It took former Pitt quarterback Tom Savage a few games to get going, but he finally got his first win of the season on Sunday, leading the Houston Texans to a 31-21 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
In the sixth start of his NFL career and his fourth this season, Savage had arguably his best game yet, completing 69 percent of his passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. The 69 percent completion rate was the best of his career, barring preseason action, and his performance earned him a quarterback rating of 97.1.
Star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who notably endorsed Savage during the offseason, led the team in receiving yards and targets, grabbing four of the nine passes thrown his way for 76 yards. One of those was a nicely placed 28-yard lob from Savage that gave the Texans a 17-14 lead in the third quarter.
The former Panther also got reliable production out of receiver Bruce Ellington, who caught six of seven passes directed at him for 63 yards, and running back Lamar Miller, who snagged a touchdown catch along the edge of the end zone early in the second quarter.
Ellington praised Savage’s progress after the game, noting that the chemistry between the signal-caller and his receiving corps has been improving.
“It was a great job Tom did," he said, per the team’s official site. "He’s getting better every week. We’re getting the chemistry better every week. It’s a big win, so we just have to build on it.”
However, Savage's performance wasn't without its blemishes. Early on, he was sacked by safety Budda Baker and lost a fumble as a result. He also gave up an interception to cornerback Patrick Peterson, albeit on an unfortunate tip. The Cardinals cashed in on both mistakes, jumping out to a 14-7 lead in the first half.
Still, Savage showed significant improvement over his previous outings this season, limiting mistakes and pulling his share of the weight in a suddenly balanced offense that also scored twice on the ground, thanks to D’Onta Foreman.
The result was a much-needed win for the team, which advanced to 4-6 on the season. Savage will have a chance to build on Sunday's success next Monday, when the Texans take on the 5-5 Baltimore Ravens in a prime-time matchup.