Kyler Murray and C.J. Stroud trade blows in Cardinals’ loss to Texans

Nov 19, 2023, 2:05 PM | Updated: Nov 20, 2023, 12:00 am

Kyler Murray runs the rock in Week 11...

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the ball during the first half of a game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on November 19, 2023 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

(Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Week 11’s matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans lived up to the hype (for the most).

Quarterbacks Kyler Murray and C.J. Stroud had a lot to do with that in Arizona’s 21-16 loss to Houston.

A look at how each fared in Sunday’s matchup:

Home cooking

Murray may have been held scoreless through the air in his 2023 debut last week, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday.

The signal caller made quick work of the Texans defense behind a 48-yard touchdown to Rondale Moore on Arizona’s first drive of the afternoon.

The ensuing drive’s first three plays didn’t translate to similar success, with Arizona going three-and-out. But Murray and the offense would respond a drive later behind a Matt Prater 57-yard field goal.

That’s not to say Murray didn’t run into some trouble early into the second quarter in the form of an interception on the first play of the drive.

At the half, Murray was 8-for-12 for 99 yards, a touchdown and a pick.

And much like the first half, Murray kicked off the second with a score.

Unlike his touchdown through the air, Murray got it done with his legs, turning on the jets on third-and-10 for a nine-yard gain before sealing the deal with a one-yard TD run a play later on fourth down to trim Houston’s lead to 21-16.

Murray’s success in Houston would run out in the fourth quarter, however, with the QB underthrowing his receivers and not getting a ton of time to operate the offense against Houston’s pass rush.

The signal caller walked out of Houston throwing for 214 yards and a touchdown to one pick on 20-of-30 passing. He also ran 51 yards and a score on seven carries.

“Reps with his teammates in a new system, it’s going to continue to improve,” head coach Jonathan Gannon told reporters postgame. “He made some big time plays today and just like everybody, I’m sure he wants a couple back, but I thought he played well.”

The most glaring part of Murray’s afternoon came late in the fourth quarter when he and the offense failed to capitalize on a pair of interceptions from Stroud.

Not once did Arizona score following a turnover despite having three chances throughout the afternoon.

“Wasn’t enough good,” Murray told reporters postgame. “Yes, we made some plays, but just felt like the defense, they did what they needed to do, and we didn’t hold up our end of the bargain on our side.

“It was frustrating. It felt like we had too many opportunities not to win that game.”

Striding Stroud

Stroud and Houston’s offense meanwhile didn’t have the same kind of start as Arizona, turning the ball over on downs on their first drive of the day.

The rookie QB wasn’t held down for long, leading a five-play, 61-yard scoring drive that ended with a 20-yard touchdown to tight end Dalton Schultz on the ensuing drive.

The Texans rode that momentum into their next offensive showing, churning out 64 yards on nine plays before running back Devin Singletary found paydirt on an 11-yard scamper.

But much like Murray, Stroud couldn’t keep the ball out of harm’s way through two quarters, tossing a red-zone interception Jalen Thompson’s way on Houston’s fourth drive of the day.

And while Murray scored first in the half, it was Stroud that bookended the first two quarters behind a 40-yard strike to wide receiver Tank Dell.

After a half of action, Stroud had completed 18-of-24 passes for 259 yards and two scores to one interception.

But much like Murray, Stroud ran into his own set of issues in the second half in the form of a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions that left the door open for an Arizona comeback.

Despite being held scoreless in the final two quarters of action, Stroud — who ended with 336 yards and two scores to three interceptions on 27-of-37 passing — and the Texans did enough to hang on for the win.

“Win or lose, I was hoping to be able to talk to him just because he’s a young guy and I’m happy to see what he’s doing,” Murray on his postgame interaction with Stroud. “But just to be able to share that moment, obviously, it’s cool.

“Wish we would’ve won the game, but I’m happy to see the success he’s having.”

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