HOUSTON — The Houston Texans are now winners of three straight and suddenly have the look of a playoff team following their 21-16 win over the Arizona Cardinals Sunday afternoon.
Despite finishing with a career-high three interceptions, quarterback C.J. Stroud had another solid game to lead the Texans to the win. Fans at NRG Stadium erupted with M-V-P chants for the rookie quarterback to close the first half. But while Stroud has been the star of the Texans' success, Will Anderson Jr. has quietly been just as impactful.
"Will [Anderson Jr.] has been very impactful for our defense," coach DeMeco Ryans said. "He's an impact player. Will plays the game with a relentless mindset. I love the way he gets after each and every snap. You talk about effort, you talk about him disrupting the quarterback."
Anderson finished with two tackles and a sack. But his most significant play came during the final defensive drive of the fourth quarter.
With 35 seconds left, the Cardinals were deep into the Texans' territory on 4th-and-8 when quarterback Kyler Murray tried to complete a pass to Marquise Brown. Anderson rushed up the middle for his seventh pressure of the day, and his disruption led to an inadequate pass attempt. Murray's pass was knocked down by defensive back Steven Nelson.
"He did a really nice job today, along with our entire [defensive] line," Ryans said. "You talk about a tough out with Kyler Murray – he’s not an easy guy to get down. I told the guys before we played, you're going to have to rush twice, keep rushing, keep rushing. And Will, he continues to help our defense and be the reason why we can finish out games like this."
It was fitting for Anderson to have one of his most impactful games against the Cardinals. The Texans traded with Arizona during the 2023 NFL Draft to land Anderson with the No. 3 pick.
Houston sent its No. 12 pick, No. 33 pick, a first-rounder and a third-round pick in 2024 to trade up for Anderson.
Ryans fell in love with the former Alabama prospect during their Top-30 Visit. He revealed from the first moment they met, Ryans became fond of Anderson due to his competitiveness, energy and passion. The three intangibles that helped Anderson put on a defensive show against the Cardinals.
Anderson has helped the Texans improve their record to 6-4, setting up an AFC South battle against the Jacksonville Jaguars. A win over Jacksonville will give the Texans the No. 1 spot in the division with postseason implications at stake on Nov. 26.