NFL: Kolb inspires Arizona Cardinals to victory


After three games and three wins, the Arizona Cardinals remained perfect with a convincing 27-6 victory over the Eagles at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday.

It’s the first time the Cardinals have started a season 3-0 since 1974, when they opened 7-0.

Kevin Kolb threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns and James Sanders returned one of Michael Vick’s two first-half fumbles 93 yards for a touchdown as Arizona ran over Philadelphia – making it their best start in 38 years.

Kolb was sharp, hitting 17 of 24 passes, and Arizona (3-0) sacked Vick five times for its best start since 1974, more than a dozen years before the team moved to the desert. The Cardinals also have won seven straight home games, the second-longest streak in franchise history.

Larry Fitzgerald was the guest conductor for the fall opening of the Phoenix Symphony on Thursday and kept the high notes going against the Eagles, catching nine passes for 114 yards and a touchdown while becoming the youngest player to reach 700 receptions.

Philadelphia (2-1) became the first NFL team to open a season with two one-point wins. The Eagles didn’t give themselves a chance to rally for another victory, picked apart by the quarterback they cast away and hounded by Arizona’s attacking defense.

The NFL’s best offense the first two games, the Eagles had three turnovers, running their season total to 12, and labored all day against the scrappy Cardinals.

After three years of waiting behind Donovan McNabb, Kolb was pushed aside when Vick made his triumphant return to the NFL.

Even after being traded to Arizona and landing a huge contract extension, Kolb still had to fight for recognition.

He lost a tight pre-season battle with Skelton, but came off the bench in the opener against Seattle when Skelton sprained his right ankle. Kolb took the Cardinals on the winning drive and was steady enough last week to lead them to one of their biggest road victories in recent years, 20-18 over the New England Patriots.

Skelton returned to practice late this week, but was limited and ended up watching Sunday’s game in street clothes.

Kolb, who missed last year’s win over the Eagles with a foot injury, made the most of his opportunity, carving up Philadelphia’s secondary with crisp passes.

He completed all three of his throws on Arizona’s opening drive to set up Jay Feely’s 16th straight field goal, from 47 yards.

After the Cardinals recovered a fumble by Eagles punt returner Damaris Johnson, Kolb threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Michael Floyd, who made his first NFL catch a memorable one by juggling the ball through two Philadelphia defenders.

Kolb kept clicking in the second quarter, throwing a 37-yard touchdown pass to Fitzgerald that put the Cardinals up 17-0.

Arizona’s offense bogged down in the second half – 28 yards in the third quarter – but ground the game away with a time-consuming, 13-play drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a 27-yard field goal by Feely for a 27-6 lead.

Vick, on the other hand, spent most of his day being chased or knocked down.

The Cardinals hit him hard twice on Philadelphia’s first series and linebacker Sam Acho caused him to fumble with a hit early in the second quarter to end a drive into Arizona’s end of the field.

Vick finally got the Eagles going late in the first half, only to have it end in disaster.

Forced to throw it away on two plays from Arizona’s 1-yard line, he was blindsided by Kerry Rhodes on third down and fumbled. Sanders scooped it up and raced up the sideline, picking up a couple of blockers along the way to a 93-yard fumble return for a touchdown that put Arizona up 24-0 at halftime.

The Eagles put up some yards in the second half, just not many points.

Philadelphia opened the third quarter with two solid drives, but settled for a pair of field goals by Alex Henery and never threatened Arizona’s lead.

Vick had 217 yards on 17-of-37 passing after entering the game second in the NFL with 688 yards.

Fitzgerald needed two catches to reach 700 and took care of it quickly, hitting the mark on a 4-yard pass from Kolb in the first quarter. He reached the milestone in 29 years and 23 days, eclipsing Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who hit the mark last week at 30 years and 133 days.