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Week 2 Judgements: Cardinals aren't who we thought they are

by | Senior NFL Columnist
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Maybe, just maybe, the Arizona Cardinals found a quarterback after all. Kevin Kolb didn't just beat Tom Brady. He beat history, becoming the first quarterback to beat Brady and the Patriots in a home opener at Gillette Stadium. Yep, the Patriots were 10-0 before Sunday, and Brady was 35-1 there in his last 36 regular-season starts. Oh, well. Now, Kolb goes home where the Cards have won six straight and gears up for his own personal Super Bowl against the Philadelphia Eagles.

2. Guess there goes the quarterback controversy in Arizona. John Skelton, please take a seat.

3. With the victory, Arizona has nine wins in its last 11 starts. Nobody is better. Yes, there are teams as good -- with New England one of them -- but, as I said, nobody is better.

4. Don't tell me the NFC West is a joke. Not anymore it isn't. Not only is San Francisco the best team in football, but the rest of the division ... well, it went undefeated Sunday. That's right, the NFC West was 4-0 vs. New England, Detroit, Washington and Dallas.

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5. Welcome back, Greg Schiano. Now go home.

6. No question about it, that was a cheap shot on quarterback Eli Manning on the game's last play, a kneeldown. Schiano later said his teams "won't quit," and that's fine. But it was a kneeldown, for crying out loud. Get a clue, Greg. There's a time and place to take a shot at the quarterback, and that wasn't it. Coach Tom Coughlin let him know it, and good for him. He should.

7. It's not Blaine Gabbert's hamstring that bothers me. It's his right arm. Or maybe his head. He flat out stunk in that blowout by Houston, a game that was far too reminiscent of Gabbert's play last season.

8. Guess that Seattle loss to Arizona doesn't look so bad now, does it.

9. Yes, Robert Griffin III is a talent, but, no, no, no, Indianapolis should not have drafted him first ... and Andrew Luck just showed you why.

10. Sorry, but I have no idea why Washington coach Mike Shanahan had Billy Cundiff try a 62-yard field goal, either. I'd play the percentages, and, in my book, the percentages of RG3 converting a fourth-and-16 are greater than Cundiff nailing a 62-yard field goal.

11. I don't fault Cundiff for missing the kick. His career best is 56 yards. But I do know that Baltimore's Justin Tucker -- the guy who replaced Cundiff -- might've made it. He nailed a 56-yarder outdoors vs. Philadelphia that would've been good from 62.

12. Sam Bradford bashers said St. Louis was wrong to make a commitment to the guy after last season and to trade away the second pick of the draft (which Washington turned into Griffin). I want to hear them say that now. No question, RG3 could be sensational, but Bradford looks like the quarterback who nearly took the Rams to a division title in 2010 -- and that is nothing but good for a team that is tougher, more physical and more competitive under Jeff Fisher. Trust me, the Rams will be a tough out this season.

13. Early candidate for Coach of the Year: Sean Payton. Without him, the Saints just lost consecutive games to a pair of doormats that were a combined 11-21 last season.

14. Here's what I like most about San Diego's 2-0 start: Defense. The Chargers allowed only three touchdowns and 24 points. We all know the Bolts can score (they produced 38 Sunday without Ryan Mathews and Antonio Gates). What they couldn't do is stop anyone ... until now. Their first two opponents converted 25 percent of their third downs; last year's converted 49.2 percent. Advantage, John Pagano.

15. Include me among those who think that Aaron Hernandez's ankle injury is a big deal. A really big deal.

16. Buffalo fans waiting for a pass rush finally got their wish. The Bills had five sacks vs. Kansas City, with four by defensive tackles. That means that ... yep, we're still waiting for our first sacks by Mario Williams and Mark Anderson.

17. I'm not one to complain about replacement refs, but they were gawd awful in the Baltimore-Philadelphia game. They blew spots. They blew timeouts. They couldn't remember what down it was. In short, they were dreadful. Overall, I think replacement officials haven't been all that bad ... but these guys were, and you'd think a marquee game like Baltimore-Philadelphia would demand a marquee crew. Guess not.

18. One word for those holding stock in USC quarterback Matt Barkley: Sell!

19. Buffalo just found out how to minimize Ryan Fitzpatrick's mistakes. Run more and have him throw less. Fitzpatrick threw just 19 passes vs. Kansas City but was more effective ... far more effective ... than he was when he put the ball up 32 times vs. the Jets a week earlier.

20. The race is on for last in the AFC West, with Kansas City making an early push to beat out Oakland. But the Chiefs started 0-2 a year ago and were outscored 89-10. They're 0-2 again, this time by a combined score of 75-41, and here's the question: Is that progress? I think you know the answer.

FIVE THINGS I LIKE

1. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh's use of timeouts at the end of the first half. First his punt coverage team bottled up Philadelphia at its 6. Then Harbaugh used his second and third timeouts to stop the clock with 18 seconds left. That shouldn't have been a problem ... but it was after punter Chas Henry had a 38-yard kick returned 10 yards. Result: Baltimore gains three points it shouldn't via Justin Tucker's 56-yard field goal.

2. Detroit's Jim Schwartz shaking hands with Jim Harbaugh before Sunday's game. Everyone was waiting to see what happened when these two met again, and credit Schwartz for making the first move. He ran over to Harbaugh in pre-game warm-ups, extended his hand and left with a smile. Hallelujah.

3. Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis vs. Cleveland. He's 14-5 in the series, with his first victory as a head coach over the Browns. He also won seven of the last eight times they met. What's supposed to be "The Battle of Ohio" is more like a game of solitaire.

4. Pittsburgh in home openers. That was the Steelers' 10th straight, and it's no coincidence it happened with Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis at home. What little chance the Jets had for the upset disappeared when Revis disappeared. "We aren't scared of anybody," Pittsburgh wide receiver Mike Wallace proclaimed last week. Then the Steelers proved it.

5. Michael Vick on last-gasp drives. The Eagles are 2-0 because Vick is slick when it matters most. You can look it up: On fourth-quarter, game-winning drives vs. Cleveland and Baltimore, Vick was 10 for 16 for 125 yards and one touchdown. He also ran four times for 20 yards and another TD.

FIVE THINGS I DON'T

1. Side judge Brian Stropolo's common sense. He doesn't have any. The guy was supposed to officiate the Saints-Panthers game but was removed after ESPN discovered a photo of him on his Facebook page with his Saints gear on and with Stropolo identified as a New Orleans fan. Swell. One question: How in the world could Stropolo ever have thought that posting a photo of himself in anyone's gear was a smart idea?

2. Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson throwing a punch at Baltimore's Cary Williams and not getting tossed. That's not how it's supposed to go, people.

3. The New York Giants' defense. It was the reason Big Blue won two Super Bowls in five years, including 2011, but so far it looks downright ordinary -- with Tampa Bay putting up 34 on it one week after the Cowboys struck for 24. I know the Giants have cornerback issues, but get over it already. The Giants had to have 510 yards passing from Eli Manning to pull off a come-from-behind victory, and, no, don't get used to it.

4. Golden Tate's wipeout of Sean Lee on a Russell Wilson scramble. It wasn't a block; it was a demolition of a defenseless player. This is precisely the kind of shot to the head and shoulders the NFL is trying to eliminate. There should've been a flag. There wasn't.

5. The Cowboys' special teams. What is it about Dallas special teams in Seattle? They self-destruct. They fumbled a kickoff. They had a punt blocked. Their mistakes led to 10 Seattle points and helped sink Dallas.

FIVE GUYS WHO HAVE SOME 'SPLAINING TO DO

1. Baltimore offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Here we go again. Someone remind him that Ray Rice is in the huddle and that it's OK to give him the ball on third-and-fourth-and short. In the second half the Ravens had two third-and-2s, two third-and-ones and one fourth-and-1, and they never, ever gave the ball to Rice. Instead, they threw, with four incompletions and one interception. Please.

2. Washington WR Aldrick Robinson. He dropped a perfectly thrown fourth-quarter bomb that would have set up a sure Washington score. It was an easy body catch, but Robinson blew it. C'mon, Aldrick, you got to be better than that. I know Pierre Garcon would've made the catch, only he wasn't playing. Robinson took his place.

3. Washington WR Josh Morgan. First of all, he runs backward after making what could've been a first-down catch with just over a minute left. Then, after he's tackled, he goes stupid, stupid, stupid -- throwing the football at cornerback Cortland Finnegan while teammate Brian Orakpo holds his head in disbelief. Caution, Josh: It's mistakes like that that get guys cut.

4. Arizona RB Ryan Williams. When you're carrying the ball late, and your team is protecting a two-point lead, there are two things you never do: 1) Run out of bounds and 2) fumble. Williams didn't run out of bounds, but he did fumble, and he can thank Stephen Gostkowski it didn't cost Arizona an upset.

5. New England TE Rob Gronkowski. It was his holding penalty that wiped out a 30-yard touchdown run by Danny Woodhead that would've clinched a come-from-behind victory. OK, so it was a dicey call, but it was the right one.

JUST ASKING BUT ...

 If Rex Ryan is the best defensive coach in the game, what does that make Dick LeBeau?

 Why did ESPN discover a side judge for the Saints-Panthers game was a New Orleans fan before the NFL did? I mean, whatever happened to vetting?

  Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz?

 What is going on with Wes Welker?

 Why is Reggie Bush so much more effective now?

NUMBERS TO REMEMBER

3 -- Tim Tebow snaps vs. Pittsburgh
4 -- Eli Manning touchdown passes of 60 or more yards during the last three regular seasons, tying Aaron Rodgers for league high
6-0 -- Philip Rivers record vs. Tennessee
9 -- Philadelphia turnovers this season
13 -- Blaine Gabbert passing yards in the first half
15 -- Danny Amendola catches
23 -- Yards rushing for Oakland
604 -- Yards in New York Giants' offense, the second most in club history

MY TOP FIVE

1. San Francisco
2. Houston
3. Atlanta
4. Green Bay
5. Denver

MY BOTTOM FIVE

32. Cleveland
31. Kansas City
30. Jacksonville
29. Oakland
28. Tennessee

NEXT WEEKEND'S THREE BEST GAMES

  Philadelphia at Arizona ... Finally, it's Kevin Kolb vs. the QB who displaced him.

 Houston at Denver ... You make the call: Peyton or Wade Phillips' defense?

 New England at Baltimore ... Hard to believe: One of these two will be 1-2.

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