TEMPE, Ariz. – Kevin Kolb is back, and he led the resurgent
Arizona Cardinals to their biggest win of the season. After a rusty
start, Kolb hit his stride after halftime in Arizona’s 19-13
overtime victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cardinals went 3-1 in Kolb’s absence, but two of those wins
came, barely, against NFC West bottom feeder St. Louis and the
other over the reeling Philadelphia Eagles. Kolb was out to show
his return would not slow the team’s momentum.
The offense sputtered, and Kolb missed some potentially big
plays, as Arizona fell behind 10-3 at the half, but Kolb was 7 for
11 for 203 yards after that, capped by the 52-yard swing pass play
to LaRod Stephens-Howling for the winning score.
The second-half provided a much-needed performance to show Kolb
might well be worth what the Cardinals gave up to get him from the
Eagles, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round
draft pick, not to mention the five-year, $63 million contract,
with $21 million guaranteed _ that the quarterback signed after the
Without the benefit of an offseason, he struggled mightily to
master coach Ken Whisenhunt’s offense. He guided Arizona to a win
in the season opener, then the Cardinals lost six in a row.
Kolb sustained a right turf toe and bruise on the side of the
same foot on Oct. 30. The injury was frustratingly slow to heal
before he was able to practice all last week.
“Friday practice, it felt so good I knew it wasn’t going to be
an issue,” he said. “I didn’t have any worries and our training
staff does a good job at what they do. I thought when the bullets
were flying I would be fine.”
The players had Monday off and Whisenhunt said he had not seen
Kolb to ask how the foot responded. Kolb indicated after the game
he didn’t expect any problems.
“I’m fine,” he said Sunday. “I’ll be a bit sore tomorrow,
obviously, after a month off, but I’ll be totally fine. I have no
energy left because it was an emotional second half, but everything
else will be good.”
Whisenhunt said at his Monday news conference several of Kolb’s
passes were “the kinds of things that you’re looking to see that
you get really excited about.”
“I think he got a better feel for the game as it went on, and
the speed of the game,” the coach said. “It was really nice for
him to make those strides as far as the way we’re running our
offense. That will give us confidence going forward, especially if
we can continue to run the football.”
Amazingly, at 5-7, the Cardinals are only two games behind the
wild-card leaders with four to play. Next up is a visit by the NFC
West champion San Francisco 49ers, who dominated Arizona three
weeks ago 23-7. John Skelton was benched in that game after
throwing three interceptions.
The 49ers seem to have a healthy respect for Kolb.
“Most definitely. Kolb is a gunslinger,” cornerback Tarell
Brown said Monday. “He’s been a gunslinger since his college days.
He’s a great quarterback. He does a lot of great things for their
team, so I definitely think they’ll throw the ball a little more,
try to get (Larry) Fitzgerald in the game a lot more like they did
this past week.”
Kolb, who also had a pair of big runs in the game, is just happy
to be part of the team’s resurgence.
“We were 1-6 and we were playing just as hard … fighting just
as hard as we were the first week,” Kolb said. “You don’t see
that everywhere and that’s a big reflection of our leadership, our
coaches, and the players we have in the locker room. We just need
to keep plugging and keep getting better.”