Week 15 Game Recap: Arizona Cardinals 19, Houston Texans 30
What you need to know
Arizona just could not get much going on either side of the ball, and lost their tenth game of the year largely due to costly turnovers and untimely injuries.
QB Kurt Warner was banged up early on, and despite completing all ten of his pass attempts, could not play through the injured knee and was replaced in the second quarter. Warner finished with 115 yards and a touchdown, a 20 yard scoring strike to WR Anquan Boldin that would be his final attempt of the game. Backup Josh McCown entered in relief of Warner and struggled, as he completed one of four passes for 12 yards and threw a costly interception that led to a Houston field goal. He was dealing with flu-like symptoms, and was replaced by clipboard holder John Navarre. Navarre put up solid numbers, throwing for 174 yards on 14 of 24 passing, including a 12 yard touchdown pass to WR Larry Fitzgerald. He did throw a pick, but no harm was done as his defense recovered a Texan fumble on the ensuing possession.
As usual, the Cardinals failed to get the running game going, rushing for only 39 yards on 13 carries. Marcel Shipp was the team’s leading rusher, with 28 yards on six carries.
Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald continued to be solid contributors in the passing game, no matter who was throwing them the ball. Boldin did much of his damage early, with a 20 yard score in the second quarter and 76 yards receiving in the first half, and finished with eight catches for 143 yards and a score. Fitzgerald failed to record a first half catch, but came on in the second half, totaling 85 yards on six catches, including a 12 yard touchdown grab.
LB James Darling led the defense with nine tackles and two assists, and DE Antonio Smith recorded two sacks for the game.
The Houston Texans earned their second win of the season by capitalizing on early turnovers, and taking advantage of nearly every mistake the injury plagued Cardinals made.
Trailing early in the first following an Arizona field goal, QB David Carr led his team on five straight drives that resulted in scores to give the Texans a sizeable halftime lead of 24-10. The first drive was successful largely because of a solid running game, but Carr converted two third downs on the club’s next two possessions that both led to Texan touchdowns. Aside from the two short third down conversions, the Houston signal caller had a mediocre game, finishing 22 of 33 for 150 yards, was intercepted once, and lost a fumble that led to an Arizona score. Carr could not get anything going downfield, and Houston seemed to call wideout screens on every other passing play.
The big offensive reason for the Texans win was their playmaking in the running game. With starter Domanick Davis a pre-game scratch, backup Jonathan Wells filled in admirably, with 87 yards rushing on a career high 28 carries and two touchdowns, also a career high. Both of the Wells scores came in the second quarter, the first from seven yards out and the second a three yard run. Rookie RB Vernand Morency also contributed, with a 25 yard rushing score, also in the second quarter, and finished with 32 yards on five carries.
Houston’s wide receivers didn’t get much going downfield, but not many long pass plays were called either. WR Andre Johnson led the way with seven receptions, but finished with only 51 yards. Jabar Gaffney was second on the club in receiving, with five catches for 39 yards.
DB Dunta Robinson led the Texans with six tackles and one assist, and LB Jason Babin had two sacks.
What you ought to know
|QB John Navarre, Pass: 14 - 24 - 174 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 2 - 0 - 0|
Navarre entered in relief of both starter Kurt Warner, and backup Josh McCown, and threw for 174 yards on 14 of 24 passing and hit Fitzgerald with a passing score from 12 yards out, but did throw an interception.
Warner got off to a hot start, completing all ten of his pass attempts, before leaving the game with a knee injury during the second quarter. He was hit early in the game, and was definitely bothered by the hit, as he received treatment on the sidelines. Warner was able to stay in the game long enough to connect with Anquan Boldin on a scoring strike from 20 yards out, but could not continue after the scoring drive. It was reported they would evaluate him at halftime, and apparently he was in too much pain to come back. Warner was on the sidelines for the remainder of the game, so fantasy owners still alive should monitor his status throughout the week.
McCown was feeling flu-like symptoms, and could not continue in relief of Warner after throwing for 12 yards on one of four passing, including an interception that Houston turned into a field goal.
Arrington got seven carries to Shipp’s six, but ran for only 11 yards on those carries, and also caught both balls thrown his way for four yards.
|RB Marcel Shipp, Rush: 6 - 28 - 0, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (3 targets)|
Shipp and the Cardinal running game were once again non-existent, and he finished with 28 yards on six carries. He was targeted three times in the passing game, and caught two passes for 14 yards for the game.
Ayanbadejo’s only contribution was not a positive one, as he fumbled the ball on his only catch of the day, and put to rest any comeback hopes the Cardinals had late in the fourth quarter.
Boldin led the club in targets with 14, and hauled in eight of those balls for 134 yards and a touchdown from 20 yards out. Both he and Fitzgerald continue to get the job done with a non existent running game, and it seems Boldin makes a one handed catch every week. He did leave the game briefly with an injury, but returned shortly after and did not seem bothered by it at all.
Fitzgerald did not have a catch in the first half, but came on in the second and finished with six catches for 85 yards and a 12 yard score.
McCoy caught two passes for 28 yards, and was thrown to three times for the game.
Johnson caught the only ball thrown his way for a 12 yard gain.
Swinton lost a fumble in the second quarter that Houston turned into a Wells rushing score.
Bergen caught all three balls thrown his way for 18 yards.
The Cardinals gave up 119 yards rushing on 35 carries, for a 3.4 yard average, but gave up three rushing scores for the game. Both Jonathan Wells and Vernand Morency scored on the ground, and Wells helped to keep drives alive for the Texans. Their defense was not helped by mistakes by both their offense and special teams, who had costly turnovers and put them in situations where they were defending short fields.
Arizona’s pass defense played solid, and they were able to put enough pressure on Houston QB David Carr to force a lot of short throws from the Texan signal caller, and as a result, limited Houston’s big plays downfield. Their longest pass play for the game was only 19 yards, and Andre Johnson, despite seven catches, did not have a catch for more than 11 yards. The Cardinals defensive unit did have three sacks and an interception for the game.
|QB David Carr, Pass: 22 - 33 - 150 - 0 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0|
Carr had another sub par game, throwing for 150 yards on 22 of 33 passing and turned the ball over twice, with both a fumble and interception that led to Cardinals scores. Due to a combination of bad protection and pressure from Arizona’s defensive front, most of Carr’s pass attempts came on short routes, and it seemed at least half of his throws were screens to his wideouts. While his numbers weren’t great, he did do enough to not hurt his team and help them hold on for their second win of the season.
Wells filled in for injured starter Domanick Davis and had a career high 28 carries. He responded with 87 yards and set another career high with two rushing scores. Both of his rushing scored came in the second quarter, from seven and three yards out. Wells also had one reception for 11 yards.
Morency’s contribution came early in the game, when the rookie RB took a handoff 25 yards for a score. He finished with 32 yards on five carries, and caught one pass for nine yards for the game.
Johnson was targeted 11 times, but did not get anything going downfield, as he finished with seven catches for 51 yards. His longest reception was 11 yards, and most of his catches came on short routes and screens.
Gaffney caught all five balls thrown his way, all on short routes, and finished with 39 yards receiving.
Bradford was not a big factor, with three catches for 11 yards.
Rivers was targeted five times for the game, and finished with four catches for 20 yards.
The Texans rush defense did not have much to worry about in the Cardinals’ rushing attack, but did a good job shutting their backs down when they did run the ball. For the game they gave up only 39 yards on 13 carries, for a 3.0 yard average per carry.
Houston’s pass defense did not play particularly well, allowing Arizona’s three quarterbacks to throw for a combined 301 yards on 25 of 38 passing, but did enough to capitalize on Navarre’s inexperience and hold on for the win.