Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin hauls in the 79-yard touchdown reception that jump-started Arizona's 31-10 thumping of Miami Sunday.
At the end of pregame Sunday, a handful of key Cardinals got together before heading into the locker room and listened to a few final words from Anquan Boldin.
"This is one of those games you want to perform and perform well," the wide receiver told his teammates. "You want to put a team away early, and not give them a chance at all."
The message was simple. So too, as it turned out, was the execution.
With Boldin hauling in a 79-yard touchdown from quarterback Kurt Warner on the Cards' first offensive play, Arizona ripped the visiting Miami Dolphins, 31-10, in front of 63,445 fans at University of Phoenix Stadium. The win gave the Cards a 2-0 record for the first time since 1991, but the celebration was going to be muted – a team that should put an opponent away early also shouldn't rejoice two games into a season.
"I'm not saying getting excited over a win is ever a bad thing," guard Reggie Wells said. "But you can see a big difference in the locker room after this one. Guys are starting to expect to win. That's what separates the good teams from the bad teams, not going out and wondering what the outcome is going to be.
"I think that's a huge step forward."
The outcome was obvious from almost the start, from the time Warner's pass settled into the hands of Boldin. It became moreso the next possession, when wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald outleaped Will Allen for a jump pass and then raced downfield for his own 75-yard pass play.
It was the start of a dominating showing by the trio. Warner sliced up the Dolphins for a perfect passing rating of 158.3 – the third of his career, tying Peyton Manning for most ever in NFL history – as the veteran completed 19-of-24 passes for 361 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Boldin became the first Cardinal since Rob Moore in 1997 to catch three touchdowns in a game to go with his six catches for 140 yards. Fitzgerald had six catches for 153 yards.
Behind the passing, the Cardinals piled up 191 offensive yards in the first quarter alone and led 17-0 at halftime and 31-3 after three quarters.
Their effectiveness overshadowed a running game that never quite found its footing against the Dolphins (0-2), although Edgerrin James (18 carries for 55 yards) became the 14th player in NFL history to surpass 15,000 yards from the line of scrimmage.
"We felt we had a good gameplan coming in," Boldin said. "We had seen some things (on tape) we thought we could take advantage of."
The Cardinals' defense didn't force any turnovers after getting five in the first game, but the Cards again did not turn the ball over themselves. The Dolphins couldn't manage much offensively, with running backs Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown virtually moot after gaining 53 yards on a combined 22 carries.
Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington couldn't dent the Cards either, and it was rookie Chad Henne who came in late to lead Miami's lone touchdown drive.
"We've hit some adversity right now," Dolphins coach Tony Sparano said. "It's not going to be this way all the time – it really isn't."
The Cardinals have had their share of adversity over the years. Right now, they see it in the rear-view mirror, although coach Ken Whisenhunt said he didn't think team's dominance meant too much.
"We did what we were supposed to do today," Whisenhunt said.
While the Cardinals are at 2-0, chief division rival Seattle fell at home to San Francisco, giving Arizona an early two-game edge on the Seahawks. The Rams also dropped to 0-2.
"We know how to win now," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "I still don't give us enough credit yet.
"Keep in mind, we beat a team that went 5-11 (in 2007) last week and a team that went 1-15 (last season) today. We'll find out what type of team we have when we go on the road against a team like Washington."
That game comes next week, when the Cardinals travel to Washington for the first of back-to-back road games. After the game against the Redskins, the Cards will stay in Virginia for the week prior to their game in New Jersey against the Jets.
"There are plenty of teams that started out 2-0 and didn't make the playoffs," said defensive end Bertrand Berry, who had his second sack in as many games. "We don't want to look ahead or get the feeling like we've arrived."
Contact Darren Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted 9/14/08.