The Arizona Cardinals opened their 2014 pre-season schedule with a convincing 32-0 win over the Houston Texans Saturday night at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
The Cards jumped out to 20-0 halftime lead and coasted to the easy victory.
Here are five things we learned (granted, it’s pre-season) in the win.
1. Perfect Palmer: Carson Palmer’s one drive ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald to give the Red Birds a lead they’d never lose. He finished 5-5 for 84 yards and was sacked once. He spread the ball around to four different receivers and looked decisive in his reads. It’s clear the light has come on for CP3 in head coach Bruce Arian’s offense and because of it look to see more packages this season, including no-huddle looks. “Really, really great to come out and see us execute,” Palmer said. “That’s what we wanted to get out of tonight.”
2. Valley Fever: Saturday’s other starting quarterback didn’t fare nearly as well. Gilbert Highland High alum Ryan Fitzpatrick’s homecoming couldn’t have gone much worse. He completed less than 50% of his throws (8-17) and was intercepted twice. His QB rating was a dismal 19.6. Not exactly the type of debut Fitzpatrick and first-year Houston head coach Bill O’Brien expected.
3. As the Cro Flies: Arizona coaches are expecting big things from big cornerback Antonio Cromartie and Saturday he didn’t disappoint picking off a pass deflected at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Kevin Minter deep in Houston territory setting up a first-quarter field goal. “We just always try to be around the ball,” Cromartie explained. “When you’re running to the ball, good things always happen.”
4. What Brown Can Do For You: Cards rookie wide receiver John Brown, who coaches have raved about at camp, caught five passes for 87 yards (17.4 average) and was targeted 10 times. Arizona is hoping Brown fills the roll of Andre Roberts who signed a four-year free-agent deal with the Washington Redskins in March.
5. Texas Toast: NFL pre-season games can be mis-leading when it comes to team and player performances but with the exception of number one pick Jadeveon Clowney, I’m not quite sure what other positives O’Brien can take away from a 32-zip embarrassment. The same can’t be said for the Cardinals who got excellent performances from Palmer, Drew Stanton and rookie Logan Thomas (combined 27-34, 326 yards, 3 TD’s, no INT’s) as well a number of young receivers who capitalized on the opportunity with Michael Floyd and Ted Ginn, Jr. not dressing. Most importantly, they came out of the game “basically injury-free” according to Arians.