Cardinals sack Vick 5 times in 27-6 rout of Eagles
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Arizona's defense battered Michael Vick all day -- knocking him to the turf, stripping the ball from his hands. Kevin Kolb was sharp from the start, reconnecting with Larry Fitzgerald while winging passes all over the field.
The Cardinals may have been far from perfect, but they played well enough to keep their record that way.
Kolb threw a pair of touchdown passes and James Sanders returned one of Vick's two fumbles for a 93-yard touchdown, lifting the Cardinals to a 27-6 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday for Arizona's best start in 38 years.
"We've played well, but we haven't played out best," said Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes, whose sack on Vick set up Sanders' fumble return on the last play of the first half. "That just shows how good this team plays together."
Kolb was sharp in his first start against his former team, throwing for 222 yards on 17-of-24 passing. He guided the Cardinals to a 24-0 halftime lead, in part, by reconnecting with Fitzgerald, who had one catch against New England last week.
The guest conductor for the Phoenix Symphony on Thursday, Fitzgerald kept the high notes going by catching 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, sacking him five times and knocking him to the ground at least a dozen times.
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.
"I'm going to enjoy it, don't get me wrong, but the biggest thing is being 3-0," Kolb said. "Being 3-0 with the teams that we've played and the fashion that we've won, it's been exciting."
The Eagles' season had been, too -- until they ran into Kolb and his Cardinals.
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.
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, 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."
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 preseason battle with John 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 Patriots.
Skelton returned to practice late this week, but was limited and couldn't go Sunday.
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 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 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."
NOTES: Arizona has at least two sacks in nine straight games, the longest current streak in the NFL. ... Philadelphia played without WR Jeremy Maclin (hip) and LT King Dunlap (hamstring). ... LaSean McCoy was Philadelphia's leading rusher with 70 yards on 13 carries. ... Arizona also won seven straight home games from 2007-08 and set the franchise record with nine straight in 1925.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)