There comes a time in every team’s existence that their reputation is on the line, the ability to rise above and prove to the world that they are legitimate, official. Failure to do so results in being labeled a fluke, a chance phenomenon that disregards any past successes that may have happened.
Desperate to prove that the team we were all introduced to last year was and still could be a championship team, they soared to new heights this evening and without a doubt earned their wings, executing a near flawless game plan as we watched quarterback Kurt Warner clinch a tie for team record on most consecutive passes completed to start a game.
Going 15-for-15, Warner tied the record of Jake Plummer, who set the franchise mark in 1998 against the Washington Redskins.
Arizona proved their ability to win the time of possession battle with a long drive right at the onset of the game, with running back Tim Hightower powering in a one-yard touchdown after a long and relentless 6:53 of ball dominance.
Arizona's defense was strong, holding the Jaguars back from retaliating. Two field goals soon followed, one for each of the contending teams, bringing the first quarter score to 10-3, Arizona.
In an intense turn of events during a Jacksonville field goal attempt, the ball was blocked by Arizona, and one of the year's best video highlights was soon played out.
Bringing the ball back an amazing 83 yards, FS Antrel Rolle ran it in for a touchdown, officially lighting the fire under the already heated wings of the Cardinals.
Next, Arizona showed their quick-strike ability with a drive of 68 yards in a short 1:18, something that had just taken them almost seven minutes to do in the first quarter. Finalizing it with a five-yard pass from Kurt Warner to RB Jason Wright for another touchdown, the score reflected 24-3 Arizona at the end of the first half.
By now the crowds were on fire, cheers radiating from the stands and exuberant (Arizona) or exasperated (Jacksonville) coaches rushed into the locker room to elicit more action, more intensity, give us more!
Jacksonville head coach Jack Del Rio was likely less than pleased when he soon realized he was facing the largest home halftime point deficit at this time, trailing by 21 points and with no promise of a turn around.
Third quarter certainly was not void of action, with rising-star Larry Fitzgerald effortlessly receiving a 22-yard pass from Warner and running it in for the third touchdown of the game.
Frustrated with their lack of a scoring drive, the Jaguars pounced on an opportunity to score soon thereafter, with TE Marcedes Lewis bringing in a 25-yard pass from Jacksonville Quarterback David Garrard for the team’s first of two touchdowns in their own territory.
The fourth quarter, despite being marked by a Jacksonville 19-yard touchdown pass from Garrard to wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker on third and long, was clearly owned by the Cardinals. Even pulling the sack-less Warner to allow him to rest his tiring shoulder, the victory was in their hands long before the end of the clock ran down announcing it.
Refusing to celebrate until CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted Jacksonville Garrard’s pass with only 2:25 left on the clock, Warner had been on the sidelines preparing to return to the game to finish what he so accurately started.
Despite the success of the team and the heralded win after going 0-5 during the preseason, the team had some childish mistakes in the first half, with five fumbles being notched in their belt in the first half an hour before getting their act together by the second half.
It was enough to bring the win home for the Cardinals, their first since the Conference Championship game of 2008 against the Philadelphia Eagles.