Bill O'Brien and the Texans wanted to get tougher this offseason.
On Saturday night, their rookie class showed some of that toughness.
From first rounder Jadeveon Clowney's tackle-for-loss and sack two-step in the first quarter, to undrafted free agent Max Bullough's fourth quarter interception, the rookies came up big.
"We take pride in it," tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz said. "We come out here and grind all day in this heat. When it pays off, it feels good."
Fiedorowicz caught a pair of passes for 14 yards on the Texans' first touchdown drive, and on both catches he was physical with the Atlanta secondary. The third-rounder said the team as a whole has taken on a "hard nosed" attitude.
Clowney popped running back Antone Smith for a two yard loss at the 9:03 mark of the first quarter. Smith took the handoff from Matt Ryan, and split second later was decleated by Clowney.
The first overall pick followed that play by dropping Ryan for a sack and loss of seven yards, igniting the Texans sideline in the process.
"It means a lot," Clowney said. "Trying to help the team out, do my part and rush the quarterback and make plays for the team."
Cornerback Andre Hal, a seventh round choice, picked off a pass and returned it 64 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.
Fullback Jay Prosch, with his left hand bandaged like a club, helped clear the way for fellow rookie Alfred Blue on a one-yard touchdown run. Blue finished with 22 yards on six carries.
Undrafted rookie Anthony Denham blocked a punt in the final quarter, which Jonathan Grimes picked up and ran 17 yards for a touchdown.
All around, the youngest Texans provided sparks in the triumph.