The good news is, it’s still September, and the Eagles are 2-1…
The better news is, our Eagles just got a diagnostic check-up after losing badly to a team which they dominate on paper… and the results pointed directly to the parts of the engine which need either fine-tuning or replacement.
A dagger of a TD reception by Larry Fitzgerald in the 1st half… it seemed to be a predictable throw and route at the time…but perhaps for communication issues in the Eagles defensive backfield, it turned out be a wide-open completion for Kolb.
Another turning point— DJax got stopped just short of the goal line when he was gang-tackled by safeties Kerry Rhodes and James Sanders in a crucial comeback drive by Vick…
Cardinals’ QB Kevin Kolb orchestrated Arizona’s offense to near perfection while building a big first-half lead— and the Arizona defense hounded Michael Vick all day long, sacking him five times to help the Cardinals run over the Eagles 27-6 on Sunday for their best start in 38 years.
”He was calling for guys to reach down and dig deep, that we really needed to make a play,” Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. ”He really doesn’t talk that much in the huddle, but today I could tell that he was extra motivated.”
Kolb was sharp in his first start against his former team, throwing for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 17-of-24 passing. He led the Cardinals to a 24-0 halftime lead, in part, by reconnecting with Larry Fitzgerald, who had one catch against New England last week. Fitzgerald caught nine passes for 114 yards and a touchdown while becoming the youngest player in NFL history to reach 700 receptions.
Adding to Kolb’s satisfaction was the way Arizona’s defense played against “the man who pushed him out of Philly”… Harassing Vick from the opening snap, the Cardinals hit him hard and often, forcing him into two fumbles, including one that James Sanders returned 93 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first half.
Backing up a big road win against the Patriots with a dominating victory over the Eagles, the Cardinals (3-0) are off to their best start since 1974, more than a dozen years before the team moved to the desert. They’ve also won seven straight home games, the second-longest streak in franchise history, and have won 10 of 12 dating to the end of last season.
The NFL’s “statistically” 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, unable to keep them off Vick. ”They played better than we did, clearly better,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. ”They coached better, they played better and that is my responsibility. I didn’t have my football team ready to play— and they did.”
Kolb made the most of his opportunity. 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 TD 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. He also helped Fitzgerald reach a big milestone in the quarter, hitting him on a 4-yard pass to reach 700 receptions in 29 years and 23 days and eclipse Dallas tight end Jason Witten, who became the youngest last week at 30 years and 133 days.
Arizona’s offense bogged down in the second half – 28 yards in the third quarter – but began grinding 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 finished with 217 yards on 17-of-37 passing after entering the game second in the NFL with 688 yards. ”I wish I had all the answers right now,” Vick said. ”The only thing I can tell you is we didn’t play our best, Nowhere near what we have potential to do.”
|Michael Vick has not been sharp against five or more pass rushers this season but was especially ineffective against the Cardinals’ added pressure Sunday. Vick was just 3-13 passing when the Cardinals sent at least five rushers, including 1-7 when a defensive back was part of the pass rush. [+]
Michael Vick Passing Against 5+ Pass Rushers
|The Eagles had 3 turnovers in the 1st half, giving them 12 already this season… The last time they had 12 turnovers in their 1st 3 games was 1977. They finished 5-9 that season.|
Team Stat Comparison
|Passing 1st downs||12||12|
|Rushing 1st downs||4||3|
|1st downs from Penalties||0||1|
|3rd down efficiency||5-14||6-15|
|4th down efficiency||0-1||0-1|
|Yards per play||4.9||4.8|
|Comp – Att||17-37||17-24|
|Yards per pass||4.9||8.0|
|Sacks – Yards Lost||5-35||3-29|
|Yards per rush||6.0||2.9|
|Red Zone (Made-Att)||0-2||1-4|
|Defensive / Special Teams TDs||0||1|
|FG||10:18||Jay Feely 47 Yd||0||3|
|TD||01:04||Michael Floyd 8 Yd Pass From Kevin Kolb (Jay Feely Kick)||0||10|
|TD||07:30||Larry Fitzgerald 37 Yd Pass From Kevin Kolb (Jay Feely Kick)||0||17|
|TD||00:00||James Sanders 93 Yd Fumble Return (Jay Feely Kick)||0||24|
|FG||05:07||Alex Henery 36 Yd||3||24|
|FG||00:02||Alex Henery 40 Yd||6||24|
|FG||03:52||Jay Feely 27 Yd||6||27|
|Philadelphia Kick Returns|
|Philadelphia Punt Returns|
Where were the Eagles exposed most in terms of deficiency by the Cardinals? This will be the big talk-show question of the week in Philly. There were occasional letdowns by the patched-up offensive line, I think we can agree on that. But there were also plenty of passing downs when Vick seemingly had all day to set up—but nobody was getting open. That situation is on the receivers running their routes and being able to adjust to tight coverage—it’s not all on Vick or the O-Line.
Also, take away the 3 lost fumbles— especialy the one returned by James Sanders 93 yards for a spirit-crushing TD at the end of the first half— and you would have had a very different ballgame. But the fumbles happened and were recovered by Arizona. Give the Cards credit. But also instill into the Eagles offense the lesson of the bad things that can happen when the ball pops loose… We dodged that bullet in the first two games of the 2012 season, but not against Arizona. Maybe taking better care of the ball now becomes priority one for the Eagles offensive game plan…
I know, that sounds corny and reactionary. But if I felt the Eagles were in any way overmatched in physical or mental talent by the Cardinals, I wouldn’t even bring it up.