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"Special": C.J. Stroud's teammates chime in on why rookie wins honor


A tone-setter.




C.J. Stroud is all those things--and definitely WAS on Saturday evening--according to his teammates.

The Texans quarterback capped off the 2023 NFL regular season by guiding the Texans to a playoff-clinching victory, and was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

To earn the honors, he started off Saturday night's game with a 75-yard beauty of a touchdown toss to Nico Collins, and then guided the Houston offense on three more scoring drives in the 23-19 triumph.

When the game was complete, the rookie completed 20-of-26 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns and zero interceptions, and a passer rating of 134.1. But the bomb to Collins on the first play from scrimmage gave his fellow Texans a massive lift.

"It just set the tone for the game and gave us a bunch of momentum early," linebacker Blake Cashman said. "We need that connection to keep rolling and play well through the playoffs."

Tight end Brevin Jordan was blocking on that play, and quickly told Stroud his thoughts.

"I went to CJ and was like 'Bro, you're different,'" Jordan said. "He has such a calm demeanor, such a swag to him. When you start the game like that, the confidence on the team just radiates. We feel like after that, it's over with. Like they can't play with us today."

For defensive end Will Anderson, Jr., watching what transpired from the sidelines was familiar. He routinely sees that from Stround and company during the week in practice.

"You see that all the time," Anderson said. "That's not new. It's a beautiful thing to see man."

The Colts, however, rebounded from that initial haymaker and would twice tie the game in the second half. A 49-yard Jonathan Taylor touchdown run squared it at 14-all in the third quarter, and a field goal 87 seconds into the fourth quarter knotted the score at 17-17.

Then, Stroud and the offense went to work. On a drive that went 73 yards on 12 plays, and burned 7:13 off the game clock, Stroud completed all seven passes he threw for 82 yards. It ended with a Devin Singletary touchdown run that gave Houston the lead for good.  12-73, 7:13)

"Special," Singletary said of Stroud. "Been special since day one. Just continues to prove us right. That's our leader. We love him."

It's the second time this season Stroud's taken home the AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. He also won it after his Week 9 performance in the home win over the Buccaneers.

Stroud and the Texans host the Cleveland Browns at NRG Stadium this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

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