It's almost as if the Texans are playing a game of "Can you top THIS?" each and every week.
Beat Tampa Bay with a C.J. Stroud to Tank Dell walk off touchdown. What are you going to do for an encore?
Beat Cincinnati on a walk off FG on the road. What are you going to do for an encore after THAT?
Beat Arizona with a defensive stop (multiple stops, actually) with 0:30 seconds left in the game. What are you going to do for an encore NOW?
Play Jacksonville next week for the top spot in the AFC South. However, that'll have to wait a little bit because we've got to go back and knock down some Harris Hits after this 21-16 win over Arizona Sunday afternoon at NRG Stadium.
The Texans find a way to make each and every game exciting and I'm too old for some of this excitement!! I kid, I kid but I'd rather the Texans put teams to sleep when they have the opportunity to do so. Think about it, last week in Cincinnati, the Texans hammered the Bengals but a mistake here and a Joe Burrow-Ja'Marr Chase bomb TD there and it's a 60 minute ball game. Sunday against the Cardinals was similar. The Texans failed to convert on a fourth down in the red zone on the first drive of the game. Three interceptions were thrown in the red zone and a 47-yard field goal was missed. Let's just say that the Texans convert two drives into TD and one other into a field goal - that's 17 points, tacked on to 21 to make 38. It's not a stressful afternoon with a comfortable three score lead for much of the second half but it didn't quite happen that way. However, a win is a win, though, right?
View the best photos from the Week 11 matchup between the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals.
The defense was in game saving mode in the second half as the offense struggled to move the ball effectively and/or turned it over two different times in the red zone. The offensive drive chart in the second half went like this - missed FG, punt, punt, pick, pick but the defense saved the game. The three Cardinals drives in the fourth quarter ended on downs, ended on downs and, yep, you guessed it, ended on downs. I'm not sure I've ever seen that in a game, ever.
There were a ton of defenders that earned their flowers on Sunday afternoon and I'm not sure which one should be mentioned first, but I'm going with Sting.
The pressure that's associated with being a top three overall pick in the NFL Draft is immense and it's even more so when said draft pick has struggled with injuries as Derek Stingley Jr. has in his two years in Houston. But, last week in Cincinnati, Stingley Jr. returned to the lineup and played a solid game against his former LSU pals. He spent most of that game knocking off the rust in the win over Cincinnati. He was even sharper in his return to NRG Stadium. On the fourth drive of the game, the Cardinals, trailing for the first time all game, decided to test Stingley down the field.
Stingley ran with Hollywood Brown down the field and when the talented Cardinals WR looked back for the ball, Sting did too. Then, as the ball was in the air, Stingley went up and snatched it out of the air for his second career INT and first at NRG Stadium. I mean, that was one heck of a play. He had a pass breakup later in the game on a dig route to WR Greg Dortch. Sting was instrumental, along with Tavierre Thomas, in stopping Dortch on a 4th and three at the outset of the fourth quarter. Seeing Sting make key plays throughout the game was the perfect tonic for him, the team and the Texans fans. There isn't a defensive player I'm asked more about than Sting and he answered any, and all, of their questions with his performance on Sunday.
Will Anderson Jr. was the Terminator on Sunday - one sack, one impressive as all get out TFL and two QB hits, including one on Kyler Murray on the final Cardinals offensive play of the game. The sack was his third on the season. He's gotten so close throughout the season to sacks and the sort and has just come up short. But, he's been fabulous getting pressure on QBs all year long. He took that to a different level today as he was game changing today. His takedown of Cardinals RB James Conner was as impressive as anything I saw all day long. He was HIM as the kids like to say in this win over the Cardinals.
How much more can I say about LB Blake Cashman? He moved over to MLB against the Cardinals because of the suspension/injury of two Texans LBs. So, he had to handle ALL of the communication on a day when the fans were raucous and more boisterous than ever. Oh yeah, he finished with 19 tackles, one TFL, one sack and two QB hits. Bills CB Rasul Douglas will win AFC Defensive Player of the Week, but Cash should get a ton of acclaim for that effort, to say the least.
His fellow LB Christian Harris also played one of his best games. He had one impressive as all get out TFL and two passes defensed on bat downs of Kyler Murray's throws. With Denzel Perryman AND Henry To'o To'o out of this contest, Cashman and Harris needed to step up and play 100% of the snaps, which I believe each one of them did. Harris' speed and athleticism have popped the past two weeks, in particular, and he helps give this Texans defense an edge. He's not afraid to let an opposing offensive player know that they shouldn't try him that day. That added edge has played a role for this defense lately.
The Texans have had a 140+ yard receiver in each of their last three games. They've had a 140+ yard receiver in the following games.
Nico Collins - week 2 v. Colts (146 yards)
Tank Dell - week 3 @ Jaguars (145 yards)
Nico Collins - week 4 v. Steelers (168 yards)
Noah Brown - week 9 v. Tampa Bay (153 yards)
Noah Brown - week 10 @ Cincinnati (172 yards)
Tank Dell - week 11 v. Cardinals (149 yards)
They've also had 100+ yard performances in two other games as well
Tank Dell - week 9 v. Tampa Bay (114 yards)
Dalton Schultz - week 9 v. Tampa Bay (130 yards)
For a basis of comparison, the Texans had no 140+ yard performances last year and just two performances over 100 yards receiving in a game.
Chris Moore - 124 yards @ Dallas
Brandin Cooks - 106 yards @ Indianapolis
Tank's long TD catch before halftime was his sixth of the season, which tied a Texans rookie record (Owen Daniels had six in 2006). Dell also has seven more games on the schedule to break that record. The Texans record in a season is DeAndre Hopkins' 13 in 2017, which isn't, seemingly, completely out of reach, but going to be tough to get with so many pass catchers getting in on the action this year. Dalton Schultz added another one to his ledger, giving him five. Nico Collins has four, while Noah Brown, Robert Woods and Brevin Jordan have one each. So, QB C.J. Stroud spreads the wealth as he did again on Sunday. Speaking of C.J.
On the way home after the game one of the weirdest stats hit me.
The Texans are 3-0 in games in which C.J. Stroud has thrown an interception (New Orleans, Cincinnati and Arizona).
Thing about it is that I thought Stroud had one of his better throwing games of his short career. He was taking what he wanted throughout the day, but the three INTs came in the end zone or the red zone. Say the Texans don't turn the ball over and kick field goals on those drives. The Texans put up 30 points and no one is sweating the end of that game…for the sixth straight week. Either way, Stroud was 27 of 37 for 336 yards and a pair of touchdowns. That throw to Tank was on every single highlight show around the world. It elicited M-V-P chants throughout NRG Stadium on a day when the crowd was ON ONE all day long.
On the interception that was tipped into the hands of Cardinals LB Krys Barnes, big George Fant ran down Barnes on the opposite side of the field to save a TD. The Texans then got a defensive stop as they did throughout the entire fourth quarter. The big men were hauling down the field to make that stop but it was Fant who eventually stopped him on the sideline. What a play that saved seven points!
Fant and the OL were magnificent again in the run game. Devin 'Motor' Singletary ran 22 times for 112 yards and a touchdown. The Texans hadn't registered a running TD by a RB at NRG Stadium all season until Motor ran behind one of the best blocked run plays I've seen this season.
Singletary continues to run with such great vision, quickness and power. His strength is probably one of the least talked about aspects of his game, but when he got hit at the three yard line on his TD run, he carried Cardinals defenders into the end zone for his tuddy.