Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud played at a level no rookie quarterback has ever been able to reach on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The No. 2 overall pick in last April’s NFL draft completed 30 of his 42 passes for an NFL-rookie-record 470 yards and five touchdowns, with no interceptions, as he led his team to a wild 39-37 victory.
Stroud capped off his masterpiece with a 15-yard game-winning strike to wide receiver Tank Dell with six seconds remaining in the game.
— NFL (@NFL) November 5, 2023
Houston trailed by 10 in the third quarter, but Stroud’s fourth touchdown pass gave his team its first lead since early in the first quarter. The Bucs scored a touchdown of their own in the final minute to retake take the lead, 37-33, setting up Stroud’s heroics.
During an on-field interview with CBS moments after the game, Stroud made sure to redirect any praise that would come his way to his Heavenly Father.
“First and foremost,” Stroud began, “I gotta give all glory and praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. … When you give your life to the Lord, He gives you opportunities and it’s what you do with it.”
After being asked about his rookie-record 470 yards passing, Stroud pointed again to God. “It’s a blessing,” he said. “… I do it for the glory of God.”
“First and foremost, I got to give all glory and praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) November 5, 2023
In his postgame press conference, the 22-year-old unashamedly reiterated his comments about his faith.
“First and foremost, I just want to give all glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” he said.
He then recounted a story from Houston’s chapel service, where he was reminded that God is worthy of worship even when things aren’t going well. “[That worship] is the true testament to faith. For me, that’s what I rely on. I couldn’t be up here — I couldn’t do anything on that field — without my Lord and Savior. He’s given me a sense of peace even when everything around me is going crazy.”
On the field, Stroud has been incredibly impressive in his first eight games as a professional. He now has 14 touchdowns and only one interception, completing 62.0% of his passes for 2,270 yards. The NFL rookie record for passing yards in a single season is 4,374 by Andrew Luck with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012.
“C.J. Stroud doesn’t look like a rookie to me,” Tampa Bay quarterback Baker Mayfield said following Sunday’s game, according to ESPN. “He’s so impressive, looks like a polished NFL quarterback. So, hats off to him.”
Sunday’s thrilling win moved the Texans to 4-4. They are winners of four of their last six and are two games behind the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC South.
Despite all the attention that his football ability has brought, Stroud is seeking to remain rooted in his faith in Christ.
“A lot of people don’t get to live the life I do,” Stroud said in a press conference after losing to the Colts in Week 2. “It’s hard, don’t get me wrong. It’s hard, but it’s a privilege, man. I’m blessed enough to wake up every day — to walk, to talk, to smell, to interact with people, to play football. These are all things we take for granted from a day-to-day basis, but I try to do my best to thank God through all that because [of] His grace and His mercy.
“He laid His life on the cross for us. I really believe that. This is bigger than just ball, and if I have to use football for my purpose — to spread the Gospel and the life of Jesus Christ — then I’ll do that. And I think that’s what God wants.”
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Later in Sunday’s press conference, Stroud mentioned his dad when discussing the support system around him. Stroud’s father was a pastor but was arrested in 2015. Stroud — who describes himself as a “follower of Christ” on X (formerly Twitter) and on Instagram — said he prays for his father’s release while also recognizing the powerful ways God has worked through the difficult situation to grow him in faith.
“I don’t want anybody to feel bad for me, but the odds have been stacked against me since I’ve been a kid. And I think God has put a special plan in my life, and I think that He’s not done with me yet,” Stroud said in his Week 2 press conference. “… I have a lot more, not even just football, but a lot more life to live to give to people.”
As his memorable rookie season continues, Stroud will seek to continue to deflect the glory for his play on the field toward God and remain thankful for all He’s done in his life.
Next up for Stroud and the Texans is a road game at the Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
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