Even in a loss, C.J. Stroud managed to shine.
The Texans dropped one to Jacksonville, 24-21, and their record is now 6-5 in 2023.
Stroud, however, threw for a pair of touchdowns, ran for another, and completed 26-of-36 passes for 304 yards. He wasn't picked off, and 10 different Texans caught a ball from the rookie signal-caller.
Many of those connections came with Stroud under duress. He was sacked four times on the day, and consistently had to make throws while on the move and eluding the Jaugars' pass rush.
"It's my job so extend the play," Stroud said. "I think we did a good job of scrambling. Towards the back end we were a little tired out there, so we weren't really moving well. I feel like we can definitely be better at scramble drills. We have to work on some things on that."
After his touchdown run gave Houston a 14-13 lead with 8:10 left in the third quarter, Stroud walked off the field to "M-V-P" chants from the NRG Stadium crowd. Those same chants grew louder after a fourth quarter 17-yard touchdown pass to Nico Collins pulled the Texans to within 24-21. The quarterback on the other side of the field, Trevor Lawrence, noticed.
"C.J. is playing lights out," Lawrence said. "He's doing a great job. To be a rookie and to play how he is, I've got a lot of respect for him. I know how hard it is. I've been in that position. He's doing a great job, and it's going to be fun for years to come hopefully."
Stroud linked up with fellow rookie Tank Dell in the second quarter, finding the wide receiver for a 7-yard scoring strike after being forced to buy time with his legs. Ultimately, the Jaguars hit Stroud seven times on the day, and Dell was impressed with what his quarterback was able to do.
"7, he's a warrior," Dell said. "Plays were breaking down and he was trying to extend plays and make plays. He was connecting with receivers."
Head Coach DeMeco Ryans was also impressed with the way Stroud was able to operate under consistent pressure from the Jacksonville defense.
"I thought C.J. did a really good job of being able to move around and extend plays," Ryans said. "Made a couple of big plays for us. I thought he moved around well when he had to, took what the defense gave him."
Stroud and the Texans will host the Broncos next Sunday at noon inside NRG Stadium.