QB Stroud continues to shine for Texans, leads another game-winning drive

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HOUSTON (AP) — Another week, another game-winning drive by C.J. Stroud.

The rookie quarterback led a six-play, 55-yard drive, capped by a 38-yard field goal to lift the Houston Texans to a 30-27 win over Cincinnati on Sunday.

That performance came after he finished a 75-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to give the Texans a 39-37 victory over Tampa Bay last week.

The second overall pick is the only rookie quarterback in the past 40 years to lead game-winning drives in the final two minutes in two straight games.

“The calmness starts for him in that he’s played in a lot of big games at Ohio State,” coach DeMeco Ryans said. “He’s been under the big lights before … and he’s made big plays. He doesn’t get wide-eyed when the moment comes. He understands that: ’I believe in my teammates, I believe in myself, and I believe in the O-line that is protecting me and I know I’m going to make plays.’”

He threw for 356 yards and a touchdown and overcame three turnovers to give the Texans (5-4) their most wins in a season since going 10-6 in 2019.

“It’s impressive to see a young kid make mistakes and grow from it in the same game,” Ryans said.

Stroud ranks second in the NFL with 2,626 yards passing and has thrown 15 touchdown passes with just two interceptions. He’s the only quarterback in NFL history to have at least 2,500 yards passing, 15 TD passes and fewer than five interceptions in his first nine games.

WHAT’S WORKING

The Texans had a season-high 188 yards rushing Sunday after managing just 53 yards a week before.

Houston has been without starter Dameon Pierce for the past two games and Devin Singletary struggled last week in his first start in his place.

Singletary, who had 13 carries for 26 yards against Tampa Bay, was great Sunday to carry the running game. He set career highs with 30 carries for 150 yards and scored on a 6-yard run.

Ryans said the success in the running game was a team effort.

“Our O-line has been playing well for the past couple of weeks,” he said. “It was even more evident (Sunday) with how they were moving the defense off the line of scrimmage, and we were able to create lanes for Singletary to hit.”

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The Texans committed seven penalties for 50 yards Sunday, giving them 535 yards of penalties this season, which is the sixth most in the NFL. Receiver Robert Woods had a penalty for illegal touching that negated a touchdown in the third quarter Sunday and Denzel Perryman was called for pass interference in the end zone to give Cincinnati a first down at the 1 in the fourth that led to a TD on the next play.

STOCK UP

K Matt Ammendola. Houston signed him to the practice squad Tuesday, and he was promoted to the active roster Saturday when Ka’imi Fairbairn went on injured reserve with a quadriceps injury. He made field goals of 45 and 22 yards Sunday before making the game-winning 38-yarder as time ran out in his first action of the season. He hadn’t attempted a field goal since Oct. 16, 2022.

“(I was) calm and confident,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to be free out there. Whatever happens, happens, but it felt good.”

STOCK DOWN

Woods had just one reception for 15 yards in his return after missing two weeks with a foot injury.

INJURIES

Rookie LB Henry To’oTo’o could return this week after sitting out against the Bengals recovering from a concussion. … Leading receiver Nico Collins sat out Sunday with a calf injury and it’s unclear if he’ll be back this week.

KEY NUMBER

3. DT Sheldon Rankins had a career-high three sacks Sunday. He’s the sixth Texans player to have three sacks in one game and the first since J.J. Watt did it on Sept. 23, 2018.

NEXT STEPS

The Texans host the Cardinals on Sunday in the first of three straight home games where they’ll try to win three games in a row for the first time since a nine-game winning streak in 2018.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl