It wasn’t a pretty start for the Arizona Cardinals against the Houston Texans. The first two offensive drives resulted in two total yards and three negative plays.
It got even worse on their third drive on the one-yard line.
Kyler Murray, on a read-option, was tackled in the endzone for a safety. A crucial part of the play is Jacob Martin tugging at Murray’s facemask, which wasn’t called. The worst part is Murray looked slow coming out to the sidelines and was transferred to the medical blue tent.
Luckily, Murray quickly returned to the bench and came out for the next offensive series. Right guard Josh Jones struggled mightily in the first two drives, allowing a sack to Kyler earlier. Center Max Garcia snapped the ball over Murray’s head as well, resulting in a mega-14 yard loss.
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The offense finally completed a 14 play drive for a touchdown in the second quarter. Former Texans’ DeAndre Hopkins exceeded his touchdown total from 2020, scoring his seventh touchdown of the season on a one-yard pass.
Murray took a beating all day and took four sacks. While the Texans were just 1-5 heading into Sunday, they were on a mission.
“They got after us pretty good,” Murray said after the game. “Hats off to them.”
Luckily for Arizona, it didn’t matter on the scoreboard. The Cardinals beat the Texans handily 31-5 and didn’t allow a single touchdown.
Arizona has now scored over 30 points in six out of their seven games this season. One new addition didn’t take long to get acclimated with his new Super Bowl contending team.
Zach Ertz Ignites
It’s the fourth Sunday in October, which means it’s National Tight Ends Day.
New addition Zach Ertz must’ve heard it was a holiday because he caught his first ball as an Arizona Cardinal. Not only was it his first catch, but it was also a one-handed grab for a first down.
Fast forward to the third quarter, Zach Ertz caught a marvelous 47-yard touchdown grab and ran for 30 yards after the catch. It also happened to be the longest touchdown catch of his career.
Ertz also made NFL history, becoming the first player in NFL history to have a touchdown catch for two different teams in back-to-back games in a season.
Remember, Ertz caught a touchdown reception as an Eagle the day before he was traded to the Cardinals against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
According to NextGenStats, Ertz had a 3.1% touchdown probablity.
Ertz finished the day with just three receptions, but his impact also led to a Hopkins touchdown that decoyed defenders in the red zone. Murray has spread the ball around consistently to his receivers this season, and that will only continue. Four receivers had over 50 yards and three of them scored touchdowns.
Murray told reporters on October 30 that Ertz and the quarterback bonded with a blink of an eye.
“I’ve only known him for a couple days, but it was one of those deals where you kind of click with a dude,” Cardinals quarterback,” said Murray. “I think our relationship should grow quickly.”
Fellow star teammate Hopkins already sees what Ertz is all about.
“You see his down the field presence. He brings that team to this team. Maxx and those guys are good but Zach’s a Pro Bowl TE.”
Even Ertz won’t blame his quarterback on a ball thrown his way in the third quarter.
“Wasn’t on Kyler at all,” said Ertz after the game. “He’s a phenomenal football player…one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever been around and I’ve only been here nine days.”
A lot of credit goes to GM Steve Keim for acquiring Ertz, for just a fifth-round pick and a project corner in Tay Gowan. It isn’t just Ertz either. The acquisitions of Hopkins, Rodney Hudson and Markus Golden have proven to be utter steals for Arizona.
Coach Kliff Kingsbury, who tested positive for COVID-19 on October 15 and missed the Cardinals’ 37-14 road victory over the Cleveland Browns two days later, cleared protocols with a negative test in the early morning of Sunday, October 24.
Six o’clock in the morning that is.
“Glad to be back,” Kingsbury after the game. “The players were awesome. They made me feel very welcome to being back.”
At the same time. Kingsbury didn’t feel like his normal self on the sidelines due to the lack of preparation.
“It felt funky. Usually, I call those plays over and over. It didn’t feel like the same rhythm. I felt more on edge than I usually do with six days of preparation.”
Kingsbury admitted to game plan for the Texans as well as their future Thursday Night opponent, the Green Packers, as well.
“I’ve been on the Packers all week and will go watch the game film here tonight.”
In a quick turn-around, the Cards will now play the Packers, who are 6-1, on October 28.