The Houston Texans fell 21-19 to the Atlanta Falcons in a Week 5 thriller that came down to the final second of the game. C.J. Stroud and the offense scored their first touchdown of the game with less than two minutes remaining to take a 19-18 lead. However, a Falcons field goal on the final drive would send the Texans home with a loss.
"Momentum, it started to roll there late," Head Coach DeMeco Ryans said. "I was proud of our offense for the way they drove down at the end of the game to give us an opportunity to go out and finish and win this game, but we came up short."
Stroud completed 20-of-35 passes for 249 yards for one touchdown and continued his streak without an interception in his NFL career. TE Dalton Schultz caught a team-high seven passes for 65 yards and one touchdown. Dameon Pierce rushed for 66 yards on 20 carries. However, the Texans were just 4-of-13 on third down and were 1-of-3 in the red zone.
"Third down wasn't good enough, red zone wasn't good enough," Ryans said. "We got to win the situation. We got to win in our situational football. We got to try to get points there, we didn't. Credit to Atlanta, really good defense. They did a good job of forcing us to kick field goals in those positions, but just have to go back, look at the film, find a way where we can operate better on third down and find a way to get in the end zone."
Ka'imi Fairbairn made four field goals from 38, 43, 28 and 42 yards in the loss. The Texans defense forced a pair of turnovers, in the third quarter but were able to convert just one into a field goal. Houston held RB Bijan Robinson to just 46 yards on 14 carries and 12 yards on two catches, including a touchdown, in the loss. QB Desmond Ridder completed 28-of-37 passes for 329 yards, one touchdown and a 111.2 passer rating.
After forcing a three-and-out on Ridder and the Falcons offense on the opening drive, the Texans scored first with a 38-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
Ridder began his second series with a 13-yard pass to TE Jonnu Smith. A trick play reverse had WR Drake London throwing a pass to Smith for a 22-yard gain and moved the Falcons into Houston territory. Robinson added a 13-yard run and three plays later, Ridder scored on a seven-yard touchdown run. The Falcons took a 7-3 lead with 6:48 left in the first quarter.
On the Texans' third offensive series, WR Tank Dell caught a deep pass for 22 yards. Two plays later, Stroud found Nico Collins for a 25-yard catch to get Houston to the Atlanta 25-yard line. Fairbairn added a 43-yard field goal to cap off a seven-play, 49-yard drive. The Texans trailed 7-6 with 14:10 left in the second quarter.
The Texans defense forced a three-and-out on the Falcons next possession. Jalen Pitre broke up pass to TE Kyle Pitts on third down. Houston didn't allow a scoring drive for the Falcons in the second quarter.
With 1:45 remaining, Stroud and the offense had one final possession that began at their own 11-yard line. On third-and-10, Dell caught a 29-yard pass to extend the drive and move the ball to the Atlanta 29-yard line. Stroud completed back-to-back passes to Collins for a gain of seven yards each. With six seconds remaining, Fairbairn made his third field goal of the day, a 28-yard kick. The Texans led 9-7 heading into halftime.
The Texans defense forced turnovers on the first two Falcons possessions of the second half. The first takeaway resulted when DT Khalil Davis forced a fumble on Robinson. Rookie DL Dylan Horton recovered for the Texans who took over at the Atlanta 30-yard line. Four plays later, Fairbairn added his fourth field goal of the day, a 42-yarder, and the Texans took a 12-7 lead with 9:35 left in the third quarter.
As Ridder and the Falcons were driving in Texans territory, Grayland Arnold forced a fumble on Jonnu Smith. Pitre recovered the ball and added a 22-yard return to the Houston 30-yard line. The Texans were unable to convert the second turnover into points. Stroud's pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage on third down, ending the drive.
Early in the fourth quarter, Ridder threw a short pass to Robinson for a six-yard touchdown to cap off a 13-play, 74-yard drive. The Falcons went for two and succeeded. Ridder's pass to Allgeier gave the Falcons a three-point lead. The Texans trailed 15-12 with 12:12 left in the fourth quarter.
Ridder led another drive into red-zone territory but the Texans defense came up with a big stop. Atlanta settled for its first field goal of the day, taking an 18-12 lead with 6:57 left in the game.
Down one score, Stroud and the offense marched down the field looking to score their first touchdown of the day. Pierce started the drive with a 13-yard run and a 16-yard catch-and-run two plays later. Stroud scrambled for a first down on third-and-1 to extend the drive. Houston moved into redzone territory after a big 12-yard catch by Robert Woods. On third-and-nine, Stroud found Schultz for an 18-yard touchdown. Fairbairn's extra-point attempt gave Houston a 19-18 lead with 1:49 left. The 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive lasted 5:08.
With three timeouts remaining, the Falcons launched a comeback of their own. Ridder's 23-yard pass to London had Atlanta at the Texans 26-yard line and in field-goal range. With just one second remaining, Younghoe Koo kicked the game-winning 37-yard field goal.
With the loss, the Texans fall to 2-3 on the season and will return to NRG Stadium to host the New Orleans Saints in Week 6.