DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt get the better of Texans in 1-sided win

Oct 24, 2021, 7:14 PM | Updated: 9:23 pm

Arizona Cardinals DL J.J. Watt and WR DeAndre Hopkins leave the field after taking down the Houston...

Arizona Cardinals DL J.J. Watt and WR DeAndre Hopkins leave the field after taking down the Houston Texans 31-5 on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, in Glendale. (Twitter Photo/@JJWatt)

(Twitter Photo/@JJWatt)

GLENDALE — Even if you weren’t a big NFL enthusiast, there’s a good chance you knew the added weight that Sunday’s game carried for both defensive lineman J.J. Watt and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

After donning Houston blue for the majority of their careers, the duo took the field in Arizona red as they faced off against their former team for the first time.

And much like their time in Houston, the pair helped push their team to a win on Sunday.

Some might peg it as a revenge game of sorts, but for Hopkins, it’s just another blowout victory in the win column. As it should be.

“It was just another game to me,” Hopkins said after the game. “I know some of those guys over there. This team, we got bigger goals. We knew we needed to handle business today.

“We know what kind of team we have in this locker room. I didn’t want to make it a thing. It’s just another game to me. Go out and play my game.”

Despite a funky start to the matchup that saw the Texans take a 5-0 lead, the Cardinals had little to no trouble over the remaining two and a half quarters of action, shutting out Houston while putting up 31 points of offense.

Hopkins was right there to kick off the scoring brigade.

Staring at the 5-0 deficit in the second quarter, the Cardinals managed to find a rhythm, driving from their own 25-yard line down to Houston’s 23-yard line and setting up a short third down.

Instead of running the rock two yards for the first down, quarterback Kyler Murray opted to let it fly toward a wide open Hopkins in the back of the end zone. The ball left the signal caller’s hands and looked like a no doubter.

What looked like a touchdown turned out to be an incomplete pass as Hopkins watched the ball sailed out of the end zone, well out of his reach.

The opportunity was wasted, but not totally gone after Murray connected with Christian Kirk to move the chains on fourth down. Three plays later, Hopkins’ number was called yet again. This time, there would be no overthrowing, with Murray hitting Hopkins for the one-yard touchdown.

“Mentally that would hurt if I didn’t get him one today just because he was wide open,” Murray said. “It saved me, the fact that we could get him one that same drive, so it was good.”

Hopkins finished the game with team highs in targets (9) and receptions (7) for 53 yards and the score.

And had the Texans put up a little more of a fight, who knows what might have been for the wide receiver?

“I had a few more things dialed up that we didn’t get too, just kind of the flow of the game,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “Wanted him to get as many touches as he can but I’m glad he got into the end zone. He’s been getting into the end zone a lot and as long as he scores, he seems to be happy after the game.”

The defense, which hasn’t really needed an extra shot of motivation through seven games, got just that with Watt lining up against his former team.

He may not have blown up the stat sheet, but he still impacted the game with his high motor and leadership, adding a tackle for loss and a QB hit.

“It was a good game, and of course J.J., we wanted to do it for J.J., too,” linebacker Markus Golden said Sunday. “He got us going this week on Wednesday, first day of practice told us how much it meant to him, so we wanted to go out there and win it for him, too, and of course, D-Hop.”

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DeAndre Hopkins, J.J. Watt get the better of Texans in 1-sided win