The Arizona Cardinals, once again, prove they haven’t given up on the 2023 season no matter the opponent, nor on their Quarterback.
But with under 2 minutes to go and needing a touchdown they fell short on 4th down against a cover zero blitz by the Texans to seal the win for the Texans.
Winners? Texans. And Arizona’s brief win came back to a negative in that column—who else ended up winning and losing?
#1. Winner - Gannon & Rallis’s defensive effort
C.J. Stroud had been in the MVP candidacy and showed out in the first half, putting up some 21 points and 333 yards in the first half.
The second half? 86 total yards.
They forced two end zone interceptions of C.J. Stroud and another one for more INT’s than he’s thrown ALL SEASON LONG. The rough first half but a great gameplan in the second half kept Arizona in position to win the game.
#2. Loser - Marco Wilson’s War
Man...if there’s been one guy whose stock had been improving it was Wilson and unfortunately he had the trifecta of mistakes: beat deep in coverage, flag for penalty and questionable effort in getting some guys to the ground.
He returned to being a bit of a liability for Arizona.
Part of me wanted to put Kyzir White and Antonio Hamilton here, but Ham caught an interception on what might be his final snap this season and both were overshadowed by Wilson’s struggles for Arizona.
#3. Winner - Greg Dortch
All he does is make catches and the most of his opportunity. Rondale Moore had the deep ball TD but it was Dortch who led the team in receiving with 6 catches on 8 targets for 76 yards including a 31 yard scramble.
He’s been the 4th wide receiver on the team and is too small to be a full-time blocker but man...he needs to get more snaps.
#4 Loser - The Referees, Breh
How in the world that call went from looking like Arizona was going to get the ball to it being a Texans turnover is beyond me.
The referees had some decent calls on the day (for example, that “offsides that wasn’t”) as the Cardinals.
Fortunately as the kids say “ball don’t lie” and the Texans didn’t get a TD but Arizona grabbed a pick and it was run back to about where the punt return would have ended up anyway.
#5. Winner - Kyler’s healthy legs
Murray broke free and when the game was on the line, he ran the ball on 3rd and goal (from a LONG ways away) to running it in on 4th and goal (taking a shot) and almost got the 2 point conversion as well.
He’s got most Cardinals fans feeling like they should have won today’s game, and maybe in the long run, Murray looking like his old self might mean you lose the battle against the Texans...but may win the war.
#6. Loser - The offensive operation as a whole w/ Kyler
Arizona had the ball and opportunities to win the game. Misses on 4th and 2, some poorly timed snaps on the road and through it all Murray still had a chance to win the game.
If Arizona had kicked 1-2 FGs earlier they probably tie or win today’s game but in the end the Texans blitzed, deflected passes and forced Murray’s pass away on 4th down.
With that, there’s questions that abound. Is it the offensive line and pass protection/upgrading the line in addition to Paris Johnson? Or is Kyler’s ability and height capping some of what teams can use to defend him?
Long as he has his legs he’s a threat but Arizona’s going to either see him make improvements in these plays or they’ll see him struggle to lift this team above their lowly standing like this week...rather than lift them above the Falcons.
My take? I’d love to see Kyler improve but also get a better pocket as the Texans’ early start turned into Kyler needing to run to make plays and that’s something that can’t be fixed just with another WR or a Marvin Harrison Jr.
Gotta build the lines regardless. Cardinals got stuffed in the second half far too often.
TE Elijah Higgins’ penalty negated a Kyler Murray rush that showed just how back he really is, and there’s no doubt that his legs have helped carry Arizona.