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Arizona Cardinals

Updated Dec 4, 2011 - 7:48 pm

Kolb shakes off rust, has big second half in win over Cowboys

Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) looks to pass against the Dallas Cowboys during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2011, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Kevin Kolb entered the game 1-6 as a starter for a team that won three of four in his absence.

After 30 minutes of football, Kolb had led the Cardinals to just three points while completing 7 of 11 passes for just 44 yards, numbers that are anything but inspiring.

But then the second half arrived, and so did an entirely different quarterback.

Kolb completed 9 of 14 passes in the second half and overtime, racking up 203 yards and the game-winning touchdown pass to LaRod Stephens-Howling, improving Arizona's record to 5-7 while Kolb doubled his win total as a starter here in the desert.

"It was definitely a game of two halves," Kolb said.

Kolb said it took a little time to settle into the game, which is understandable after not playing in a game since October 30.

"I thought Kevin was a little rusty in the first half, I think getting used to the speed of the game," head coach Ken Whisenhunt said.

Whisenhunt, though, noted how impressive his quarterback was in the second half.

"It was exciting to see Kevin respond and play that way," he said.

Indeed, Kolb responded to his poor first half by making play after play in the second. Whether it was avoiding the rush and making plays with his feet or finding guys down the field, the QB showed poise and accuracy that had been lacking at times in his first seven games.

Also lacking in those games was the complete team effort seen Sunday, as the defense held a potent Cowboys offense down and, as per usual, special teams came up big, too.

"We put in ourselves, as an offense, say ‘hey look, let's find a groove,'" Kolb said. "I said that in the huddle before the first drive of the second half."

Maybe that's why the offense was better after the intermission? Whatever it was, Kolb looked more comfortable on the field and, as receiver Andre Roberts said, confident.

"He's been confident since he came into camp, that's just who he is," receiver Andre Roberts said of Kolb. "As the game went on, you could just tell he wanted to make a play for us."

And make plays he did, maybe none more important than the final play of the game, which was a screen pass that surprisingly did not go off without a hitch. The Cowboys blitzed on the play and Stephens-Howling, the intended target, had to alter his route, meaning Kolb had to buy some time.

"To escape on that last play, the screen pass, to escape that pressure and make the play to LaRod," Whisenhunt mused, "is what you've got to do in this league."

The other thing you have to do in this league is win games, which is something the Cardinals are starting to do with some regularity. With Kolb back under center, the hope - if not expectation - is for the offense to continue to grow.

But that's all for the future. The present is about the victory, which Whisenhunt said "takes a lot off" Kolb's shoulders.

"There has been a bunch of stuff piled on his plate and to see him handle everything the way he did [Sunday] and have success in the second half, that is what you have to do," he said. "Maybe the time for him away, the couple of weeks, were a chance for him to catch his breath and get comfortable with our scheme, was good."

And a comfortable Kolb is one that could seemingly keep getting better.

"It's very exciting to see that we have something to build on and build with him," Whisenhunt added.

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