Receivers struggle as Cardinals come undone in second half, lose to Texans

HOUSTON -- Coach Bruce Arians raved about Blaine Gabbert's performance in his first start for the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.

He was not so kind to himself and Arizona's receivers after a 31-21 loss to the Houston Texans.

The Texans led 24-21 with about 6 minutes left when the Adrian Peterson was dropped for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-1. D'Onta Foreman dashed 34 yards on the next play to push the lead to 31-21.

Arians said he regretted not punting on fourth down.

"Very simple -- I cost our team the game … when you can't gain a foot, you deserve to lose, especially if you make the decision I made and the play I called," he said. "There's your headline, you can write it."

While he took the blame for the loss, he felt the receivers contributed to it by dropping too many passes on a day Gabbert threw for 257 yards and a career-high three touchdowns.

"He probably had over a 100 quarterback rating until the end of the game," Arians said. "We don't make any plays for him. We dropped way too many balls."

Gabbert threw interceptions on consecutive drives after Foreman's touchdown to allow the Texans to secure the victory.

Arians was asked why his receivers had so much trouble reeling in catches on Sunday.

"You'd have to ask them because balls hit them right in the face and they dropped them," he said. "It's time to look somewhere else."

The dropped passes were far from the only problem on offense on a day the Cardinals managed just 48 yards rushing with Peterson leading the team with 14 carries for 26 yards.

"You just can't play on the road and not be able to run the ball," Arians said.

Gabbert made his first start since October 2016 with the 49ers on Sunday with Drew Stanton dealing with a sprained knee and Carson Palmer out for the season with a broken arm.

The Texans had two turnovers in the first half that Arizona converted into touchdowns. The first came when Tom Savage was sacked by rookie Budda Baker in the second quarter and fumbled. Baker recovered the ball to give Arizona possession at the Houston 17.

Two plays later, Gabbert connected with Larry Fitzgerald on a 20-yard touchdown pass to tie it at 7. Fitzgerald passed Tony Gonzalez (15,127) for fifth-most receiving yards in NFL history on that play and ended the day with 91 yards receiving to give him 15,157 yards.

Patrick Peterson intercepted Savage and returned it 22 yards late in the third quarter to give Arizona great field position again. This time Gabbert found rookie Ricky Seals-Jones on an 11-yard TD pass to put the Cardinals up 14-7.

"Second half, we just did not finish," Gabbert said, "That starts with me at the quarterback position. Left too many opportunities out on the field, shot ourselves in the foot a few times and then turned the ball over there at the end of the game, which can't happen."

Seals-Jones, who didn't have a catch entering Sunday, finished with 54 yards receiving and two touchdowns for the Cardinals (4-6).

Seals-Jones, who is from nearby Sealy, Texas, added his second touchdown on a 28-yard grab to make it 21-17 with about five minutes left in the third quarter.

"I'm just working hard so my number can be called and produce," he said. "I have to build on that, come in every day and just keep competing like I have and just go from there."

UP NEXT

Cardinals host the Jaguars next Sunday.