C.J. Stroud leads Texans past Cardinals despite first multi-interception game of NFL career

The Houston Texans survived rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud’s first multi-interception game to outlast the Arizona Cardinals, 21-16.

They did so, fittingly, as Stroud's fellow 2023 first-round draft pick Will Anderson hit quarterback Kyler Murray to break up Arizona's last chance at a comeback.

Anderson's pressure — and the pressure it allowed his defensive teammates to lay on Arizona — reminded sharp NFL fans why the Texans sent the Cardinals fifth- and seventh-round draft picks to complete a trade up from the 12th pick of the 2023 NFL Draft first round to the third.

The Texans had already selected quarterback C.J. Stroud with the second overall pick, but Houston saw Anderson as another cornerstone for first-year head coach DeMeco Ryans.

They knew the Cardinals needed to rebuild until they fronted Murray or his successor for an entire season (Murray returned in November from a December 2023 ACL tear).

So Anderson became a Texan.

With a sack, a game-sealing quarterback hit and another key tackle for loss Sunday, he flashed his potential.

The Texans needed that defensive effort as Stroud played a productive but uncharacteristically mistake-ridden day.

Stroud was intercepted in the second quarter when Cardinals safety Jalen Thompson dropped underneath in the middle of the end zone. He was intercepted with 9:42 to play in the fourth quarter when, again driving in the red-zone, Stroud targeted receiver Robert Woods and the ball instead deflected off Woods' hands and into the waiting hands of Cardinals linebacker Kris Barnes. Stroud's last turnvoer — his first three-interception game in 36 college and pro contests — was intercepted when Arizona cornerback Antonio Hamilton Sr. undercut Stroud's pass down the left sideline.

Stroud finished 27-of-37 for 336 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Texans receiver Tank Dell caught a game-high eight of 10 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown.

Murray, in his second game back, completed 20-of-30 passes for 214 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He leaned on his trademark escapability for another 51 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.

The Texans improved to 6-4 while the Cardinals fell to 2-9.

This developing story will be updated.

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