Hello, 7-0: Arizona Cardinals defense flexes in win against Houston Texans

Oct 24, 2021, 2:59 PM | Updated: 7:38 pm

(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)...

(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

The 1-5 Houston Texans gave the 6-0 Arizona Cardinals an injury scare and the opposing offensive line fits in the first half.

Yet, the Cardinals pulled away to win 31-5 on Sunday after they finally found a rhythm on offense following two punts and a safety on their first three drives.

Their defense had a full game of success.

It allowed one score, a 53-yard field goal that ended a 25-yard drive that began at Houston’s own 40-yard line. That made it 5-0 to begin the second quarter, but it was all Cardinals from there.

The Texans’ drives with rookie quarterback Davis Mills leading the offense went like so: Punt, punt, field goal, fumble, punt, end of half, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs, punt and turnover on downs.

Houston put up 160 total yards. Arizona rolled up 397 on the day.

Despite taking four sacks and even more hits, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray went 20-of-28 for 261 yards, throwing touchdowns to DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk and newcomer Zach Ertz.

There was an injury scare for Murray: On Arizona’s third possession of the then-scoreless game, Murray was tackled in the end zone with 2:58 left in the first quarter, giving Houston a 2-0 lead on the safety. Defensive end Jacob Martin grabbed the side of Murray’s facemask and nearly removed the quarterback’s helmet, and Murray went into the blue injury tent briefly after the play.

It wasn’t the first red flag regarding Arizona’s offensive line.

Murray threw for two first downs on the first two offensive plays of the game but was sacked twice and landed on a bad snap at points during Arizona’s first two possessions, both leading to punts.

After the safety on the third, the Cardinals found their balance.

They put together a 14-play drive after Houston went ahead 5-0 on a field goal. The 75 yards ended with Hopkins scoring a 1-yard touchdown against his former team that traded him to Arizona before the 2020 season.

Then, Cardinals linebacker Markus Golden with six minutes before the halftime break recorded a strip-sack of Houston quarterback Davis Mills and recovered the fumble — his second sack of the day.

The Cardinals offense followed with a 49-yard drive highlighted by a 3rd-and-24 conversion on a 41-yard catch by A.J. Green and capped by a Kirk touchdown reception to put Arizona ahead 14-5.

Arizona’s defense earned another stop and with 1:37 remaining before the half drove into the red zone to close the second quarter with a 31-yard Matt Prater field goal.

Houston produced just 83 total yards of offense in the first half as Mills went 10-of-12 for 72 yards and the run game averaged 3.1 yards per pop on nine carries.

The Cardinals responded quickly in the second half, as Murray hit Ertz for a 47-yard catch-and-run before adding a fourth-quarter touchdown to seal it.

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