Texans OT Laremy Tunsil erased Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett in wild card win

One of the biggest matchups heading into the Houston Texans’ wild card game against the Cleveland Browns was between offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and edge rusher Myles Garrett.

Tunsil had thwarted Garrett in the past, but there was no guarantee he could stop the Defensive Player of the Year candidate in the playoffs, especially after he left the game briefly with a knee injury.

But neither the different game situation nor the injury stopped Tunsil from shutting Garrett down again. The Pro Bowl tackle allowed just one pressure and no sacks in 12 matchups with Garrett, according to Next Gen Stats.

Tunsil’s performance helped quarterback C.J. Stroud complete 76.2% of his passes for 274 passing yards and three touchdowns, mostly in the first half. Stroud also wasn’t sacked at all in the 45-14 win.

What Tunsil accomplished wasn’t lost on Stroud, who credited his left tackle  with helping him build confidence so early in his career as one of the best players in the NFL.

“Laremy is a top player in this league,” Stroud said after the game. “Laremy is a dog. He was the first person to contact me after I got drafted. I don’t know what he seen, but he seen something special in me and always let me know. That instilled a lot of confidence in me.

“He’s a Pro Bowl-er every year. You see him going against some of the top defensive ends and holding it down. I’m super appreciative of him. He’s a brother. I can ask him for anything. He’s always there for me, and I’m always there for him.”

Part of the reason the Texans were so vastly outplayed by this same Browns team three weeks ago was because of the play of the offensive line. Case Keenum – who played for the concussed Stroud – was sacked three times in the second quarter, which helped Cleveland build its early lead and eventually win.

That didn’t happen against the Browns this time, which can be attributed to Tunsil shutting down one of the best pass rushers in the NFL as well as the rest of the line playing up to their individual tasks.

“We knew that was the key to victory – that we needed to block well up front,” Stroud added, “and we did that.”

Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans couldn’t say enough good things about Tunsil after the game, either. Ryans noted how consistently good Tunsil has been against the best defensive players in the league and how it helped Stroud develop as a rookie passer.

“He looked forward to that matchup, and he stands up time and time again. He pushed through there, struggling, fighting through injury, and still battles,” Ryans said after the game. “When you have a left tackle who can do that, that allows C.J. [Stroud] to shine, that allows us to get the ball off. It all starts with protection, and it all starts with ‘L.T.’ doing a tremendous job against Myles [Garrett].”

What comes next for Tunsil and the Texans remains to be seen and will be entirely dependent on who wins the Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh Steelers game.

If Buffalo wins, Houston will head to Baltimore to face the Ravens. That means a matchup with either Jadeveon Clowney or Roquan Smith – two Pro Bowlers in their own right. And if the Steelers win, the Texans will play the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium and face Chris Jones and George Karlaftis on the defensive line.

Either matchup would be a difficult one, but Tunsil has proven he can go toe-to-toe with the best defensive lineman or pass rushers in the NFL.

Story originally appeared on Texans Wire