Texans Lose A Close One to Falcons: Six Points
There are plenty of bright spots in Houston's 21-19 loss to Atlanta if you look closely
A two-point, 21-19 defeat at the hands of the Falcons leaves a bitter taste, but let’s look at the positives:
The Falcons are built similarly to the Texans, but they’re three years on their plan of building a ball-control offense and physical defense. Despite this, the Texans fought back and almost won a road battle against a team with its back to the wall. That says something.
The Falcons left the middle of the field open, and TE Dalton Schulz took advantage. We’re really starting to see him assert himself, and this is going to make an immeasurable difference for QB C.J. Stroud if the two can develop chemistry.
For the second time this season, we saw Colts QB Anthony Richardson suffer an injury. Meanwhile, Carolina’s Bryce Young has already missed a game. Stroud has not, however, and you have to credit his toughness (especially early in the season when the Ravens and Colts teed off on him) as well as offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik’s game plans, which don’t expose him to needless punishment.
(Photo: Houston Texans)
2. The Falcons came prepared to protect the edges. That tells me two things. They were very wary of Stroud’s mobility, and they were respectful of Houston’s receivers (they tried to take the flats away). Houston’s receiving corps is adept at making something happen after the catch, and defensive coordinators are noticing this.
3. It was great to see the Texans mixing in the blitz today. As we’ve discussed previously in this space, their secondary has held up well this season, giving defensive coordinator Matt Burke the flexibility to send his linebackers. Hopefully this becomes a bigger piece of defensive strategy going forward.
4. Falcons QB Desmond Ridder threw for 329 yards today, but credit Burke for employing eight- and nine-man fronts to slow RBs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier and make Atlanta beat Houston with the run, which they did, whipping a tired Texans defense in the second half. Sometimes, you just have to tip your cap to the opponent.
5. Given the way this season has started, it’s amazing how clean the offensive line has kept Stroud, by and large, for the last three weeks. Obviously, part of that is owed to the return of OT Laremy Tunsil, but the line has pulled together. That cohesiveness doesn’t come overnight, but it seems to be building.
(Photo: Houston Texans)
6. You see three field goals in the first half and the Texans going 1 for 3 on TDs in the red zone, and you think Houston isn’t finishing, but that doesn’t take into account how coolly Stroud motored the team down the field in the two-minute drill at the end of the second half. It was tough to get only a field goal, but at least they got points. This is the mark of a seasoned QB. Again, the Texans took a player with lots of big-game experience, and it’s translated quickly into results. There’s no way the team could have expected to protect the ball in record-setting ways this season, but that’s as good a reason as any that they’re 2-3 and have been competitive in all but one game.