The Arizona Cardinals made a strong statement that they’re a real contender on Sunday, welcoming the Eagles to town and then sending them packing with a one-sided beatdown in which Michael Vick got hit so hard and so often it was surprising he stayed in the game.
Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb — the man who was traded out of Philly to make room for Vick — had the biggest game of his NFL career in beating his former team, 27-6. Not necessarily the biggest statistically (though his numbers, 17-of-24 for 222 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, were great), but the most significant demonstration to date that he really could be a good starter for a good NFL team.
In fact, Kolb is a good starter for a good NFL team right now. The Cardinals are 3-0, and the way Kolb has played since John Skelton went down in Week One is a big reason for that.
The biggest reason for that, however, is the Cardinals’ defense. Arizona has put together a tough, nasty, physical bunch of guys who put a serious pounding on Vick, while also containing Eagles running back LeSean McCoy. Vick deserves credit for staying in the game despite the abuse he was taking, but he doesn’t deserve any credit for his ball security. Although Vick finally made it through a game without an interception, he lost two fumbles, including one that Arizona’s James Sanders picked up and returned 93 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first half, a touchdown reminiscent of James Harrison’s touchdown against the Cardinals on the final play of the first half of Super Bowl XLII.
Since playing in that Super Bowl, there’s been a lot more disappointment than success in Arizona. But this Cardinals team looks like it’s ready to be a real force in the NFC. The 2-1 Eagles may still be contenders, but the 3-0 Cardinals are looking like one of the NFL’s elite teams. Who saw that coming?