The Cardinals had the ball on their own 20, trailing the Redskins for the first time since about midway through the third quarter.
In his career, Kevin Kolb had engineered all of zero game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. His team down 22-21 with just 1:45 left, this would have been a good time to lead his first.
The Cardinals thought it was going to happen.
“We really did,” the QB said when I asked if the team was confident they were about to embark on such a drive. “The look in the huddle was great and it’s really unfortunate we didn’t get an opportunity.”
Chansi Stuckey fumbled after a 12-yard pickup, ending any opportunity for the Cardinals to rally and win an early-season road game. Thing is, just like the team, I was confident Arizona was going to march down the field and score.
It’s amazing what having a quarterback does for a mindset.
I’ve been slow to jump on the Kolb bandwagon, refusing to purchase a ticket while others were busy lining up a few months back. Unproven, I saw the Cardinals paying a fortune for the guy because he was “the best QB on the market,” even if the market was known to be rather thin.
And while the secondary certainly misses Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (and their coverages, really), it’s impossible to argue that the team is worse off because of the trade.
Hell, through two games the new QB has completed 61.4 percent of his passes and thrown for 560 yards, with four touchdowns and just one interception. He’s connected on big plays and taken hits, and you better believe his teammates appreciate both.
“It means a lot,” tight end Jeff King said. “You know you can follow a guy into war, into battle with somebody like that as your leader.
Strong words, but not the only endorsement.
“He’s a tough guy and I’m excited to have him back there,” running back Beanie Wells said. “I’m proud to say he’s one of my teammates.”
Was I wrong about Kolb? Well, don’t consider this to be my mea culpa. We’re not at that point quite yet.
It’s too soon to say with any certainty, but I’ll admit this much is true: simply having him on the roster, especially in place of what the team had last season, has impacted the team in a far greater way than I ever anticipated.
Because one can see, to a man, how much everyone in that locker room respects No. 4.
That goes a long way, as belief in the QB is vital to the team’s success, and it was missing all of last season.
And maybe that’s why the optimism over Kolb should not come as a surprise. When you are following in the footsteps of someone who kept tripping over himself, simply walking in a straight line would be good enough for most.
But you can tell it’s more than that with Kolb and this team. Whether it’s his ability to find and connect with the open receiver, make big plays downfield or just keep getting up after taking big hits, it’s obvious the team has faith in their leader.
Give him another chance in the game’s final minutes, and chances are good the QB will reward them with the first game-winning drive of his career.