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 Jr. 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 first-, second- and third-round picks as collateral to jump from the 12th overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft to the third. (The Cardinals also sent a fourth-round pick as part of terms.)
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 turnover — 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 from a torn ACL, completed 20 of 30 passes for 214 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He leaned on his trademark escapability for another 51 rushing yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
The Texans improved to 6-4 while the Cardinals fell to 2-9.