GLENDALE, Ariz. - As much as Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb tried to treat Sunday's showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles as just another game, his Cardinals teammates knew better.
They knew he relished the opportunity to prove the Eagles made a mistake by dispatching him to the Cards in favor of Michael Vick a year ago.
"This was a big week for Kevin," Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. "As his teammates, we wanted to come out and play hard for him because we knew what this game meant to him. He really wanted it."
He got it.
Kolb played very well while Vick struggled mightily in the Cardinals' 27-6 victory at University of Phoenix Stadium.
"It feels good," Kolb said. "It really does. I'm going to enjoy it, don't get me wrong. But this is a huge win for the entire team."
Kolb completed 17-of-24 passes for 222 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions and a quarterback efficiency rating of 127.4. Vick hit on just 17-of-37 passes for 217 yards with no touchdowns. He lost two fumbles and had a quarterback rating of 64.8
Vick also took a lot of punishment, suffering five sacks and 13 hits overall.
"I wish I could tell you what the problem was today," Vick said. "I just now that we have to play better and that starts with m. I have to give a lot of credit to the Arizona Cardinals. They played a great game. We just have to go back to the drawing board and figure it out."
Kolb had little trouble figuring out the Eagles' defense, though he also benefited from a little luck.
His first touchdown pass, an 8-yarder to rookie wide receiver Michael Floyd, came after the pass caromed off middle linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was traded to the Eagles in exchange for Kolb, also had a shot at the ball before Floyd grabbed it.
Kolb also threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Fitzgerald.
"I think Kevin played great today," Vick said. "I think he came out and played the way he was supposed to play. He did a great job of leading his football team and putting points on the board by squeaking some out, some way. We have to find a way to do the same thing."
Kolb's biggest asset has been his ability to avoid game-changing mistakes.
Vick has not done that.
Kolb has thrown 92 passes without an interception and has not committed a turnover this year. Vick has thrown six interceptions and has lost three fumbles. Cardinals safety James Sanders returned one Sunday 93 yards for a momentum-changing touchdown at the end of the first half.
"I wish I had all the answers," Vick said. "We just have to regroup, find a way to cut back on the turnovers and find a way to put points on the board to help our defense."
The victory marked the latest accomplishment in Kolb's up-and-down NFL career.
The Eagles made him their top pick in the 2007 draft in hopes that he would be Donovan McNabb's successor in two or three years. When Kolb finally got his opportunity to be the starter in 2010, he suffered a concussion in the first half of the Eagles' opener against Green Bay. Vick took over and played so well that season that the Eagles gave him a $100 million contract and traded Kolb to the Cards in exchange for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a draft pick the following offseason.
Then Kolb's career took another turn. He struggled with injuries last season and then lost his starting job to John Skelton during the preseason this year. When Skelton sprained his ankle in the opener against Seattle on Sept. 9, Kolb rallied them to victory. He then engineered last week's upset at New England.
"Right now, I just want to stay focused," Kolb said. "I've tried to foresee the future in the past and every time I've tried, something comes up and knocks my legs out from under me. I'm just going to stay humble and keep working just like the whole team."
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