Sep 23, 2012
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There may still be some imperfections here and there, but the Arizona Cardinals remain a perfect 3-0 three weeks into the season.
Arizona's defense forced three turnovers and sacked Michael Vick five times and Kevin Kolb passed for two touchdowns against his former team as the Cardinals cruised to a convincing 27-6 victory over the previously unbeaten Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
It's the first time the Cardinals have started a season 3-0 since 1974, when they opened 7-0.
“We've played well, but we still haven't played our best,” said safety Kerry Rhodes, whose sack of Vick at the end of the first half caused a fumble that was returned 93 yards for a touchdown by James Sanders.
“We didn't play lights out. We played good, but we didn't play perfect. That just fuels us every week to get better.”
The Eagles were also eyeing a 3-0 start despite entering the game having committed nine turnovers and becoming the first team in history to win each of its first two games by one point.
But the NFL's top-ranked offense just can't seem to hang onto the ball. Vick lost two fumbles and the Eagles also turned the ball over on a punt return, when the ball was knocked loose from Damaris Johnson.
“Listen, they played better than we did, clearly better,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “They coached better and they played better. That is my responsibility. I didn't have my football team ready to play and they did. Hat's off to them.”
Kolb, meanwhile, was facing his former team for the first time since being acquired from the Eagles more than a year ago for a second-round draft pick and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Starting his second straight game for injured John Skelton, Kolb was 17 of 24 without an interception and looked more poised than perhaps ever before in an Arizona uniform.
He threw first-half touchdown passes to rookie Michael Floyd and All-Pro Larry Fitzgerald, whose 37-yard score gave the Cardinals a 17-0 lead with 7:40 left before halftime.
It was Fitzgerald's ninth touchdown in five career games against the Eagles, including the playoffs, and he has scored at least one in all five games.
“We played good, but it's just the third game. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves,” Fitzgerald said. “We've got a good, hard-nosed football team (Miami Dolphins) that we're not really familiar with coming in here next weekend, so we'll celebrate tonight and get back on the grind.”
The Cardinals' defense, meanwhile, continued to make dominating plays and, to date, has allowed just two touchdowns. A week after upsetting the Patriots in New England, Arizona held the Eagles to 308 total yards. Philadelphia entered the game ranked first in offense, averaging 470 yards.
It was Vick's second turnover and ninth this season that virtually sealed the game in Arizona's favor. After Fitzgerald's touchdown, the Eagles had the ball at the Arizona 1 with six seconds remaining in the half. Facing third down and out of timeouts, Vick dropped back to pass. A Philadelphia touchdown would likely swing momentum in the Eagles' favor heading into the half. Instead, Rhodes blindsided Vick and he lost the football. It bounced right to Sanders, who raced down the left sideline for the third-longest fumble recovery for a score in franchise history.
“Coach (defensive coordinator Ray Horton) called a good play and I just came free and was able to get the ball out,” Rhodes said. “It's just part of the team. When your number is called, you have to make the play. For me, everyone else is making plays, so why not me?”
Vick, who finished 17 of 37 for 217 yards, said he sensed Rhodes coming.
“Yeah, I knew,” Vick said. “I was just hoping that the back would pick him up, but I still tried to make a play. That's my responsibility. I have to get that taken care of in the protection schemes, especially with a new center, and just have to play better.”
Notes: With his second reception Sunday, a 4-yard shovel pass from Kevin Kolb, Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 700 career catches. Fitzgerald did it at age 29 and 23 days. ... For the 11th consecutive game, the Cardinals did not allow a 100-yard rusher as the Eagles' LaSean McCoy was held to 70 yards on 13 carries. ... Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox left the game in the second quarter with a migraine. ... Cardinals running back Beanie Wells left the game in the third quarter with a toe injury and did not return. Defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, meanwhile, suffered a right hamstring strain in the third and also did not return. ... The Cardinals posted their seventh consecutive victory at home, tied for the second longest streak (2007-08) since 1925 when the team won nine in a row and played in Chicago.