Sean Pendergast

C.J. Stroud's Perfect Day Against Tampa Bay

C.J. Stroud was literal perfection on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
C.J. Stroud was literal perfection on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Photo by Eric Sauseda
It's Tuesday and there is still metaphorical smoke coming off of C.J. Stroud's record setting performance on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. C.J. Stroud didn't need to make a statement game to tell people he is a capable NFL quarterback. His body of work going into Sunday proved that already.

What he did deliver was a statement that he belongs in the NEXT tier of quarterback — among the ones who opposing teams look up at the clock after taking a late lead and say "Dammit, we left [fill in name of QB here] too much time. We're gonna lose."

Adam Schefter of summarized a handful of the things Stroud accomplished individually on Sunday, and the rookie did things in that performance that shattered rookie records and put his name alongside some all-time non-rookie greats. Take a look:
Of all the things Stroud accomplished, though, the most amazing thing to me is that he attained the maximum NFL passer rating that a quarterback can have, 158.3, in three different key areas. Yes, I know what you're saying — how can a performance with incompletions be "perfect"? Hey, all I know is a perfect rating is 158.3, and in the NFL, your rating can be perfect and the performance actually include some imperfections. I don't devise the calculus, I just use it.

Now, back to the good stuff. C.J. Stroud had a 158.3 rating in these key situations:

First down passing: 16-19, 297 yards, 4 TD, 158.3 passer rating
This was great to see. Coming into Sunday's game, Texans offensive coordinator BobbY Slowik had been among the most conservative play callers in the league on early downs, calling more running plays than just one team, the lowly Arizona Cardinals. This made zero sense, since (a) the Texans stink at running the ball, and (b) YOU HAVE C.J. STROUD! Good to see Slowik adapt with 19 first down passes, which is just five short of the total passes Stroud threw in the entire loss to Carolina in Week 8.

Second half passing: 15-19, 313 yards, 4 TD, 158.3 passer rating
Stroud actually put up big yardage numbers in the first half (157 total passing yards), but he seemed just little off, missing several easy throws to Tank Dell. In the second half, the long catch-and-run touchdown to Noah Brown seemed to ease the stress level of the offense, and open the flood gates to the onslaught that Stroud administered on a previously stout Tampa Bay defense. This was the best half I've ever seen from a Texans quarterback. It's crazy to think that the score of this game was 20-10, Bucs lead, with 12 minutes left in the third quarter.

Game winning drive passing: 5-5, 75 yards, 1 TD, 158.3 passer rating
This drive was a work of art. Great decision making, impeccable time management, and remarkable poise for a 22 year old making his eighth start of his NFL career. Let's relive the game winning touchdown one more time.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast