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C.J. Stroud throws two TDs, shows resiliency in 20-13 win vs. Saints


C.J. Stroud led his offense to another win at home, despite a turnover early in the game. During Sunday's 20-13 victory against the Saints, Stroud threw touchdown passes to TE Dalton Schultz and WR Robert Woods in the first and second quarters, respectively, but also his first career NFL interception.

"With C.J., it's the same, it's resiliency," Head Coach DeMeco Ryans said. "Even though he throws his first interception of his career - and I mean can't say enough about Nico (Collins) first, and his effort, his mindset to go and get the ball back in that situation - and the resiliency of our offense just to, no matter what happened, bad things happen, but you don't let that affect the next play. They went down and drove on them and scored right there. I think that was the turning point of the game for us and on offense."

On just his second offensive series, Stroud's pass was picked off by Saints LB Zack Baun. Before the Saints could even celebrate, WR Nico Collins punched the ball out and OL Tytus Howard recovered possession. What could have been a disastrous play, ended in first down and, ultimately, a touchdown.

"That's life," Stroud said. "There's ups and downs. The teammates were, like, you've got this, let's go. I looked back, DeMeco was, like, 'You've got it.' I could see it in his eyes, like he cared about how I was going to respond. So for me, that meant a lot just for them to have trust and faith in me."

Stroud admits he is his biggest critic, recalling his Rose Bowl performance where he threw an interception coming out of halftime. The Buckeyes were down two scores when Stroud's pass was picked off, but he learned early on how to bounce back. Stroud says Head Coach Ryan Day, who still calls him after Texans games, gave him a look of encouragement. Stroud went on to lead the Buckeyes to a 48-45 victory over Utah.

Now in the NFL, Stroud still receives encouragement on the sidelines. That faith in him give Stroud the motivation to focus on the next play.

"Nico made a good play, and I remember, like I told you, I'm looking back at the sideline, (OC) Bobby (Slowik), DeMeco, were just like, 'Keep going. They got you but they won't get you again,'" Stroud said. "That was very positive on the sideline as well helped me a lot."

Heading into the Week 7 bye, the Texans have a 3-3 record. Stroud has shined through his first six NFL games, throwing for 1,660 yards, nine touchdowns, one interception and a 96.4 passer rating.

"Bad things happen, we responded the correct way," Ryans said. "That's what you continue to see from C.J. even though it's a bad play, it doesn't affect the next play. That's growth and that's really great to see from a young quarterback."

Stroud bounced back with a six-play, 59-yard scoring drive that ended in a one-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods to give Houston a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

"Just learning from that, excited we went down and scored," Stroud said. "I thought that was really big. A lot of other things I can clean up, like some things I probably did worst than the interception that wasn't really highlighted. So for me just getting better."

The Houston Texans rookie quarterback completed 13-of-27 for 199 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Stroud threw 191 NFL passes before having one intercepted, but he's concerned more about cleaning up other mistakes.

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