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Special teams prove monumental in Cardinals’ three-point victory

Rob Housler caught his first career touchdown pass.

Matt Shaughnessy returned his first fumble for a touchdown.

Andre Roberts made his first trip to the end zone in 2013.

Todd Bowles’ defense allowed seven points or less in the second half for the fifth time this season.

John Abraham recorded two sacks and forced the fumble that led to Shaughnessy’s six-point return.

Frankly, the Arizona Cardinals had a little bit of everything working in their 27-24 victory over the Houston Texans at University of Phoenix Stadium, but no more so than on special teams.

Amid all of the individual highlights Sunday, Amos Jones’ trio of Dave Zastudil, Jay Feely and Justin Bethel once again proved to be a model of consistency for Arizona.

Zastudil averaged 43.8 on his five punts and nailed two inside the Texans’ one-yard line. Houston failed to score on either of the ensuing possessions, and actually gave Arizona great field position on the drive that led to Robert Housler’s second quarter touchdown catch.

Speaking of the second quarter, Bethel, the team’s special teams extraordinaire, single-handedly changed the complexion of the contest with his block of Randy Bullock’s 40-yard field goal attempt to end the half. It was Bethel’s second block of the season, and the 16th recorded by the Cardinals since 2008.

More importantly with only three points separating the two teams after 60 minutes of play, Bethel’s block proved to be the difference in the margin.

Also making his mark in Sunday’s win was Feely. The Cardinals kicker tied the game at 17 with a 35-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter, and then put them on top for good with a conversion from 21 yards out near the end of the frame.

The 37-year-old has now made 15 straight kicks dating back to the team’s 27-24 loss at St. Louis in Week 1.

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