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3 big takeaways from the Cardinals' loss to the Texans

3 big takeaways from the Cardinals' loss to the Texans
Posted at 2:14 PM, Nov 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-19 21:06:14-05

Plagued by mistakes, the Arizona Cardinals couldn't climb back to .500 on the road.

Despite a strong start by third-string quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the Cardinals fell to 4-6 on the season with a 31-21 loss at the Houston Texans on Sunday. Here are three big takeaways from the defeat.

1. First, the good news.

Let's try to cling to some positives, shall we?

-Despite a pair of late interceptions, Gabbert looked pretty good in his first start as the Cardinal, as he threw three touchdown passes in a game for the first time in his career. His numbers would have been better if not for some key drops by Cardinals receivers, which we'll get to in a moment.

-A pair of rookies shined Sunday, as second-round pick Budda Baker racked up 13 tackles and forced a fumble that led to a touchdown, and undrafted tight end Ricky Seals-Jones caught touchdowns No. 1 and 2 of his career.

-Larry Fitzgerald continued to climb the record charts, moving into fifth place on the NFL's all-time receiving list with a touchdown catch in the first half. Fitz had 91 yards on nine catches for the game.

2. Too many mistakes

The Texans won in Houston due to the number of boneheaded mistakes made by the visiting team.

For the game, Arizona committed 10 penalties for 90 yards -- numbers similar to last week's totals of nine penalties for 58 yards vs. Seattle. And also like last week, they dropped some key passes late in the game -- JJ Nelson and John Brown were the offenders -- that killed any chances for a Cardinals comeback. That's not gonna get it done in the NFL, even against a below-average team like the Texans.

3. Peterson goes nowhere, again

Two of Adrian Peterson's first three games in a Cardinals uniform were outstanding, as he rushed for well over 100 yards and led the Cards to victories. But the 32-year-old Peterson has been bottled up in each of Arizona's last two games, including Sunday's in Houston.

For the game, Peterson managed just 26 yards on 14 carries, similar to his 21-carry, 29-yard performance vs. the Seahawks last week. Peterson was stopped for a 1-yard loss on a key fourth-down play in the fourth quarter -- a play that Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said cost his team the game.

It's not all Peterson's fault, as Arizona's injury-depleted offensive line has given him little room to run. Still, the Cards need more out of the man they traded for last month, and they're just not getting it.