For the second straight game, C.J. Stroud wasn't sacked.
The rookie quarterback was dropped 11 times combined in the first two games of his career. But at Jacksonville a week ago and against the Steelers yesterday at NRG Stadium he stayed upright. It's no coincidence the Texans won both contests handily.
"That's big time," tight end Dalton Schultz said. "Everybody knows we're banged up, up front. For the guys that are playing, it's the next man up mentality. Those guys are battling all game."
Houston was without Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil for the second straight week, and right tackle Tytus Howard's been on injured reserve. Left guard Kenyon Green and rookie center Juice Scruggs went on IR after the third preseason game, and new additions Kendrick Green and Josh Jones have also now missed varying amounts of time to injury. The group of Austin Deculus, Geron Christian, Green, Jones Jimmy Morrissey, Jarrett Patterson, Shaq Mason and George Fant has helped keep Stroud clean for the last 127 snaps.
"Two weeks in a row, guys playing solid," Stroud said. "Guys stepping up. This is the league, next man up, and my guy Dec stepped in, did a great job. K.G., J-Pat, Shaq, George. When those guys up front are battling, we're battling outside too to make plays."
That offensive line deserves praise. But as head coach DeMeco Ryans explained Sunday, so too do a few others on the offensive unit.
"I always go back to it doesn't matter who is out there," Ryans said. "You protect together. All 11 guys, that's how you protect, starting with the O-line, the tight ends, backs, but also it's the quarterback and receivers getting the ball out, running routes with the proper timing, quarterback getting the ball out on time."
Patterson, just four games into his NFL career, has started all of those contests. He and the Texans kept a Steelers defense that entered Sunday's game with an NFL-best 11 combined sacks, off of Stroud.
"We knew coming in Pittsburgh has a great pass rush, especially on the edges," Patterson said. "We knew for us, the guys in the interior, we'd need to be really solid because obviously those guys outside are really special players."
There's a chance Howard, Tunsil and Scruggs are able to practice this week after missing time to injury.
The Texans are off Tuesday, and will beging practicing Wednesday at the Houston Methodist Training Center.
They face the Falcons in Atlanta on Sunday at noon CT.