Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer throws against the Texans during the first half of Saturday's exhibition game. (Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)
Glendale, Ariz. — Carson Palmer was perfect in his brief appearance, and the rest of the Arizona Cardinals were almost as good Saturday night in a 32-0 rout of Houston, a dismal debut for Bill O’Brien as Texans coach.
Palmer was 5-for-5 for 84 yards and a touchdown in his lone series in the preseason opener.
Ryan Fitzpatrick had a rough first game as Houston’s quarterback. Playing the entire first half, he completed 6 of 14 passes for 55 yards with two interceptions as the Cardinals took a 20-0 lead at the break.
Arizona rookie Logan Thomas played the entire second half, completing 11 of 12 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.
Houston was without wide receiver Andre Johnson, running back Arian Foster and cornerback Johnathan Joseph — all nursing minor injuries.
The Texans, coming off a 2-14 season, got inside the Cardinals’ 30-yard line once, and that ended with an interception.
“Really, really great to just see us come out and execute,” Palmer said. “Nothing spectacular, nothing special, just everybody on the same page.”
Arizona rookie John Brown caught five passes for 87 yards, all in the first half.
Palmer, entering his 12th NFL season and second with Arizona, had passes of 25 yards to Brown and 35 yards to Rob Housler, then capped his drive with a seven-yard scoring pass to Larry Fitzgerald.
Arizona’s first-team defense had a three-and-out and an interception in its two series.
Rookie Chandler Catanzaro, trying to take the kicking job from Jay Feely, had field goals of 32, 28 and 25 yards.
With 1:28 to play, Houston rookie quarterback Tom Savage was tackled by JoJo Dickson for a safety.
The Cardinals had a 407-172 advantage in total yards.
Palmer’s backup, former Michigan State quarterback Drew Stanton, who hasn’t thrown a regular-season pass since 2010, completed 11 of 17 for 152 yards and 5-yard TD pass to Jaron Brown.
Case Keenum, 0-8 as a starter for Houston last season, played the third quarter, going 3 of 5 for 23 yards.
After Arizona took the opening kickoff, J.J. Watt beat guard Jonathan Cooper and sacked Palmer for a seven-yard loss at the Cardinals 15. But on third-and-16, Palmer found the speedy rookie John Brown on a 25-yard play. Moments later, he threw to Housler, who ran down the sideline on a 35-yard play yards to the 38.
A hands-to-the-face penalty on Ted Larsen, starting in place of injured Lyle Sendlein, negated Palmer’s 13-yard TD pass to John Carlson. But two plays later, Palmer found Fitzgerald over the middle for a score.
Later in the first quarter, Fitzpatrick’s pass was tipped by linebacker Kevin Minter. It bounced through the arms of linebacker Larry Foote before cornerback Antonio Cromartie, in his first season with Arizona, picked it off.
“It’s good, from the standpoint of we just always try to be around the ball,” Cromartie said. “When you’re running to the ball, good things always happen.”
More Saturday games
(At) Giants 20, Steelers 16
Rashad Jennings had a 73-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and Curtis Painter’s scoring pass with 2:50 left gave the Giants a victory
Howard Jones had given the Steelers a 16-13 lead when he picked up backup quarterback Ryan Nassib’s fumble and went 28 yards for a touchdown with 10:16 to go.
But Painter led a 12-play, 80 yard drive and threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Corey Washington for the victory.
Eli Manning played four series and didn’t complete a pass in two attempts for the Giants. They opened the preseason last week with a 17-13 win over Buffalo in the Hall of Fame.
Ben Roethlisberger played only one series for the Steelers (0-1). He was 1 of 2, with a 46-yarder to rookie third-round pick Dri Archer to the Giants 14.
(At) Titans 20, Packers 6
Jackie Battle scored on a 7-yard touchdown run with 5:02 left, and the Titans rallied to beat Green Bay in Ken Whisenhunt’s coaching debut in Tennessee.
Rookie Zach Mettenberger made up for two turnovers in the fourth quarter by completing all three passes for 71 yards to set up Battle’s go-ahead touchdown for Tennessee’s first lead in a preseason opener played mostly in a pouring rain.
With quarterbacks having trouble holding onto the ball, Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy had to feel good about his pregame decision to scratch not only Aaron Rodgers but also Eddie Lacy along with eight other Packers.
Matt Flynn started for Rodgers and was 5-of-10 for 49 yards playing most of the first half. He left with the Packers leading 7-6 thanks to James Starks’ TD capping the opening drive. Starks played only the first series in place of Lacy, and he finished with six carries for 49 yards.
Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt said linebacker Colin McCarthy probably will be out for a while after hurting his shoulder Saturday. Titans backup center Chris Spencer also hurt his left ankle early in the second quarter and was taken to the locker room on a cart.
Spencer had replaced starter Brian Scwhenke when he went down on a running play by Bishop Sankey.
Packers linebacker Joe Thomas injured his knee and did not return.
... Cordy Glenn’s long-awaited return to practice Saturday is not an indication that the Bills starting left tackle is anywhere close to being ready to play. Far from it, coach Doug Marrone said hours after Glenn passed his physical and was added to the active roster following an undisclosed illness.
“We’re going to take it very, very slowly,” said Marrone, of a player who’s been sidelined since training camp opened July 20. “You won’t seem him participating in any team (drills) for a while. And we’ll see how he responds, because I really don’t know.”
The Falcons signed free-agent linebacker Darin Drakeford and waived kicker Sergio Castillo.
... The Bengals signed free-agent quarterback Tyler Wilson, two days after second-string quarterback Jason Campbell bruised his passing elbow.