Cardinals QB Kevin Kolb said he woke up at 6 a.m. Sunday morning, staring
up at the ceiling going over plays.
While not everything in Sunday’s game with Carolina happened the way it
was drawn up — on his ceiling or anywhere else — as far as debuts go,
this one would have to be considered a success.
Kolb completed 18 of 27 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns, Patrick
Peterson returned a punt 89 yards for the game-winning score and the
2011 Arizona Cardinals began their season with a 28-21 victory.
They’ll take it. All of it.
“We can learn from this, I’m happiest that we were able to win the football
game. That, to me, is something that we needed to do,” Cardinals head
coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
While Week 1 is rarely what one would call a “must win,” dropping to 0-1 in
front of 60,627 fans looking for a fresh start in the desert would have
been, as then-Cardinal-now-Panther Derek Anderson might say, “not
But the Cardinals, with the help of players who weren’t around last season
as well as big plays that were also missing in 2010 did win the game, and
at the end of the day that’s the most important thing of all.
Then again, Kolb said, the Cardinals “were lucky to win a game like that.”
Luck may not be the right word, but the Cards certainly did all they could
to make things difficult on themselves.
So in a way, the 2011 Cardinals, at least through one game, are not much
different from last year’s squad – and really every other version since the
team moved to Arizona in 1988.
Except, of course, for the final score. That is a new wrinkle.
“I’m not exactly sure that we would have won that game last year,”
They wouldn’t have.
No, last year’s Cardinals would not have received a similar effort from any
of its four QBs, the strong running game led by Beanie Wells or
contributions from eight different receivers.
It would have continued to allow Cam Newton, who threw for 422 yards on
the day, to continue doing his best Aaron Rodgers impression as he consistently
avoided the rush and found targets downfield.
Offensively the Cardinals were clicking; defensively they were a sieve.
Though to be honest, most of the damage seemed to be of the self-
inflicted variety. To a man, everyone in the Cardinals’ locker room
lamented what could have been.
“We are just trying to get on the same page,” defensive end Calais Campbell
said. “It was simple things that we can correct pretty easily.”
“Every mistake we made is fixable, and that’s on us,” veteran linebacker
Paris Lenon added.
“I think this game the score doesn’t indicate how we played the game,”
Wells said. “The game shouldn’t have been that close and we just have to
clean it up.”
But that’s just it: even the most pessimistic of Cardinals fans would have to
at least be a little excited about what they saw Sunday afternoon.
After all, the Cardinals scored 28 points but could have easily had at least
six more. A fumble at the Carolina four along with a missed field goal cost
the team no fewer than six points, and 394 yards of offense really show
what this team is capable of.
“As long as we recognize things like that and we keep getting better,” Kolb
said, “I mean this is six weeks.
“We have come a long way but we still have a long way to go.”
Just how far they have to go is anyone’s guess, but there is an air of
confidence surrounding the team and it’s largely due to the new signal
“Great quarterback and great in the huddle,” Wells said of No. 4. “The sky is