Texans vs. Cardinals review: Dominant defense and no surprise at running back according to PFF

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at how Pro Football Focus graded the Cardinals in their win over the Texans.

A late turnover made the Arizona Cardinals 27-24 win over the Houston Texans more stressful than it had to be. Following the game, head coach Bruce Arians came out in support of his starting running back, but ProFootballFocus.com once again gives credence to the fact that the backup is outplaying the starter.

We will get into that and more in this PFF review of the Week 10 win.

Offense

RB Andre Ellington (+1.2)

For the fourth game out of seven this season in which both running backs received at least one carry, Andre Ellington out-gained Rashard Mendenhall on fewer carries. Ellington carried 11 times for 55 yards (5.0 YPC), including a 23-yard scamper.

There was also this tidbit I pulled from PFF on Tuesday:

Mendenhall ranks 51st (1.6 YAC/C), for what it's worth.

TE Rob Housler (+0.7)

Was Rob Housler's four receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown the breakout game we all have been waiting to see? Bare-bones stats say no, but the game tape says it likely was.

Outside of one missed blocking assignment seen below (because no one is safe when I have my GIF glasses on), Housler was solid in every aspect of the game. He played a well-rounded game against the Texans. Hopefully he can continue that and it wasn't just an anomaly.

RB Rashard Mendenhall (-2.3)

He will remain the starter for the foreseeable future, which is unfortunate. It's a virtual guarantee he won't be around in 2014, so there is no reason to play him this season when rookie Stepfan Taylor provides equal running ability and at least equal -- if not better -- pass-blocking ability.

Starting Ellington and playing Taylor in a complimentary role would be best, but what do I know?

Defense

DE Calais Campbell (+7.4)

Despite not recording a sack of quarterback Case Keenum on Sunday, Calais Campbell was a complete terror for the second-year leader. Campbell pressured Keenum on 10 of 48 pass-rushing opportunities (20.8%).

Talking pure pressures numbers, it was the second-most productive game of the season for No. 93. Only his Week 5 game against the Carolina Panthers (9 pressures on 43 rushes, 20.9%) was better. That game, he had two sacks, one QB hit and six hurries of Cam Newton.

OLB John Abraham (+3.0)

Another pass-rushing monster against the Texans, John Abraham officially had his two-sack performance bumped up to a three-sack day on Thursday. He was rightfully given credit for the sack you see below, which originally was awarded to defensive end Frostee Rucker.

With that third sack, Abraham is tied for the NFL lead with 6.0 sacks since Week 7. Those six sacks are a franchise record over a three-game span, according to Cardinals vice president of media relations Mark Dalton:

CB Patrick Peterson (+1.4)

It's difficult to have a positive rating when allowing two touchdowns in coverage. But that's just what Patrick Peterson did against Andre Johnson and the Texans.

Keenum targeted Peterson nine times in coverage of Johnson and held the All-Pro receiver to four receptions for 33 yards and the aforementioned touchdowns. Those two scores were things of beauty, however, and Peterson was in Johnson's pocket all afternoon, as pointed out by PFF's own Sam Monson in a brilliant piece highlighting their game-long matchup.

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