The Texans went to Phoenix for a matchup with arguably the best team in the league. Unfortunately, the Cardinals were even better than advertised, although the Texans defense had some standout moments during the 31-5 loss in Glendale. Here are my Harris Hits from Sunday afternoon's game in Arizona.
The defensive front was about as good as any defensive front could be in a 26-point loss. The Texans ended the day with four sacks, one of the best single-game outputs in a while.
DL Jon Greenard increased his team-high total to six sacks with another pair of sacks on slippery, soon-to-be-getting-MVP-votes QB Kyler Murray. That's two consecutive games with a pair of sacks, but this time, Greenard had some help with sacks from Maliek Collins and DeMarcus Walker.
Walker had a sack, two TFLs on the day and a QB hit, while Greenard had a pair of sacks, two TFLs and a pair of QB hits. The Cardinals offensive line struggled mightily dealing with nearly every defensive lineman on the field, but mostly these two. The one who really took over, though, was Collins.
I thought that Collins had the best game of his Texans career. He should've gotten credit for a pair of sacks but was amazingly penalized for playing football later in the game. He flew past the Cardinals interior and had Murray in his sights. Murray essentially gave himself up and started to go to the ground. So, he's 5-8 already, and when he started to go down, that made him about three feet tall. Collins hit him and tried to slip to the side as to not get a flag for driving Murray into the turf. The thing that's so frustrating is that Murray had escaped already a few times and it's what he's so good at doing. As a defensive player, it's that much more imperative to thoroughly bring him to the turf, and Collins heeded that demand. Then, got flagged for it. Maddening. Either way, Murray's ducking away from Collins earned the Cardinals a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down.
Later in the game, DL Jordan Jenkins was charged with a similar situation. On a third down and very long, the defensive front forced Murray from the pocket, and he sprinted for the Texans sideline. Just as he neared the Texans sideline, Jenkins grabbed for Murray's jersey, just below his nameplate. Again, getting Murray to the ground is as difficult a proposition as it is, so Jenkins did all he could to get Murray to the ground. Murray fell awkwardly and immediately, flags flew. I didn't think it was a flag at first glance. Upon replay, it wasn't even close to a flag, but it became another unwarranted first down that kept a Cardinals scoring drive alive.
DL Jacob Martin had another solid performance, tackling Murray for a safety and knocking down a pass for a pass breakup. His speed and explosiveness were an issue for the Cardinals edge protectors, but the way he handled Murray on the zone read that turned into the Texans safety was brilliant.
DL Roy Lopez Jr. had nearly 300 people in the stands watching the Arizona homeboy. His parents sat in the front row directly behind the Texans bench, and it was clear they were awfully proud of their son. Lopez continues to make an impact on this deep defensive line with a TFL and four total tackles.
DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. was Lonnie-on-the-spot on his interception, his third of the year, and he had TE Zach Ertz to thank for it too. Ertz, in his first game as a Cardinal, cut his route off across the middle but QB Murray anticipated Ertz to be down the seam. He threw to that exact spot where he expected Ertz to be, but Johnson was the only person there. Unfortunately, the offense couldn't take advantage of the takeaway.
That was one of the differences in this game. The Cardinals turned a Davis Mills fumble into a touchdown in the first half. In the second half, the Texans couldn't generate a point on two consecutive possessions that started on the Cardinals side of the 50-yard line.
It was great to see K Kai'mi Fairbairn knock home a 53-yard field goal to put the Texans in front 5-0. That seems like such a weird score, but that's what it was after his field goal. Dead center perfect and it would've been good from 60+; he hit the you-know-what out of that ball for his first 50+ yard field goal this season.
Well, there's not much else to get into on this day. The Cardinals are an exceptional football team, fast, physical and wildly talented. They deserve to be 7-0, and the Texans aren't the only team who has been victimized by Kliff Kingsbury's Cards. That said, there were plenty of moments when the offense could've bailed out a tough-minded defense but couldn't/didn't. So, it's back home to prepare for a stout Los Angeles Rams team with some of the best talent in the league next week. See ya then, everyone - thanks for reading.
The Texans 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.