Tight end Rob Housler runs over a Texan to score his first NFL touchdown in Sunday's 27-24 win over Houston.
Poor Rob Housler.
The Cardinals tight end had just wrapped up arguably the best game of his career, and one inquiring mind had to focus on the negative.
"Ask him why it took three years to get a touchdown in the end zone as a starting tight end," a smiling Larry Fitzgerald said. "Ask him what took him so long."
While the performance may have come later than expected, Housler's production on Sunday afternoon played an important role in the Cardinals' 27-24 victory over the Texans. He finished the contest with four receptions for 57 yards, the highlight of which was a 12-yard second-quarter touchdown on a beautifully designed screen.
It was the second -highest yardage total of Housler's career – he had eight catches for 82 yards last season against the
Rams – and, as Fitzgerald duly noted, his first touchdown reception. Housler celebrated by pulling an imaginary monkey from his back in the end zone, but was more subdued following the game.
"It's going to gather dust in the closet," Housler said of the touchdown ball. "I'll probably give it to some family members. It's important to me, but I don't sit there and put them on mantles or anything like that. I just take it in stride and try to get more."
Housler's day highlighted a nice outing from a tight end group which had lacked production through the first half of the season. Newcomer Jake Ballard caught a key 15-yard pass on the play before Housler's score, and Jim Dray added a 9-yard reception to set up Andre Roberts' 19-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
"Robbie had really not got going until today," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "All season long, we have been trying to get him involved. He made some great plays and catches."
WITH FLOYD AILING, ROBERTS REAPPEARS
Michael Floyd had two catches for 31 yards early against Houston and looked poised for a big game, but suffered an AC sprain of his right shoulder in the first quarter and didn't return. In stepped Roberts, who more than filled in as the No. 2 receiver alongside Fitzgerald. Roberts had a team-high five catches for 72 yards and the fourth-quarter score, which ended up being the difference in the victory.
"That is what you do when your opportunity arises," coach Bruce Arians said. "You make the best of it."
It's been a tough year for Roberts, who hasn't gotten the type of targets he's wanted. He said it was important to have an impact performance when his number was called.
"What B.A.'s offense is, he runs a lot of two tight ends, two receiver sets, and he did that in Indy," Roberts said. "I knew coming into this year what it was going to be. I have to, when I get my opportunities, execute, and do it at a high level."
Arians said he expects Floyd to be ready for next week's game against the Jaguars.
ABRAHAM'S HOT STRETCH HELPS IN A SCORE
Veteran John Abraham continued his strong recent play with two sacks and a forced fumble. On the game's first play from scrimmage, he poked the ball from Houston quarterback Case Keenum's grasp as he circled in the backfield. Linebacker Matt Shaughnessy picked it up and scored for a 7-0 just 14 seconds into the game.
'It gives us the momentum right away and that's important in close games," Shaughnessy said.
Abraham now has five sacks and three forced fumbles in the past three games after collecting zero in the first six. He has 127 career sacks, which passed Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas for 12th place on the NFL's all-time list.
"I was actually thinking, 'I might get one on the first play, you know, just joking around in your head, thinking that,'" Abraham said. "I was like, 'Wow, I got one.' So then I was like, 'Hey, let's try to get some more.' Everything else is just stacking up after you get your first one."
BETHEL WITH THE BLOCK AND ZASTUDIL'S COFFIN CORNERS
Punter Dave Zastudil had a banner day. Three of his five punts were downed inside the 20, and two of them pinned the Texans at the 1-yard-line.
Houston went three-and-out after the first one, which gave the Cardinals good field position and led to the Housler touchdown.
Justin Bethel continued to make his case as arguably the best special teams player in the NFL, blocking a 40-yard field goal try by Texans kicker Randy Bullock as time expired in the first half to keep the deficit at three points.
"Every time I go out there my goal is to block it," Bethel said. "After the first field goal they attempted, I felt like I could get it if I went for it again. We got another chance and I ended up getting it."