“We knew today was going to be a tough battle and I’m just excited how we came through it,” said Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans. “Our guys fought until the end and I’m really proud of them for not blinking in clutch moments."
The Texans defense has stepped up in critical moments this year.
They’ve led Houston to wins in important spots and along with the offense kept the Texans in playoff contention, and over the past few weeks they have really come alive.
But none of those moments have amounted to the performance the Texans defense put together Sunday, as Houston kept the Denver Broncos offense in check and came out with a 22-17 win in a critical AFC matchup.
“We knew today was going to be a tough battle and I’m just excited how we came through it,” said Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans. “Our guys fought until the end and I’m really proud of them for not blinking in clutch moments. We made plays and stepped up on defense. It’s a credit to the defense. Our guys showed the type of football we can play today.”
Houston’s defense stepped up early and often throughout the entire game. The Texans made a stop on Denver’s first drive and got the ball back for Houston in good field position for the Texans offense to start off the right way. The offense did the rest, driving into Denver territory before kicking a field goal and taking the lead early in the first quarter. Houston’s defense didn’t allow a point for most of the first half and Stroud and the offense took advantage, building a lead with another touchdown late in the first quarter on a Dameon Pierce 3-yard run after getting into the redzone off a big play from CJ Stroud to Nico Collins, before adding a field goal in the second quarter to make things 13-0. Denver’s offense finally got on the board late in the half, kicking a 34-yard field goal to trim Houston’s lead to 10. Houston ha a chance at a late drive in the half but weren’t able to do anything with it as Houston went into the locker room leading 13-3.
“We keep getting better and that’s what you need out of team,” Stroud said. “You don’t want these games to always be close, but the Denver Broncos are a great team and for us to step up and get this win was huge. The NFL is a hard league. We just have to keep getting better and learning from our mistakes because this season isn’t over. We want to stay resilient and keep making a push.”
Houston came out of the locker room and added a field goal on their first drive of the half, but the Broncos responded and got back to a one score game on a big 45-yard pass from Russell Wilson to Cortland Sutton midway through the third quarter. Denver got the ball back with a chance to take the lead, but Derek Stingley came up with his third interception in three games giving Houston the ball deep in Denver territory to start the fourth quarter and took advantage, finding the endzone on a 3-yard pass from Stroud to Collins, increasing the Houston lead to 22-10. Denver came back to score on a 1-yard Wilson quarterback sneak and the Texans couldn’t answer back, having to punt. Stingley bailed the Houston offense out again though, coming down with an interception and getting the ball back, but the Texans couldn’t get past midfield and were again forced to punt. Denver drove all the way down the field with a chance to tie in the final seconds, but the defense came up big one final time and Jimmie Ward intercepted a third and goal pass in the endzone to give the Texans a key win that greatly increased the teams playoff chances.
Houston will be on the road next, as they face the Jets before traveling again to take on the Titans, as the Texans have a chance to put a winning streak together heading into the final weeks of the season.
“This is the NFL every week,” Ryans said. “These games are going to come down to those final small moments, most games are going to be within a score so it’s how you operate when that’s the case. Our guys have gotten a lot better with handling that and finding a way to win. They kept calm, executed and did what they needed to do in those moments today and that’s what we need going forward as well.”