Texans look to build on first win after putting everything together to beat Jaguars
HOUSTON (AP) — Rookie C.J. Stroud led Houston’s offense with ease, the defense forced multiple turnovers and special teams made two huge plays against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
All that added up to one of the best — and most complete — wins by the Texans (1-2) in years.
Houston beat the Jaguars 37-17 for its first win of the season, showing just how good this team can be if it plays the complementary football first-year coach DeMeco Ryans constantly preaches.
“I (told) our guys before we went out, playmakers have to step up and make plays for us to win games in this league,” Ryans said. “And that’s what our guys did. We had a lot of playmakers, a lot of different guys stepping up in different spots making plays.”
Stroud, the second overall pick in the draft, threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns to become the first player in NFL history with 906 yards passing, four TDs and no interceptions through his first three games.
“It was an all-around win… I think that just sets the tone for what we can be in this league,” Stroud said.
On defense, linebacker Blake Cashman had an interception and recovered a fumble that Eric Murray forced to help Houston to the win.
But the biggest stars of the Texans’ fifth straight victory in Jacksonville were on special teams.
Defensive end Will Anderson, taken third in the draft, started things off when he blocked a field-goal attempt early in the second quarter. He was the first Houston rookie to block a field goal since J.J. Watt did it in 2011 and it was the first blocked field goal for the Texans since 2020.
The Texans scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive to push the lead to 14-0.
The Jaguars had cut the lead to 17-10 in the third quarter when Andrew Beck made the play of the game and one of the most memorable plays in franchise history. The 255-pound fullback became the heaviest player in NFL history to return a kickoff for a touchdown when he broke five tackles en route to the 85-yard score.
“When we make big plays, it’s going to always be about effort,” Ryans said. “It’s something I truly believe in. It’s relentless effort every play, all out. That’s how you win games. That’s how you impose your will on other teams is by playing with great effort.”
Stroud’s early success continues to make the passing game one of Houston’s biggest strengths. The Texans rank fifth in the NFL with 271 yards passing a game after routinely ranking near the bottom of the league in that category in the past two seasons.
“Everything starts with the quarterback,” Ryans said. “We have a good one who’s done really good things. He’s improved every week. That’s what I really like and admire about C.J., he’s dialed in to improving every week. He’s not satisfied.”
WHAT NEEDS HELP
While Stroud has transformed the team’s passing game, the Texans have struggled to run the ball. Houston ranks 29th in the league by averaging just 70 yards rushing a game.
WR Tank Dell. The rookie third-round pick from the University of Houston had a breakout game Sunday. He set a franchise record for yards receiving by a rookie with 145, passing Andre Johnson, who had a 122-yard game in 2003.
Dell ranks 11th in the NFL with 251 yards receiving through three games, which also passes Johnson (249) for most yards receiving by a Texans rookie in his first three games. He's proven to be a deep threat and had 46-yard reception to set up Houston's first TD Sunday before scoring on a 68-yard reception that sealed the victory in the fourth quarter.
RB Dameon Pierce. He ran for 939 yards in 13 games as a rookie, but has struggled to build on that this season. The 2022 fourth-round pick has managed just 100 yards rushing in three games. Pierce is averaging a paltry 2.5 yards a carry this year after averaging 4.3 yards last season.
S Jalen Pitre (chest) and LT Laremy Tunsil (knee) both missed a second straight game with injuries. It’s unclear if they will return this week.
0. Houston’s injury-riddled offensive line didn’t allow a sack Sunday after giving up an NFL-high 11 sacks through the first two games.
The Texans look to build on the momentum from this big win when they host Pittsburgh on Sunday where they’ll try for their first home victory since Dec. 26, 2021.
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