What is the ceiling for the Arizona Cardinals?
Right next to me in the press box, our own Vince Marotta is furiously finding the top TV shows, songs and movies from the last time the Cardinals started a season 3-0; 1974.
(It was, by the way, a damn good year for movies. The Godfather: Part II, Chinatown, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein…the movie geek in me never takes a day off, never)
History too was on the mind of Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt. He slyly dropped a reference to James Harrison's interception return for a touchdown in Super Bowl 43. Clearly it is far better to receive than give when it comes to one of those length-of-the-field deals that break both the back and the heart.
The history on my mind though takes me back to December 6, 2009.
On Sunday Night Football, the nation watched as Kurt Warner and Arizona beat Minnesota -- who was 10-1 coming into the game -- 30-17. After the game Brett Favre, who was picked off twice and sacked three times, commented the Cardinals "played like they were in the Super Bowl last year." Warner said the win proved that "they can play with anybody; we can play with the big dogs."
I recall walking out of this stadium with that same limitless feeling. There was no ceiling for that team. Nothing -- not even a return trip to the Super Bowl -- couldn't be done.
It's a similar sensation now. It's boundless. The Arizona Cardinals, the (clearing throat) first place Arizona Cardinals are one of three 3-0 teams in the NFL. Cards broadcaster Dave Pasch made the point in the pregame show; you go 3-0 and you're talking about a magical season. Where is the ceiling for this football team? How good can they be? How far can they go?
To hazard a prediction on any of those questions is risky business to be sure but know this: they're good. Argue that the two wins against Seattle and New England were lucky but make no such claims about this Philly game. The defense treated Michael Vick like a piñata in the backyard. Seemingly everybody; Kerry Rhodes, Daryl Washington, Calais Campbell, O'Brien Schofield, Sam Acho and Quentin Groves took a whack with the stick. Five sacks, 13 quarterback hits, three forced fumbles. The defense continues to be exceptional.
Larry Fitzgerald did what he always does to the Eagles...dominate. First round pick Michael Floyd juggled his way into the end zone for the first time in his career. Forty-two of Ryan Williams' 83 yards came on the drive that bled the clock out; a measure of redemption after last week's fumble.
But if history is the theme of the game, then the game belongs to Kevin Kolb. History has not treated Kolb or the Cardinals well since the trade of a year ago. It's appropriate to look at everything given up to get Kolb (players, picks, money) and conclude that they were swindled. Truthfully, Kolb was never going to conquer that mountain and change all those minds by winning this game. And yet…
Beating his old team is a major plateau in that climb. He, and we, should all stop and admire the view for a moment.
If you want a history lesson, how about this one: exactly one month ago from Sunday, the Cards lost to the Titans in a preseason game that saw Kolb throw two picks, including the mind-numbing pick-six to start the second half. The journey from where they were to where they are -- a 3-0 start with Kolb at the helm -- seems quite literally impossible.
Yet here we are. And just like that December night three years ago I can't wait to see what's next.