(Houston) The bigger the games get, the better C.J. Stroud gets.
The rookie became the youngest quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game after passing for 274 yards and three touchdowns in the Houston Texans’ 45-14 win over the Cleveland Browns , SATURDAY.
“C.J. is the reason we are in this position,” Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans said. He is special, he is a special young man. A special player. He continues to shine, no matter how big the match.
“Our whole team leans on him, and he has the shoulders to carry that weight. »
At 22 years and 102 days, he dethroned Michael Vick, who was 22 years and 192 days in 2002 when his Atlanta Falcons defeated the Green Bay Packers.
Stroud is also the quickest quarterback selected in a draft to win a playoff game. He was the second overall pick at the last Goodell Tour auction. Mark Sanchez, drafted fifth in 2009, held the previous mark.
“It’s been quite a year and I thank God I get to spend at least one more week with my teammates,” Stroud said. It’s like a dream come true. »
“I’m blessed to be named in the same sentence as Michael Vick, who was my favorite quarterback growing up,” Stroud said. I hope I can win a second one. »
Stroud dismantled the Browns’ (11-7) lauded defensive unit with touchdown passes of 15 yards to Nico Collins, 76 yards to Brevin Jordan and 37 yards to Dalton Schultz.
He had already moved his team up 236 yards and joined three teammates for majors before halftime. The Texans (11-7) then led 24-14.
The defense took charge afterward, as Steven Nelson and Christian Harris returned interceptions to Joe Flacco for majors during two consecutive offensive sequences.
The Texans are the first team to reach the end zone twice on interception returns since the Seattle Seahawks on January 5, 2008.
“It was very, very big to add 14 points with what C.J. was already doing,” Nelson said. This is the icing on the cake. »
With the Texans up 45-14 and nine minutes remaining, Stroud was replaced by Davis Mills.
Returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2019, the Texans, who were recently the laughing stock of the NFL, became champions of the American Association South with the remarkable play of Stroud and the leadership of coach freshman DeMeco Ryans.
Flacco, who turned 39 three days ago, moved from the comfort of his living room to command the Browns’ offensive unit at the end of the regular season, going 4-1.
He helped the Browns advance to the playoffs for just the third time since 1999, but the second in four seasons under head coach Kevin Stefanski.
“We chose the wrong time to have a bad match,” said the pilot. This is true for all of us. The players, the coaches, the offense, the defense, the special teams. It wasn’t good enough. »
Playing in his 17th career playoff game, but his first in nine years, Flacco was unable to continue his magical run under the playoff spotlight.
He finished the game with 307 passing yards and a touchdown pass, but miscues under Texans pressure in the third quarter put the Browns in a ditch from which they were unable to dig themselves out.
“It’s really unfortunate the way things turned out and it’s hard to deal with right now,” Flacco said.
Deshaun Watson was the starting quarterback for the Texans during their last playoff run, but he played in just six games this season for the Browns before suffering a season-ending injury.