GLENDALE, Ariz. -- All that talk about the Arizona Cardinals' offense being light years ahead of where it was a year ago at this time wasn't a bunch of hyperbole.
The Cardinals' passing game was perfect through two series as Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton combined to start 9-for-9 for 121 yards and two touchdowns Saturday in a 32-0 win over the Houston Texans. The offense looked like a well-oiled machine even without two of its top three receivers.
Here are some other thoughts on the Cardinals' first preseason game of the year:
The passing game looked nearly spotless between all three quarterbacks. As a trio, Palmer, Stanton and Logan Thomas went 27-for-34 combined, with Thomas going 11-for-12 in his NFL debut. The Cardinals totaled 409 yards, although 326 of them came in the air. If the offense can find a way for the running game to keep improving like the passing attack did, it can be a dangerous one. The key is that Arizona was able to move the ball in the air without Michael Floyd or Ted Ginn, who were out with injuries.
Speaking of debuts, wide receiver John Brown lived up to the hype. He had 87 yards on five catches, but it was his ability to get open and haul in the passes that really stood out. Even though it was only the first preseason game, Arizona may have found its fourth receiver.
Bruce Arians will have a hard time arguing with Chandler Catanzaro's performance. The rookie went 3-for-3 on field goals, hitting from 32, 28 and 35, while going 3-for-3 on extra points and nailing his kickoffs. His six kicks went, in order, for a touchback, six yards deep, six deep, seven deep, a touchback and eight deep.
Because of the first and second team's offensive success, Thomas was given the ball for the entire second half. He looked calm and collected in the pocket, not appearing to make any hasty decisions that plagued him in practice. He went 7-for-8 for 69 yards in the third quarter and finished 11-for-12 for 113 yards and a touchdown. His passes were crisp and direct but they didn't have the usual velocity on them. Overthrowing his receivers or them not handling his passes wasn't an issue Saturday night.
Call it the preseason all you want and talk about how poorly Houston's offense played, but the Cardinals' defense picked up where it left off in 2013. It limited the Texans to 132 yards in the first half, the duration of which was played by the Texans' starters. The Cardinals' secondary held Houston to 55 passing yards and the seven slowed the run to 77 yards. Arizona even picked off Houston quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick twice, one by Marcus Benard and the other by Antonio Cromartie. To top it off, linebacker JoJo Dickson sacked Tom Savage for a safety late in the fourth quarter.