4:05 PM ET, September 23, 2012
U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ
At the season's outset, it didn't appear Kevin Kolb would get to face his former team in Week 3. Many would have believed it to be even less likely his team would enter undefeated.
An injury caused Kolb to lose his starting job to Michael Vick, and another one may be the reason he gets to square off against the man who replaced him as the Arizona Cardinals host the Philadelphia Eagles in a matchup of 2-0 teams Sunday.
Kolb was Philadelphia's No. 1 quarterback entering the 2010 season only to suffer a concussion in Week 1, and he'd never reclaim the role. While Vick took over and would win Comeback Player of the Year, Kolb was traded to Arizona that summer for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a draft pick before signing a five-year deal worth $63 million.
"The biggest thing I took is when it's high there, when things are going good, you can't buy into it because there is a lot of hype," Kolb said. "Everybody is patting you on the back, and when it's low, good gosh, is the sun going to come up tomorrow? Although it's not quite like that here, it is the NFL and that's the way it is nowadays. As a quarterback especially you have to be able to ride those waves and stay level-headed with every experience."
If Kolb starts again for John Skelton (sprained ankle), the man who beat him for the No. 1 job this preseason, he will try to lift the Cardinals to their best start since opening 7-0 in 1974 when the franchise was still in St. Louis.
Both teams are 2-0 for the first time since the seasons in which they last reached the Super Bowl -- Arizona in 2008 and Philadelphia in 2004 as part of a 7-0 start.
The Eagles are the first team in NFL history to begin with a pair of one-point wins despite committing nine turnovers -- three more than any other team. Vick has seven, including a league-high six interceptions, but he's thrown for more than 300 yards in both games and ran for the go-ahead TD with 1:55 left in last Sunday's 24-23 win over Baltimore.
"Just thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach as far as how many times we turned the ball over in two games," Vick said. "We just have to do a better job at holding on to the football. I have to do a better job with my decision-making and everything will work itself out."
While the Eagles being unbeaten may be surprising due to all the turnovers, it was surely a lot more unexpected from the Cardinals considering they had to visit defending AFC champion New England in Week 2. Kolb led them to a shocking 20-18 victory in his first start since Dec. 11, helped by the Patriots missing a 42-yard field goal with 1 second left.
One week earlier, Kolb came off the bench for an injured Skelton to hit Andre Roberts for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:59 to play in a 20-16 win over Seattle.
"The way things are going," Kolb said, "history tells us we might as well get ready for another two-minute drive to see who wins the game."
That was the case Nov. 13 in Philadelphia as Skelton, starting for the injured Kolb, threw his third touchdown pass with 1:53 to play to give the Cardinals a 21-17 win. Vick rushed for 79 yards but was held to 128 through the air with no TDs and two interceptions, the last coming with 33 seconds left.
Larry Fitzgerald had 146 receiving yards and two TDs that day, but the six-time Pro Bowler had one catch last Sunday and his 67 yards for the year is his lowest two-game total since the 2009 season.
"I'll get my opportunities," Fitzgerald told the team's official website. "When they come, I've got to make my plays."
The Eagles secondary, led by former Pro Bowl cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Rodgers-Cromartie, has yet to allow a wide receiver to catch more than three passes.
The Arizona defense has played well, allowing only two touchdowns and 3.4 yards per carry. Linebacker Daryl Washington tops the NFL with 21 solo tackles, and Calais Campbell is the reigning NFC defensive player of the week after totaling 10 tackles and two sacks against New England.
The Cardinals have seven sacks and are facing an Eagles offensive line which just lost starting center Jason Kelce (knee) for the season.
Arizona has won nine of 11 dating to last season but enters Sunday with the league's lowest-ranked offense at 251.5 yards per game. Kolb has thrown for only 206 but has no interceptions.
"We have to put the pressure on (Kolb)," Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham said. "That's what we saw happen to him here. When you put the pressure on him, he's a different guy. But if you let him sit back there, he can pick you apart a little bit."
This is the Eagles' first visit to Arizona since a 32-25 loss in the NFC championship game in 2009 as Fitzgerald had 152 yards with three TDs.
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After watching film of both teams, Scouts Inc. breaks down key elements of the Week 3 Eagles-Cardinals matchup.
• The Eagles must protect the football: In the past 50 years, only four teams have turned the ball over at least four times in each of their first two games and won both games. The Philadelphia Eagles can't afford to continue that trend if they hope to win many more. The play-action pass seems to be the Eagles' top weapon; thus far, QB Michael Vick has completed all 15 of his passes off the play-action fake. It's the threat of Vick or one of his backs running with the ball that freezes the secondary long enough for Philadelphia's receivers to break free.
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|Avg Points Allowed||22.0||13.3|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||PHI|
|Rush Yds Allowed||PHI|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Arizona leads 5-3|
|Nov 13, 2011||PHI 17, ARI 21|
|Jan 18, 2009||PHI 25, @ARI 32|
|Nov 27, 2008||PHI 48, ARI 20|
|Dec 24, 2005||PHI 21, @ARI 27|
|Nov 17, 2002||PHI 38, ARI 14|
|Nov 4, 2001||PHI 21, @ARI 7|
|Oct 7, 2001||PHI 20, ARI 21|