The ‘Battle of the Birds’ was never close. The Arizona Cardinals (3-0) jumped out to a 24-0 halftime lead and cruised to a 27-6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
“We are obviously really pleased to get the win today,” head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “I thought we played very well as a team in all phases. That was a very good football team we played.”
The first quarter couldn’t have gone better for the Cardinals. Following a Jay Feely 47-yard field goal, the Red Birds got the ball deep inside Eagles after long snapper Mike Leach fell on Demaris Johnson’s fumble following an Arizona punt. Eight plays later Kevin Kolb connected with rookie Michael Floyd for an eight-yard scoring strike (Floyd’s first regular season touchdown). Following Feely’s PAT, it was 10-0 at the end of one.
Midway through the second quarter, following a punt deep in Eagles territory, Kolb hit pay dirt again finding Larry Fitzgerald who snuck behind Pro-Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha for a 37-yard score. It was Fitz’s ninth career touchdown in five games against Philly. Earlier in the quarter, he became the youngest receiver in NFL history to reach 700 career receptions.
The biggest story of the first half was the play of Ray Horton’s defense who swarmed and harassed Vick (6-13, 59 yards, sacked twice), while keeping talented running back LeSean McCoy in-check (two carries, seven yards), as well.
With the Eagles inches from the Cards goal line, safety Kerry Rhodes came off the edge sacking Vick. reserve safety James Sanders, filling in for the injured Adrian Wilson, scooped up the loose ball and sprinted 93 yards down the Cardinals sideline to make it 17-0 going into the half.
“Coach called a good play,” Rhodes said afterwards describing the sequence. “I just came free and was able to get the ball out.”
The Eagles finally got on the board when Alex Henery connected on 36-yard field goal capping a 13-play, 77-yard drive after the Cards opening drive of the second half stalled around mid-field. Henery’s second field goal, from 40 yards, made in 24-6 going into the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals responded with a clock-chewing 13-play, 62-yard drive ending with a Feely 27-yard field goal making it 27-6 with under four minutes to play. Running back Ryan Williams, filling in for the injured Beanie Wells who left with a toe injury, had 25 and 11-yard gallops to help extend the drive.
Vick finished 17-37 for 217 yards. He fumbled twice and was sacked five times finishing with a quarterback rating of 64.8.
Kolb, Vick’s former backup in Philly, 17-24 for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He did not throw an interception. He has not turned the ball over in three games.
“That’s the thing that we’ve harped on a lot,” Kolb said regarding protecting the ball. “It’s okay to punt. We don’t like it…but to have that kind of mentality, sometimes it is okay especially when your defense is playing that good.”
Fitzgerald was his favorite target, catching nine balls for 114 yards and a score.
The Red Birds are 3-0 for the first time since 1974.
“We’ve played well, but we still haven’t played our best,” Whisenhunt explained. “That just shows how good this team plays together, and we really are a team.”
The Cards will look to stay perfect when they host the Miami Dolphins (1-2) next Sunday.