 10-7 lead at the break was the third-longest make of his career.