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Big Steps Taken Against Chargers Despite Loss

Saturday marked the first home game for the Cards, and they did not let the opportunity to show off in front of their fans go to waste. It was an extremely entertaining game, but the game was also filled with important clues about what fans can look for as we move ever closer to the start of the regular season.

For starters, Kevin Kolb finally showed why he has been so sought after since losing his starting job in Philadelphia a season ago. He started slow, completing just two of his first eight passes, but once Kolb heated up, he was very efficient and showed good control of the offense, passing for over 200 yards on 11 completions and one score.

Based on his preseason numbers, Kolb looks he will be slow to roll out of the gates, which explains his previous mediocrity in short duty against both the Raiders and the Packers.

In perhaps the biggest play of the night for the Cards thus far in the season, Kolb hit an open Fitzgerald for an 80-yard strike of a touchdown. Fitzgerald outran two defenders on his way to the endzone, making for a spectacular exhibition of throw-and-catch for the first team offense.

The chemistry between Kolb and Fitzgerald will continue to be a work in progress as we inch towards the beginning of the regular season, but whatever they’ve been working on in Flagstaff has been working. I’m not sure if one play can erase memories of last season’s inability to throw the ball down the field, but one thing is for sure: the passing game has some pop in it again.

Observation number two from last night is the play of the offensive line, both starters and second unit alike. While the quarterbacks were sacked a total of four times, the line played very well, and finally developed some push on the opposing defensive line, creating room for the Cardinals’ running backs.

Saturday night marked the first time the Cards had a stable rushing attack to compliment the passing attack, rushing for a preseason high 167 yards. Beanie Wells rushed for 63 yards on 10 carries before being pulled from the game for LaRod Stephens-Howling, who added another 40 yards of his own, and provided a nice change of pace for the offense.

Defensively, the starters held the explosive Chargers offense to just 3 points in the first half, but gave up 28 points on their way to another loss Saturday night. The pass rush that was so fervent against the Packers simply did not come through for the Cards against the Chargers, as the team did not record a sack all night.

After “not having an impact” thus far in the preseason, 5th overall pick Patrick Peterson picked off his first pass against arguably a top 6 quarterback in Philip Rivers, and darted 34 yards to the endzone for his first NFL touchdown. His development as a rookie, especially in a season in which there was no offseason for him to get acclimated to the NFL, is moving along quite well. Expectations are high for him, but after watching his play last night, I know the coaching staff is thrilled to have a weapon like Peterson at their disposal.

The Cardinals have a few more kinks to iron out before the regular season opener on September 11 against the Panthers, but they are finally starting to look like the team fans and staff members expect from such a talented team.

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