The Houston Texans fell, 31-5, to the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on Sunday.
The Texans defense scored first with a safety, but the offense struggled to find the end zone. Houston converted just 2-of-13 on third down and put up 160 total yards (118 passing, 42 rushing). Penalties also continued to plague the Texans, who were flagged eight times for 80 yards.
"It's very frustrating," Head Coach David Culley said. "We didn't block very well upfront. I'm going to go back again to penalties. We had penalties at inopportune times that killed our drives, put us in those long-yardage type of situations again and we're going to keep working to get that corrected. It's not just one particular guy, it's a combination of guys, and again, I'm going to go back to, we got to just get that stopped."
In his fifth NFL start, Davis Mills completed 23-of-32 passes for 135 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions and a 79.6 passer rating. RB David Johnson rushed for 25 yards on seven carries and caught five passes for 27 yards.
"Just tough," Mills said. "We played a good team. Obviously, their record shows it. We just got to keep finding ways to execute our offense, continue to make plays, not shoot ourselves in the foot but just keep drives going."
The Texans defense recorded four sacks and four tackles for loss. DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. had an interception and finished with a team-high nine tackles (six solo) and a pass defensed. DL Jonathan Greenard had two sacks, two quarterback hits and one pass defensed in the loss.
Murray completed 20-of-28 passes for 261 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception before Colt McCoy entered in the final minutes of the game. Former Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins and DE J.J. Watt played their first career games against Houston. Hopkins caught seven passes for 53 yards and touchdown, while Watt had a quarterback hit and tackle for loss.
After forcing a punt on the Cardinals' first two possessions, the Texans defense scored on a safety when Jacob Martin sacked Murray in the end zone on a drive that began at Houston's two-yard line. Martin was disappointed after the loss, but explained what he and his teammates must do now.
"You can't get discouraged if things aren't going your way," Martin said. "We've still got to continue to trust that process of putting in that work, that film study, week in and week out."
On the Texans next offensive series, K Ka'imi Fairbairn nailed a 53-yard field goal to cap off a five-play, 25-yard scoring drive. Houston took a 5-0 lead with 14:55 left in the second quarter.
Houston's defense held the Cardinals offense to one yard on the first three drives, but Arizona responded with a score on its next four possessions. Murray threw touchdown passes to Hopkins and WR Christian Kirk on back-to-back series as the Cardinals took a 14-5 lead.
The second touchdown drive began on a turnover. Mills fumbled on a strip sack by OLB Markus Golden, who also recovered the ball. The Cardinals converted the takeaway into seven points, six plays later. Murray threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Kirk and the Cardinals took a 14-5 lead with 2:45 left in the second quarter.
The Cardinals settled for a 31-yard field goal on their next drive after Greenard logged a sack and a pass breakup.
The Texans trailed 17-5 at halftime.
Murray threw his third touchdown pass of the day, a 47-yarder to Ertz. The Cardinals pulled away, 24-5, with 7:58 left in the third quarter.
The Texans defense stopped Murray and the Cardinals on their next two drives. Lonnie Johnson Jr. picked off Murray's pass, intended for Ertz.
Houston forced a three-and-out on the next series. Greenard sacked Murray for a loss of 10 yards on the first play and Martin batted down his pass on third down.
The Texans offense was unable to get in scoring range and the Cardinals scored on their following series on an 18-yard run by RB James Conner. Arizona pulled away with a 31-5 lead with 10:22 in the fourth quarter.
With the loss, the Texans fall to 1-6 on the season and will host the Los Angeles Rams on October 31 in Week 8. Kickoff is set for noon CT. Click here for tickets.
Check out the top photos as the Houston Texans take on the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7 of the 2021 NFL Season.