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C.J. Stroud spreads the love, lights up Steelers defense in victory


C.J. Stroud continues to roll.

The rookie quarterback guided the Texans to victory for the second straight Sunday. They beat the Steelers, 30-6.

Stroud completed 16-of-30 passes for 306 yards, with a pair of touchdowns and zero interceptions. The Houston offense scored a touchdown on its opening possession, got field goals on the next two, and closed out the first half with a field goal to lead 16-0 at the intermission. A pair of fourth quarter touchdown drives sealed the win for Houston, which triumphed at home for the first time in 2023.

Despite the success, one of the first things Stroud emphasized was how he could've been better.

"I still think I left a lot out on the field today," Stroud said. "Could have played better in the red zone. For me, of course, I always want to snip that in the bud and get back to work."

Stroud's now thrown six touchdown passes in 2023, and zero interceptions. He found four different Texans for a completion of 22 yards or more, and hit Collins for a 52-yard fourth quarter score and a 42-yard pickup in the second quarter.

Of Houston's 10 possessions, three ended in touchdowns, and another three ended with kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn splitting the uprights. The Texans failed on a fourth-down conversion attempt in the second quarter and punted three other times.

But the opening touchdown drive, which went 69 yards on 12 plays, and lasted 6:05, saw Houston find the end zone three separate times. But the first score—a Stroud 5-yard run—was reversed upon replay, with Stroud being ruled down at the 1-yard line.

Two plays later, his 5-yard touchdown toss to Dameon Pierce was pulled off the board because of a penalty.

Three snaps later, Stroud drilled a 2-yard touchdown pass to Nico Collins in the middle of the end zone, and Houston held an early touchdown lead with 8:55 left in the first quarter. The resolve by Stroud and the offense meant a lot to Head Coach DeMeco Ryans.

"For us to score multiple times and get called back I think it was really momentum shift for our offense, right," Ryans said. "They knew they could put the ball in the end zone, and when you see that multiple times, we just gained more confidence."

While Stroud pointed out his areas for improvement, he also took some time to celebrate.

"It feels good," Stroud said. "It definitely does feel good to work really hard and see it pay off. To me it's just the beginning, and I'm super blessed."

Collins, who erupted for 168 yards and two scores on seven catches, had the highest of praise for his quarterback.

"Dude's balling," Collins said. "It shows the work he's putting in every single day. Film room, extra work, put in after practice. You can tell it shows up on prime time and it's only going to get better for him."

Stroud and the offense's next chance to get better is next Sunday at Atlanta. The Texans face the Falcons at noon CT.

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