Ray Horton was smiling. “To beat a team that I respect a lot, it means everything,” Horton said in a locker room that featured a lot of happy people and more of Daryn Colledge’s ‘80s music. To beat the Patriots, on the road, “it’s what we want,” Horton said. “We actually want better, but a team like this, we want the win.”
Horton had to be happy. The Cards are a team built with the knowledge the defense must perform. And that’s what they did Sunday. The blitz-happy Horton barely blitzed, by design. No way the Cards wanted Tom Brady picking them apart (one of the times the Cards did bring the house, Brady threw his lone touchdown pass). They generated enough, even without the blitz, to sack Brady four times.
Horton praised his front men. The Cards have a whole lot of high picks invested in the front seven – Dan Williams as first-rounder, Campbell and Washington as second rounders, Dockett the top pick in the third round – and when you throw in the fourth-rounder Acho and former Jacksonville second-round pick Quentin Groves, you’d think they have the pedigree. They showed up.
The Cards put it on their defense in the fourth quarter. Just like Horton wants it. Or not.
“No. No. No,” Horton said with a smile. “I want to win games sitting back and enjoying them. But we tend to win close games. The guys responded to a gameplan. They executed flawlessly.”
Maybe not flawlessly. But to hold Brady and his bunch (as Kevin Kolb called them) to one touchdown? Pretty close.
— Some perspective: The Patriots have now played 81 regular-season home games at Gillette Stadium. That was only their 14th loss, and as noted, their first in a season home opener. It was also the first time Bill Belichick lost to a team in the NFC West since it was currently aligned.
— It won’t be considered Kolb’s best game. But he’s a different guy in the pocket, which is a huge step forward for him. He missed some throws definitely. He needs to be able to hit Todd Heap down the seam early – that looked like it would have been a TD, just like two similar misses to Rob Housler last season – and even coach Ken Whisenhunt lamented his poor low throw on what should’ve been an easy swing screen to LaRod Stephens-Howling that would have gone for big yards. But he did pick and choose his running spots, and (while he can’t lose a fumble) he called his own number twice, once to run for a first down and the other to run for a five-yard touchdown.
With this team, with this defense, I think Kolb can win. “We knew what kind of game this was going to be – we’ve been stressing it all week – stay patient don’t get greedy.” That’s how this is going to go this season. Grind it out.
— No, I don’t know who starts at QB if John Skelton’s ankle is healthy enough against Philly next week (although I won’t lie, that would stink to lose Kolb-vs-Eagles two years in a row.) My guess is Whiz will play it close to the vest all week again. So tell yourself that, and don’t be frustrated when he doesn’t make an announcement.
— Larry Fitzgerald got his first catch early Sunday but was shut out after that. He made what looked like a big grab late, but it was called incomplete and wasn’t overturned on review. Anytime you’re best offensive weapon and he is limited to one reception for four yards you can’t feel good. Then again, the last time Fitz was held to one catch – Christmas, 2010 – the Cards won that game too. So maybe it doesn’t matter.
(Relax. I’m kidding.)
— My brother texted me at one point later in the game, after cornerback Patrick Peterson made a big third-down tackle to force a punt, after he made his diving interception, after he ran the wildcat a couple of times, including a 17-yard run: “Is there anything Peterson CAN’T do!?”
No, Jason, there’s not. Even in the postgame interviews, if he fumbles a word, he takes time to restate what he was saying. You even get clean soundbites if you want.
— The Cardinals have won nine of their last 11. They haven’t had that kind of stretch ever since moving to Arizona. They nine of 12 in the end of 2007 to the beginning of 2008 They won nine of 14 from the end of 2001 to the beginning of 2002.
— Wait, you said you wanted to hear the field-goal miss in Spanish? OK, here you go.
— Ryan Williams promised the fumbles will stop, and they need to. That’s two in two games, but you have to be rooting for the kid. A win wipes out a lot, and to have someone else (that’s Stephen Gostkowski, if you weren’t sure to whom I was alluding) fail at the end doesn’t hurt.
“We’ve been through a lot of these situations, good and bad, just in my year and a half here, and we finally got a break our way,” Kolb said. “That’s going to happen. The good thing is, is that it was any ugly game; it wasn’t clean for us either. It wasn’t like we played a perfect game.”
Less than two hours until we land. I’ve been writing or doing something web related for more than three hours so I think that’s enough. There’s other things we could touch on, but that’s plenty after a day that turned out pretty good for the Cards.
Tags: Bill Belichick, Ken Whisenhunt, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson, Patriots, Ray Horton, Ryan Williams, Todd Heap, Tom Brady
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