Sunday, September 23, 2012
Wrap-up: Cardinals 27, Eagles 6
By Mike Sando
Thoughts after the Arizona Cardinals' 27-6 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 3:
What it means: The Cardinals are 3-0 for the first time since relocating to Arizona. They are alone atop the NFC West after San Francisco lost at Minnesota. Beating Seattle, New England and Philadelphia to open the season forces a reassessment of almost universally negative preseason expectations for the Cardinals. Arizona is playing great defensively. The offense showed improvement Sunday. By all appearances, quarterback Kevin Kolb played well enough against the Eagles to remain the starter while John Skelton returns to health.
What I liked: The defense hit Eagles quarterback Michael Vick almost too many times to count. Play after play, the Cardinals put the hurt on Vick, a huge factor in the game. Daryl Washington had two sacks. The secondary played tight coverage down the field to take away Vick's deep options. Arizona's defense has now dominated against Tom Brady and Vick in successive weeks. The defense has been consistently strong while Arizona has won 10 of its 12 most recent games.
Kerry Rhodes played his best game since coming to the Cardinals, a welcome boost while fellow safety Adrian Wilson sat out with injury. Rhodes made a touchdown-saving tackle on one play, then forced a fumble Arizona returned for a pivotal touchdown right before halftime. That was the pivotal sequence in the game, one that allowed the Cardinals to take a 24-0 lead into the half. Rhodes also delivered big hits on Eagles tight end Brent Celek. Arizona was the more aggressive team throughout. The fumble Anthony Sherman forced on special teams provided another example.
Kolb completed 17 of 24 passes for 222 yards with two touchdowns, no turnovers and a 127.4 NFL passer rating. He was able to get Larry Fitzgerald involved after a slow start to the season. Fitzgerald, who became the youngest player to reach 700 career receptions, caught nine passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. He now has 35 catches for 570 yards and nine touchdowns in five career games against Philadelphia. Rookie first-round choice Michael Floyd also caught a scoring pass from Kolb.
Ryan Williams, nearly the goat against New England last week, ran hard and with great effectiveness to help Arizona put away the game. Williams carried 13 times for 83 yards.
What I didn't like: Injuries are becoming a concern for the Cardinals. Skelton, Wilson and Todd Heap missed this game. Williams was shaken up in the final minutes and went to the sideline. Beanie Wells and Darnell Dockett also left the game for Arizona. Dockett had a hamstring injury.
There wasn't much else to complain about. The illegal block Fitzgerald delivered prevented Andre Roberts from getting credit for a 79-yard reception. The block helped spring Roberts, but it did not appear necessary.
What's next: The Cardinals face the Miami Dolphins in Week 4 at University of Phoenix Stadium.