Cardinals tight end Ricky Seals-Jones caught the first two touchdowns of his career on Sunday.
HOUSTON – The crowds used to be smaller, the lights not quite as bright.
Ricky Seals-Jones is no stranger to impressive performances in this part of Texas, but those came in high school, when he was a star wide receiver in nearby Sealy.
It was another thing entirely when he did it on Sunday, hauling in three catches for 54 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Cardinals' 31-21 loss to the Texans. The rookie tight end didn't have a catch in his NFL career previously, so his family got an up-close view at his breakout performance.
"It was very special, honestly," Seals-Jones said. "Emotions flying, going out there and being home. Having my mom and dad and my brother in the stadium watching me – it feels really good to make the last name on my pads proud."
Seals-Jones went undrafted out of Texas A&M in April and converted from wide receiver to tight end to increase his chances of making a roster. The Cardinals liked what they saw in training camp, and an injury to Ifeanyi Momah last week paved the way for Seals-Jones' increased workload this week.
"Ricky has really been impressive in practice against our defense," coach Bruce Arians said. "Just put some plays in for him, and he responded really well."
It helped that Seals-Jones developed a rapport with Blaine Gabbert, who had been the third-string quarterback for the Cardinals until injuries to Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton vaulted him into a starting role against Houston.
"We've had the chance to get a lot of work in since the rookies got here this summer, going with (the third team) in camp and preseason games, going on scout team," Gabbert said. "The way we treated those reps on the scout team I think translated to this game. "
Seals-Jones was asked postgame what the performance said about him.
"A kid from Sealy can play with the big boys," Seals-Jones said.
PETERSON-HOPKINS SHOWDOWN DOESN'T DISAPPOINT
As expected, star cornerback Patrick Peterson had a busy day in his matchup with Texans star receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Each player had their shining moments, which wasn't a surprise considering the talent on either side.
Peterson didn't allow a catch in the first half and had a one-handed interception on a deflected pass in the second quarter. Hopkins had a pair of long catches in the third quarter, one of which went for a 28-yard touchdown.
Peterson nearly had a second interception in the fourth quarter, while Hopkins finished with four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown on nine targets.
"It was a great matchup," Peterson said. "Might have to call it a draw because we both made plays all day. He scored, I got a pick. The balls he didn't catch I was knocking down. I got a couple PBUs, so I just got to continue grinding."
The appreciation was mutual.
"I think he's one of the best defensive backs in the game," Hopkins said. "If I could play against him every Sunday, I would."
RECEIVER SHAKEUP ON THE HORIZON
Arians said there could be some changes at wide receiver moving forward. The team has had some inconsistency with drops the past two games beyond star Larry Fitzgerald.
"Balls hit them right in the face and they dropped them," Arians said, without getting into specific names. "Like I said, it's time to look somewhere else."
Third-round pick Chad Williams was inactive on Sunday but could be an option to get more playing time.
FOSTER REPLACES ELLINGTON AS THIRD-DOWN BACK
Running back Andre Ellington, who has been the main third down option since the team traded for Adrian Peterson, was a healthy inactive. D.J. Foster replaced him as the running back on third-down passing situations.
Foster finished with two catches for 26 yards.
Images from the Cardinals' Week 11 game in Houston