Shaq Mason doesn't have a particularly good view, in-game, of the Texans offense in action. He's typically concerned with blocking some of the baddest men in the valley: interior defensive lineman.
Instead, the veteran right guard uses his ears to know whether or not things are going well. In the Texans playoff romp over the Browns on Saturday, the roar of the NRG Stadium crowd was music to those ears.
"When I'm blocking and I hear that, I know it must, must be a bomb or something," Mason said in the locker room after the 45-14 win. "So that's always good. And I think our fans were very loud today."
The Texans faithful had plenty of reasons to explode. The offense had six different plays that went for 21 yards or longer. Throw in a 19-yard touchdown run by Devin Singletary and a 15-yard C.J. Stroud-to-Nico Collins touchdown pass, and the offense was in an 8.1 yards per snap groove on the afternoon. Stroud gave offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik a lot of the credit for getting the Texans into that groove.
"He knew to mix it up a little bit," Stroud said. "We wanted to throw the ball early just to set the tone that we were going to not shy away from anything. When you have an OC that's going to be aggressive and take care of the football, really that's a recipe for success. We're a very explosive team."
Mason and his linemates didn't allow a sack on the afternoon, either. That stat is one of many that contributed to the highest point total in Texans playoff history.
We showed we can run the ball today too, which is great. I think this is the best that we've played so far. We played four quarters of football this week, and that's what you want to do towards the back end. So, Bobby did a great job, our O-line, our tight ends, running backs, our receivers, our defense, scoring points. We talk about that all the time. It's really cool to see it come to fruition."
Collins, who finished with a game-high 96 yards on just six catches, wasn't surprised by the Texans' ability to pop off on offense.
"Not really," Collins said. "When it comes down to it, it's just preparation throughout the week. The defense gave us the look we wanted and we attacked it."
The Texans entered the game with just two active tight ends in Dalton Schultz and Brevin Jordan. They each finished with just one catch. But they made those catches count. Jordan's was a 76-yard touchdown while Schultz's was a 37-yard scoring grab.
Four different Texans caught a pass for 27 yards or longer, and Collins started the game with grabs of 21 yards, 38 yards and his 15-yard touchdown catch.
Stroud's heroics caught the attention of Browns veteran quarterback Joe Flacco.
"He did a good job on a handful of throws that he had to make in those situations," Flacco said. "Then you've also just got to give a lot of credit to the guys he got the ball to. I thought they ran the ball really well today after they got the catch."
**The Texans will hit the road for the Divisional Round of the playoffs**. They'll face either the Ravens or Chiefs, and will know their time and destination on Monday, after the Steelers at Bills Wild Card contest concludes.