Bill O'Brien's NFL debut ended in a disappointing 32-0 preseason loss in Arizona filled with penalties (13 for 126 yards) and two early interceptions. The Texans trio of quarterbacks were unable to jumpstart the offense which was without starters Arian Foster and Andre Johnson.
"I told the team we're all in it together," O'Brien said after the game. "It's the first preseason game. There's no where to go but up from where we are over there. Tonight too many penalties, turnovers, couldn't get off the field on third down, couldn't get a kickoff return past the 15-yard line. We're going to get back to work tonight. We've got a big week with Atlanta coming in here."
Arizona scored back-to-back touchdowns on its first two drives and added a field goal to score 17 points in the first quarter. The Texans defensive starters played just one quarter while Ryan Fitzpatrick played the entire first half of Saturday night's game. Backups Case Keenum and Tom Savage each played a quarter in the second half. Mike Thomas led the receivers with four catches for 40 yards on the day.
Jadeveon Clowney made his NFL debut at outside linebacker and contributed a tackle for loss of five yards. J.J. Watt, who remained in the game for the entire first quarter, sacked Carson Palmer on the second play of the game for a loss of seven yards. Nose tackle Jerrell Powe recorded the Texans' second sack of the night, taking down Cardinals quarterback Logan Thomas for a 6-yard loss in the third quarter.
Fitzpatrick and the Texans offense struggled in the first half, with drives ending in two turnovers and three punts. The Texans were unable to get a first down until their third series of the game. Fitzpatrick threw two picks in the first half, under center with both the first and second units during the game. He finished the day completing just 6 of 14 passes for 55 yards and two interceptions.
"I think it was good to get out there in a live game, didn't really get hit all that much, kind of knock the rust off a little bit, go against a different squad, guys you haven't been seeing every day in training camp; In that sense it was good," Fitzpatrick said. "In terms of the execution and the turnovers and everything, obviously not what we wanted out there tonight."
Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton both threw for touchdowns while Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro added was 3-for-3 in field goals from 32, 28, and 25 yards. Palmer completed 5-of-5 passes for 84 yards and a score. Stanton was 11-of-17 for 152 yards with the Cardinals' second touchdown of the day.
Carson Palmer led the Cardinals to an early 7-0 lead on his first and only series. Despite a J.J. Watt sack on the second play, Palmer connected with Larry Fitzgerald on a 7-yard touchdown pass at the end of a 79-yard drive.
Drew Stanton replaced Palmer on Cardinals' second offensive series and scored the Cardinals second touchdown of the day. Stanton's pass intended for Jaron Brown resulted in a pass interference call on Brandon Harris, moving the ball 39 yards. Brown went on to score the Cardinals second touchdown of the day, extending Arizona's lead to 14 with 3:50 remaining in the first quarter.
Following a three-and-out on his first drive, Fitzpatrick's second chance to score ended in a turnover. His pass, intended for rookie tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz, was intercepted by cornerback Antonio Cromartie. Arizona converted the turnover into three points, following a 32-yard field goal by Catanzaro.
Houston trailed 20-0 at halftime.
The Texans' running game was the lone bright spot in the first half, according to head coach Bill O'Brien. Houston had 77 rushing yards while Arizona's backs were held to 15 yards. Johnathan Grimes led with ten rushes for 39 yards on the day, while rookie Alfred Blue ran for 14 yards on his first-ever NFL carry in the second quarter.
Case Keenum entered the game in the third quarter but was unable to get the Texans in scoring range. He finished with a 76.2 passer rating, completing 3-of-5 passes for 29 yards, including a 15-yard pass to wide receiver EZ Nwachukwu.
"I have to go look at the film and see what I can do better," Keenum said. "Obviously, the penalties, our pre-snap penalties. Those are most of the time on the quarterback and I take responsibility for those. That's part of managing the game. There is every little play that I am going to nitpick and go back and look at the throws, the checks, and the reads."
Rookie quarterback Tom Savage took over in the final quarter of the game. Savage completed two of three passes for 14 yards. He was sacked twice for a loss of 16 yards, including one for a safety with just 1:28 remaining in the game.
The Texans will face the Atlanta Falcons next Saturday and will hold joint practices on August 13 and 14.
- Making their debuts for the Texans were WR Joe Adams, OLB Jason Ankrah, RB Alfred Blue, K Chris Boswell, ILB Max Bullough, T Tyson Clabo, S Chris Clemons, OLB Jadeveon Clowney, RB Tim Cornett, TE Anthony Denham, C James Ferentz, TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, OLB Quentin Groves, CB Andre Hal, OLB Paul Hazel, G Bronson Irwin, CB Travis Labhart, S Kendrick Lewis, NT Ricardo Mathews, FB Toben Opurum, DE Jeoffrey Pagan, NT Jerrell Powe, OLB Lawrence Sidbury, T Xavier Su'a-Filo, DE Julius Warmsley
- Captains for the Texans were LT Duane Brown, P Shane Lechler, C Chris Myers and DE J.J. Watt
- Houston won the toss and deferred. Arizona elected to receive to start the game.