Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie who?
It took one play on Saturday night to make me, and most fans, ask that same question and it wasn't just because I have bad memory. That single snap just happened to be one of Patrick Peterson's first as a member of the Arizona Cardinals starting defensive unit—thanks to a torn left ACL suffered by starter Greg Toler—and he made the most of it.
After entering the game late in the first quarter, Peterson tracked Pro Bowl quarterback Philip Rivers' eyes, stepped in front of tight end Antonio Gates, intercepted the pass and took the ball back 34 yards to the house. As visions of Deion Sanders and Aeneas Williams danced down the sidelines in my head, it was abundantly clear why the Cardinals invested the No. 5 pick in the young man. It was also a moment Rivers didn't see coming at all.
"On one of the timeouts [Philip Rivers] was like ‘where the freak did you come from?'," Peterson told reporters Saturday night. "So, I don't think he saw me."
Where the freak did he come from indeed (and yes, Rivers actually said freak). But more importantly where exactly are you going in the future? Likely to more than the one Pro Bowl Rodgers-Cromartie made.
Rivers may not have seen him, but all of the Birdgang sure did. While Larry Fitzgerald jumped for joy as he followed Peterson down the field from the sidelines, so did fans at University of Phoenix Stadium, in sports bars and in their homes across the Valley. In a mere 10 seconds, the fact the team dealt DRC should have become all the more palatable for the naysayers.
The moment was a lot like ones fans of the Batman and James Bond movie franchises have experienced. For years Batman fans lamented how Michael Keaton was the best Dark Knight to ever put on the batsuit while Bond fans clamored for Sean Connery's well dressed 007. The second fans saw two relative unknowns like Peterson, Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader and Daniel Craig accept his license to kill, on the silver screen, they all but forgot about their previous favorites.
Peterson's pick-six was that first moment we really had a chance to see what the first-round pick could do and it looks like he just might be a leading man.
One interception in a preseason game doesn't make a career, but it sure made an impression. Peterson was sold to us all as the ‘most NFL ready' player in this year's draft. He showed that last Saturday and if he keeps it up, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be nothing but a footnote—with painted toenails—in Cardinals history and just a distant memory in fans' minds.