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Texans' QB C.J. Stroud Earns Teammates And Rivals Respect In Loss To Ravens

Despite the Houston Texans falling in their season opener against the Baltimore Ravens, rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud earned the respect of his teammates and rivals.

The Houston Texans fell short in their season opener against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday afternoon. But despite the Texans' 25-9 loss, C.J. Stroud left a good impression on his teammates and opponents.

"That guy [C.J. Stroud], he’s going to be a great quarterback coming up," Ravens' Patrick Queen said. "It’s just tough coming up here Week 1 against us as a rookie."

When Stroud stepped onto the field at M&T Bank Stadium, he walked into an unfavorable situation for a rookie quarterback. He was making his official debut behind an offensive line hampered by injuries while playing against an exceptional pass rush.

The outcome for Stroud led to 10 hits and five sacks while dealing with pressure for the entirety of the game. But as a quarterback who said he is used to getting hit, the former Ohio State prospect's goal was to get up and keep fighting. 

The first 15 minutes for Stroud was rough. The Ravens' defense limited Stroud to six passes for half a dozen yards during the first quarter. But once Stroud gained his composure in the second period, he displayed the skill set that made him a Heisman Finalist in 2022.

"[I’m] damn proud of him," running back Dameon Pierce said. "Damn good. I just wish that we could have done things as an offense to make it cleaner for him. But given the situation he was put in; I feel like he handled it very well [and] with poise. I’m ready to see him develop."


Stroud led the Texans on a 67-yard drive that consumed 8:54 early in the second quarter. He completed seven out of his eight attempts for 48 passing yards. The series created one of Stroud's best plays of the day when he fired a dart pass to wide receiver Nico Collins for 14 yards. 

The series was the first time Stroud exhibited his accuracy against the Ravens. He replicated his performance during the Texans' next drive. With 46 seconds left in the first half, Stroud found wide receiver Robert Woods for his longest completion of the day with a 19-yard pass attempt.

Each drive led by Stroud ended with a pair of field goals made by kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn.

During the final three quarters, Stroud threw for 236 yards while completing 63.1 percent of his passes. The continuous pressure Stroud faced led to quick releases, where he averaged 2.64 seconds per attempt.

"Honestly, I could have done better," Stroud said. "Just answering the bell, the next drive, the next play and just making more plays. Being a light on the team or being the cool, calm, and collected one could help a lot. 

"That is my job of being a quarterback. Keeping everybody even-keeled and trying to go to the next play as best we can. We can’t go back and get any plays. I try to do my best. But of course, I think, I can do better." 

Stroud joined David Carr as the second rookie quarterback in franchise history to start in Week 1. By finishing the game throwing 28-of-44 for 242 yards, Stroud has the highest completion percentage by a Texans rookie quarterback in their regular season debut.

His play did not lead to a Week 1 victory for the Texans. But Stroud departed his first game with more respect from his rivals and teammates.

Jadeveon Clowney, the Texans' former No. 1 pick in 2014, understands the importance of gaining his peers' respect as a rookie. He was one of eight defensive linemen who recorded a hit on Stroud. But Clowney, along with Queen, walked out of the stadium with high regard for the Texans' rookie quarterback.

"I think he has a lot of potential," Clowney said, per Brian Barefield. "You can tell, with it being his first game, he was a little nervous. But I am looking forward to seeing him improve throughout the season."