The Houston Texans have a winner with CJ Stroud.
The rookie quarterback stunned the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, leading a six-play, 70-yard touchdown drive in 40 seconds to secure a 39-37 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He hit Tank Dell for a 15-yard touchdown with six seconds remaining to cap a frantic final quarter that saw the Texans lean on a running back to kick a field goal.
The touchdown pass capped a historic day for Stroud, who torched the Bucs for 470 passing yards and five touchdowns. The passing total is the most ever by a rookie quarterback.
Stroud’s game-winner came after Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield led a 10-play 61-yard touchdown drive to give the Bucs the lead with 46 seconds remaining. The Tampa Bay touchdown was in response to a go-ahead field goal by Texans running back Dare Ogunbowale.
RB DareOgunbowale delivers go-ahead field goal
The Texas lost kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn to a quad injury in the first half forcing them to change their game plan. The injury prompted head coach DeMeco Ryans to go for two points following subsequent touchdowns. But when it came down to a chance to take a lead or gamble on fourth down late in the game, Ryans called on Ogunbowale.
The backup running back handled kickoff duties following Fairbairn’s injury. Then with 8:48 left in a 30-30 game, Ryans sent him out for a 29-yard field goal on fourth-and-goal from the Tampa Bay 11-yard line.
Ogunbowale delivered, sending his kick inside the left upright to give the Texans a 33-30 lead.
The field goal was the first by a non-kicker in a regular season game since https://twitter.com/FieldYates/status/1721270067495620691 for the Miami Dolphins in 2004. It helped ensure that Stroud’s record day on offense didn’t go to waste.
Bucs respond with late go-ahead TD
Both teams traded punts following Ogunbowale’s field goal before the Bucs delivered what looked like a game-winning touchdown drive. Tampa Bay started its go-ahead drive at its own 39-yard line then faced third-and-23 after an eight-yard loss and a false start. But Mayfield hit Trey Palmer over the middle to set up fourth-and-two.
The Bucs converted the fourth down on a Mayfield scramble, eventually setting a 15-yard strike in the end from Mayfield to tight end Cade Otton.
The score gave the Bucs a 37-33 lead with 46 seconds remaining, setting Stroud up for his last-minute heroics.
Other than a spike to stop the clock, Stroud completed all five of his pass attempts on Houston’s game-winning drive. As he’s been for much of the season, fellow rookie Dell was Stroud’s most trusted target.
Facing second-and-10 at the Tampa Bay 41-yard line with 16 seconds remaining, Stroud looked deep down the left sideline to a sprinting Dell who’d found a gap in the Buccaneers zone. Dell secured the catch then dragged his left to stay in bounds for a 26-yard gain.
Stroud hit Dell for the game-winning touchdown on the next play.