“Credit to our guys especially in those moments because none of it was too big for them,” Ryans said. “We had an opportunity and the guys made big time plays."
Houston’s offense has stepped up countless times this season.
For the most part, it’s been the offense that’s been the story for the Texans , with CJ Stroud putting up numbers and leading the team to wins in clutch moments.
But when Houston needed a play to be made on Sunday, it wasn’t the offense that gave it to them, it was the defense that stepped up repeatedly in Houston’s game, stopping the Arizona Cardinals every step of the way in a 21-16 win as the Texans kept pace in the AFC South and the wild card chase.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” said Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans. “Hopefully we can stop making them so close, but when you’re coming out on the right side of it, you’ll take it every single time. I’m proud of them and the growth they keep displaying. No matter what happened, nobody cared or flinched. Everyone had the mindset of finding a way to win and that’s what it’s all about.”
Arizona was the team that punched first, the Cardinals went 75 yards in just four plays, scoring first on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Kyler Murray to Rondale Moore. The Texans then turned it over on downs inside the redzone to give Arizona more momentum, but Houston’s defense came up with a stop and the team tied it on a 20-yard pass from Stroud to Schultz midway through the first quarter.
Arizona regained the lead on a 57-yard field goal by Matt Prater, but Houston came back and took its first lead of the game early in the second quarter on a 12-yard run by Devin Singletary. The Houston defense continued to step up, as Derek Stingley Jr. came up with a big interception and Houston extended it’s lead late in the half on a huge 41-yard pass from Stroud to Tank Dell, going inot the locker room leading 21-10.
The Texans offense stagnated in the second half but the defense kept up its strong performance. Arizona scored after a long drive late in the third quarter to make it a five point game, but the Texans defense made a big stop on fourth down in the redzone early in the fourth quarter and then after a Texans three-and out Houston recovered a muffed punt inside the Arizona redzone. Houston’s offense couldn’t convert this into points though and gave the ball back to Arizona when Stroud threw an interception. Houston’s defense came up with another fourth down stop though, but Stroud’s third interception of the day gave the ball back to Arizona with five minutes left in the game. Arizona proceeded to drive down the field, but the Texans defense had one more stop in them, as Steven Nelson batted down a pass attempt on fourth down and the Texans forced a turnover on downs for the fourth time in the game to clinch the win.
“Credit to our guys especially in those moments because none of it was too big for them,” Ryans said. “We had an opportunity and the guys made big time plays. They communicated, we had guys step in at different position and they all came up huge and communicated in those pressure moments. It was awesome to see them step up.”
The Texans moved to 6-4 on the year with the win and will continue their home stand next Sunday as they host the Jaguars (7-3), with first place in the AFC South on the line.
“Jacksonville is a great team and it’s going to be a tough one,” Stroud said. “Beating any team is hard, especially a great one so we need everyone here and bringing their energy. That helps and we appreciate it. We’re ready and excited though.”