That was a tough one, but here are a few big plays to take out of that gut punch 21-19 loss to the 3-2 Falcons.
2nd Quarter - 0:41 remaining - Texans Ball
-42 yard line
3rd and ten
Texans trail 7-6
The Texans had 20 personnel in the game (three wide receivers and no TEs). They had FB Andrew Beck and RB Devin Singletary flanking QB C.J. Stroud in the shotgun. WR Tank Dell and Robert Woods were in a stack alignment to the left side with WR Nico Collins to the right side. The Falcons brought a five man pressure. Beck, Singletary and the OL picked it up beautifully which allowed Stroud to slide up toward the line of scrimmage with no one in front of him. That allowed him to have a clear view downfield. Woods ran the deep over route to clear the middle of the field. Dell followed Woods vertically up the field and then exploded to the post. Stroud threw Dell into an open area so Dell had to come back to the ball and he made one heck of a catch. But, in so doing, he jammed his knee into the ground and that forced him to fall forward on his helmet hard into the turf. Dell's catch put the Texans into field goal range just before the half, but his fall into the turf kept him out of the rest of the game, unfortunately.
3rd quarter - 4:46 remaining - Falcons Ball
+23 yard line
2nd and ten
Texans lead 12-7
The Falcons came out in 11 personnel with Falcons TE Jonnu Smith to the left of the formation. He and fellow TE Kyle Pitts were monsters on Sunday so down near the red zone Falcons QB Desmond Ridder knew he was throwing to one of them on this drive. As Ridder dropped to throw, Smith circled up between two Texans defenders. As he caught the ball, he was immediately contacted by DB Grayland Arnold who just kept ripping at the ball and ripping at it…and eventually, well, the BALL POPPED OUT. Arnold finally had ripped it out but LB Henry To'o To'o was trailing from behind and as soon as the ball was loose, To'o To'o PUNCHED it five yards downfield where Jalen Pitre was waiting. He scooped it up and started running like he was playing RB at Stafford High School back in the day. That kept the Falcons from putting points on the board.
4th quarter - 1:54 remaining - Texans Ball
+18 yard line
3rd and nine
Texans trailing 18-12
HUGE one on third and nine down by six. The Texans came out in 11 personnel, with TE Dalton Schultz as the point man on the tight bunch set to the right side. Nico Collins was out wide on his own to the left. It looked like the Falcons were playing a match coverage based on the Texans' pass catchers' routes out of the bunch set. WR Robert Woods ran a snag route to pull the cornerback to him. WR John Metchie ran to the flat which drew the outside DB. Schultz started to run the basic route (an in route) but as he did S Jessie Bates BIT HARD on the route. Schultz gave it a nod and then went to the end zone. Bates was now out of position as Schultz ran into the end zone wide open. QB C.J. Stroud threw a gem over the top to Schultz for his second TD in as many weeks. It was absolute BEDLAM on the field, which was just awesome to watch.
Alas, it was all for naught a few minutes later as Younghoe Koo knocked home the game winner for the Falcons. But, that throw from Stroud was just ridiculously fantastic on his last offensive play of the game..