Rookie connections aren’t supposed to look this good.
The Houston Texans found their sixth win of the year on Sunday, taking down the Arizona Cardinals 21-16. It was the defense that came up clutch in the end, but when rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud continues to show flashes of brilliance, people are going to pay attention.
Despite the worst game he’s had in terms of turnovers, tossing three interceptions, Stroud had his moments in Week 11—one of which was a late second-quarter touchdown to receiver Tank Dell.
The 40-yard strike put Houston up 21-10 with 26 seconds remaining in the first half. That was all the offense they would need.
Stroud finished the day completing 27-of-37 attempts for 336 yards, and two touchdowns, to offset the turnovers. He was given praise for working out of structure and finding Dell downfield, but how much of it was on the rookie passer?
NFL Films released a mic’d up clip of Houston’s huddle before the long touchdown. After the play call, Dell, a fellow rookie, gave his quarterback a heads-up.
“I’m gonna go deep,” Dell said.
On the ensuing play, Stroud found himself flushed out of the pocket. Dell recognized the scramble drill and streaked toward the end zone, culminating in a beautifully thrown ball, a diving catch, and six points for the home team.
That catch was the highlight of his day, but far from his only impact. Dell was targeted 10 times, hauling in eight catches for 149 yards—both of which were team highs. On the season, he has 42 catches for 659 yards and six scores. Not too shabby for a third-round pick.
His electric rookie campaign has continued seemingly in sync with Stroud’s. The two have proven to be a dynamic duo of Texan proportions, and it has become increasingly clear that Stroud was right to lobby for him shortly after being selected second overall this past April.
The two will be tasked with making magic happen again next Sunday in a battle for first place with the Jacksonville Jaguars.