It may have only been a pre-season game, but the Arizona Cardinals showed their fans more than enough to keep the excitement building for the regular season opener in two weeks. The Cardinals lost the game 34-31 on a late touchdown by the Chargers, but what’s most significant are some of the highlight plays that signal bigger things ahead for Arizona.
Consider the following significant FIRSTS:
The first Kolb/Fitzgerald touchdown bomb: It was a pretty play, quarterback Kevin Kolb fades back in the pocket, buys a little time and then fires a strike to the streaking Larry Fitzgerald who runs past the defenders for an 80-yard touchdown – the initial TD connection between the pair.
“That was the first of many, hopefully,” Kolb said of the touchdown following the game. “It was a no-huddle, a call on the line. We have been working on it, and that is the kind of stuff we want to get to, where we can communicate things once we get up there.”
This is why the Cardinals traded for Kolb and the initial results are looking very promising. He completed 11 of 20 attempts for 205 yards and a touchdown. Further, Kolb showed the poise and elusiveness to buy time and avoid a pass rush. Cardinals fans should be excited about the future.
The first Patrick Peterson interception and touchdown: The Cardinals first-round draft pick stepped in front of a Philip Rivers pass and returned it for a 34-yard touchdown that gave Arizona a 17-3 late in the first quarter. Peterson’s athletic ability and talent will play a key role in the team’s success this season.
“He’s a rookie, and they went after him a little bit in the first half,” Coach Ken Whisenhunt said after the game. “He’ll learn from it. Obviously he is explosive. He will get there. He works at it and it means a lot to him.”
The rookie from LSU, who many think was the best athlete in last Spring’s draft, is one reason the team was able to trade Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for Kolb before the start of training camp.
The first chance to see Peterson return a punt: When the Cardinals drafted Peterson, Coach Whisenhunt said the team would use him in punt return situations. Saturday night, the team saw the flashes of speed and ability that they were looking for as Peterson took his first return of the night back 23 yards. Watch for more of Peterson as the season progresses.
The first appearance of new quarterback Kevin Kolb at home: The Cardinals new quarterback received a warm welcome and immediately made an impression with fans connecting with Fitzgerald on an 80-yard first quarter bomb. While it was the longest TD reception of Fitzgerald’s career, it won’t officially count because it was a pre-season game. However, fans saw something in a Cardinals quarterback missing last season – confidence, ability and poise.
The Cardinals close out the pre-season Thursday at home against the Denver Broncos.