HOUSTON (AP) — C.J. Stroud was asked if he'd think twice about making certain throws after he was intercepted a season-high three times in Houston's win over Arizona.
“Steph Curry don’t ever stop shooting, you know, I mean,” the Texans' standout rookie said. “I don’t have no shame in my game. I've definitely got to be smarter, but no confidence is taken away from me and I’m going to keep letting it fly.”
Stroud threw for 336 yards with two touchdowns, and the Texans overcame his mistakes to beat the Cardinals 21-16 on Sunday.
“You’re going to have miscues, you’re going to have bad plays, but it’s all about how you respond to those plays,” coach DeMeco Ryans said. “So we will continue to highlight all the positive things that C.J. is doing. And then we’ll also coach him up on those negative plays.”
Stroud's 2,962 yards passing are the fourth-most ever in a player's first 10 games, and he joined Joe Burrow as the only rookies in NFL history with 300 or more yards passing in three consecutive games.
The Texans (6-4) have doubled their win total from last season and have won three games in a row for the first time since a nine-game streak in 2018.
Stroud was asked about the team exceeding expectations.
“It’s not about what everybody else thinks or what they thought we were going to be at this point,” he said. “It’s about what we go and put on that field.”
The Cardinals (2-9) had a chance to win late. Kyler Murray threw a deep pass on fourth-and-8 that was intended for Marquise Brown, but Steven Nelson batted it down with 35 seconds left.
Houston didn’t score after halftime and Stroud was picked off on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter. He had thrown just two interceptions in his first nine games.
Houston's Tank Dell had a season-high 149 yards on eight receptions and set a franchise rookie record with his sixth touchdown catch.
Murray threw for 214 yards with a touchdown and an interception in his second game back after recovering from a torn ACL. He also rushed for 51 yards and a score.
"The defense did what they needed to do, and we didn’t hold up our end of the bargain,” Murray said. “That’s frustrating. I feel like we had too many opportunities not to win the game.”
Murray said he felt like he let the team down.
“We did some good, but there are no moral victories,” he said. “It’s just frustrating.”
So, is there any optimism for these Cardinals, who are tied with New England for the second-fewest wins in the NFL?
“Not right now,” Murray said.
The Cardinals failed to convert on fourth down at the Houston 45 with about 7 1/2 minutes to go. But Stroud was intercepted again on the ensuing drive when Antonio Hamilton Sr. hopped in front of Dell.
Murray scored on a 1-yard run with about three minutes left in the third quarter to get the Cardinals within 21-16, but his run for the 2-point conversion was short.
The Cardinals were stopped on fourth-and-3 from the Houston 23 early in the fourth quarter. After a Houston punt, the Cardinals fumbled on the return and the Texans recovered at the Arizona 31.
Stroud was then intercepted in the end zone by Krys Barnes.
Stroud got a pass off under heavy pressure and found Dell in the end zone for a 40-yard touchdown that made it 21-10 just before halftime.
“We just worked on that drill at practice — the scramble drill,” Dell said. “Basically like backyard football.”
Dell leaped into the crowd and was pulled into the stands where he stood among a group of cheering fans for a few seconds before returning to the field.
Soon, chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” rained down on Stroud, who has completely transformed this team just 10 games into his career.
The Cardinals took an early lead when Rondale Moore caught a 48-yard touchdown pass on their first drive.
Houston tied it when Stroud connected with Dalton Schultz on a 20-yard TD pass with about six minutes left in the first quarter.
Matt Prater’s 57-yard field goal put Arizona ahead again.
An 11-yard run by Devin Singletary gave Houston a 14-10 lead early in the second quarter. After the score, Stroud mimicked taking photos while the rest of the offense posed in the end zone.
Cardinals LB Kyzir White injured an elbow in the second quarter. ... NT Leki Fotu left with a hand injury in the second quarter. ... Hamilton injured his groin on the interception and was carted to the locker room.
Cardinals: Host the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday.
Texans: Host Jacksonville next Sunday.
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