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Stroud throws for 306 yards, two TDs to lead Texans over Steelers 30-6; Pickett leaves with injury

HOUSTON (AP) — C.J. Stroud has thrown for the second-most yards by a rookie through his first four games in NFL history.

While happy that his hard work is paying off, he’s looking for much more.

“For me, it’s just the beginning,” Stroud said.

Stroud threw for 306 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Houston Texans to a 30-6 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday.

Stroud has thrown for 1,212 yards, which is second only to Cam Newton, who had 1,386 in his first four games for Carolina in 2011.

It’s the second straight win for the Texans (2-2) and their first at home since beating the Chargers on Dec. 26, 2021.

Stroud took it personally that the team hadn’t won a home game in almost two years and had a message for fans after ending that dismal streak.

“Y’all deserve to feel special,” he said of the fans. “Y’all deserve to root the Texans on. Not winning (at home) since 2021, that ain’t flying with anybody in this building.”

Houston’s 24-point win marked its largest margin of victory since a 57-14 win over Tennessee on Oct. 1, 2017.

Stroud, the second overall pick in the draft, continued his strong start and he threw a TD pass to get things going in a first half where the Texans built a 16-0 lead.

Sunday was his second 300-yard passing game, he has thrown six touchdown passes and set an NFL rookie record with 151 pass attempts without an interception.

He’s the first rookie since the merger with 250 yards, two TD passes and no interceptions in three straight games.

“Dude is ballin’,” Houston receiver Nico Collins said. “The work he puts in every day, you can tell. It shows up in prime time and it’s only going to get better for him.”

Kenny Pickett threw for 114 yards with an interception and struggled to move the offense before leaving late in the third quarter with a knee injury.

The loss ends a two-game winning streak for the Steelers (2-2) and will likely increase the pressure on third-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada after another subpar offensive performance.

Mitch Trubisky threw for 18 yards after Pickett left.

“We’ve got to make some changes,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “That was an ugly product we put out there today. We’re not going to do the same things and hope for a different outcome. We’ll put those changes in place in our preparation this week.”

Tomlin said he wasn’t sure of the extent of Pickett’s injury and that they’d know more later in the week.

The Steelers scored six points in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 10 before the Texans used a little trickery to pad the lead.

Stroud handed the ball off to running back Devin Singletary, who tossed a 6-yard pass to Dalton Schultz to make it 23-6 with 11 minutes to go.

Stroud found Nico Collins on a 52-yard touchdown pass with about 3½ minutes left to push the lead to 30-6. Collins had seven receptions for a career-high 168 yards and two touchdowns.

T.J. Watt entered the game leading the NFL with six sacks, but he and the rest of the Steelers weren’t able to get to Stroud and finished with zero sacks.

“We were out of gaps,” Watt said. “We didn’t tackle in the backfield, and that combination leads to what you saw out there today.”

Chris Boswell got the Steelers on the board with a 35-yard field goal early in the third that made it 16-3.

Stroud was flagged for intentional grounding on Houston’s next drive to force a punt.

Najee Harris made a 32-yard catch on third-and-4 to get the Steelers to the 8-yard line. But their drive stalled after that, and they settled for a 23-yard field goal to make it 16-6.

The Steelers went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Houston 33 and their next drive. But Pickett was sacked by Jonathan Greenard to give the Texans the ball back.

Pickett was injured on the play and didn’t return.

The Texans took an early 7-0 lead when Stroud threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Collins on their first drive.

Steven Nelson intercepted Pickett on Pittsburgh’s first possession to give Houston the ball right back. The Texans took advantage of the turnover when Kaʻimi Fairbairn made a 36-yard field goal late in the first quarter.

Houston pushed the lead to 13-0 when Fairbairn added a 38-yard field goal with about 12 minutes left in the second quarter.

A 39-yard field goal by Fairbairn as time expired in the second quarter left the Texans up 16-0 at halftime.

INJURIES

Steelers DT DeMarvin Leal sustained a concussion in the fourth quarter. … T Dan Moore hurt his knee in the first quarter. … TE Pat Freiermuth left in the third quarter with a hamstring injury. … Houston LT Laremy Tunsil missed a third straight game with a knee injury. … OL Kendrick Green hurt his knee in the fourth quarter.

‘WATT’ AN HONOR

J.J. Watt was inducted into the Texans’ Ring of Honor on Sunday.

“I’m back with all my family,” Watt said. “It feels like home. I just love it.”

The defensive end became the third person to be put in the Ring of Honor during the halftime ceremony, joining receiver Andre Johnson and the late Bob McNair, who founded the team. Watt was joined by wife Kealia, 11-month-old son Koa, his parents and brother Derek Watt for the event.

UP NEXT

Steelers: Host Baltimore next Sunday.

Texans: Visit Atlanta next Sunday.

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