Houston Texans rookie phenom C.J. Stroud’s first game in the playoffs was one to remember, especially in the franchise and NFL record books.
There was doubt from some as to how Stroud would perform at home on Saturday against the Cleveland Browns, who were led by veteran signal-caller Joe Flacco, a quarterback with a Super Bowl win under his belt and multiple playoff wins.
But Stroud came out firing, as he has all season, and set the Texans franchise record for most touchdowns thrown in a playoff game – in the first half.
Stroud had three touchdown passes, finding Nico Collins, Dalton Schultz and Brevin Jordan, and a total of 260 yards to pull ahead, 24-14, at the half against one of the best defenses throughout the regular season.
Stroud finished the game with 274 yards on 16-for-21 through the air as the second-half storyline was Flacco throwing back-to-back pick-sixes, which led Stroud to simply hand the ball off to running back Devin Singletary to kill the clock.
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When the final whistle blew in the blowout 45-14 victory, Stroud became the youngest quarterback to ever win an NFL playoff game, beating out the first overall pick of the 2001 NFL Draft, Michael Vick. Stroud is 90 days younger than Vick was at the time.
Stroud’s three touchdown passes also tied the single-game record for an NFL rookie.
Overall, Stroud continues to have a historic rookie campaign that continues to turn heads, further cementing the fact that Houston’s rebuild has been fast-tracked because of his performance under first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans.
He is the fourth rookie quarterback to be taken in the first round to win a playoff game, too, joining the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Mark Sanchez and Flacco.
Stroud threw for 4,108 yards with 23 touchdowns against five interceptions in 15 games for the Texans this season. He set the rookie record for passing yards in a single game with 470 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while tying the single-game touchdowns record with five in that contest.
The Texans may still have doubters moving into the Divisional Round, with the Texans set to play the No. 1 Baltimore Ravens if the No. 2 Buffalo Bills take down the No. 7 Pittsburgh Steelers.
But if he didn’t prove it already during the regular season, Stroud certainly made a huge statement in his first playoff game, proving that he and the Texans cannot be taken lightly.