Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald gathers in a pass in stride for a 34-yard gain late in the Cardinals' victory over Carolina last weekend.
The Cardinals were pinned back on their own 15-yard line on third-and-6, nursing a seven-point lead with a little less than four minutes left in the game.
And quarterback Kevin Kolb threw the perfect pass downfield to Larry Fitzgerald, one of the few times Fitzgerald was in single coverage. The pass dropped into Fitzgerald's waiting hands with Fitzgerald perfectly in stride.
"It was a long handoff," Fitzgerald said. "That's what we call the plays where you don't have to do anything. I finally got a look that was favorable, a good matchup, and that's what football is all about. It's a team game but it's each man winning his individual matchup. I was able to do it that time."
It was more than just an individual win, though. The 34-yard gain was a team win when it comes to picking up a big chunk of yardage. The Cardinals only had nine pass plays all of last season that covered as much ground as the pass to Fitzgerald, and Fitzgerald's catch was already the third one of the game against the Panthers.
The other two were the 48-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jeff King and the 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Early Doucet – almost equaling the mere three 40-yard-plus pass plays in 2010.
"That's what you work for, to make the big explosives," Fitzgerald said. "We had a couple of those. It is exciting for the ballclub and at home, it gets the fans excited and into the game. That is what Kevin is capable of doing, making things happen, recognizing the defense. He's got a lively arm and guys can make plays after the catch as well."
Quarterback Kevin Kolb threw for 309 against Carolina, and that was with Fitzgerald "only" gaining 62 while battling bracket coverage most of the time.
"I am never going to be a guy who throws to one guy," Kolb said. "Even if it's Fitzy and he's double covered, we have to go somewhere else. He understands that. That's what is awesome about this team. You don't get that everywhere."
That mentality allowed Kolb to find King and Doucet for the big plays – something that should come much more often this season.
GROSSMAN, POINT BLANK
The last time the Cardinals faced Rex Grossman, it was miserable for the quarterback and miserable for the Cards. Grossman had four interceptions and lost two fumbles back in the 2006 game, completing just 14-of-37 passes for the Bears as the Cards' defense dominated. Of course, that was the night that just enough things went wrong for the Cards that they lost the "Let 'em off the hook" Monday night game.
Grossman lost his starting job the next season and was never expected to find another one during his exile to Houston (where he barely played in one season) and then Washington. But Grossman, who hasn't played regularly since midway through the 2007 season) unexpectedly beat out John Beck for the Redskins this preseason. His statistics were similar to what Kolb posted in the opener: He completed 21-of-34 passes for 305 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
"You're going to pick the guy who gives you the best chance to win," Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said, adding that he never looked at video of Grossman in Chicago when deciding to sign him. "I just evaluated Rex when he was (in Houston), what he did in practice every day, and what he did in the game."
Grossman's past doesn't help the Cards either. "It really doesn't matter what he has done in any other offense," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "It's about how he operates this one."
A DIFFERENT KIND OF PRESSURE
The Cards benefit a bit because Grossman isn't anywhere near as mobile as last week's quarterback, Cam Newton. That should give pass rushers a little more freedom.
"I think you certainly have to be more disciplined about your rush lanes when you have a quarterback who can hurt you with his feet," Whisenhunt said. "When you face more of a pocket passer, your rush angles and lanes are different. But just because he's not Cam Newton doesn't mean he can't run for a first down. You still have to be disciplined.
"What we are trying to preach to our guys is we have to play a disciplined scheme. That's what hurt us last week."