We have been here before with the Arizona Cardinals. After their Week 2 victory against the New England Patriots, I started my Monday morning column in a similar fashion.
The Cardinals were outgained by the Miami Dolphins 480 to 297.
The Cardinals picked up zero first downs on the ground to five by the Dolphins.
The Cardinals averaged 1.9 yards per rush to 3.0 yards per rush by the Dolphins.
Michael Vick and Tom Brady combined to throw for 533 yards against the Cardinals and Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw for 431.
Dolphins wide receiver Brian Hartline had more receiving yards against the Cardinals than Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker and DeSean Jackson combined.
At the end of the day, Arizona improved its record to 4-0 with a 24-21 victory over the Dolphins in overtime.
The difference this time was two huge fourth down completions from Kevin Kolb to Andre Roberts on the final drive of regulation, the second of which was a touchdown pass that sent the game to overtime with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter.
None of that would have been possible though if it weren't for a colossal play-calling mistake by Fins rookie head coach Joe Philbin. Miami was sitting in Cards territory and Arizona had all three timeouts left on what could have been the final drive of the game. Reggie Bush had been given the ball on the three previous plays, breaking off runs of seven, 15 and two yards. Despite the gaudy yardage numbers from Tannehill, he had already committed two costly turnovers through the air. Philbin put the ball in the rookie's hands on second down and he did the one thing he couldn't do, turn the ball over. If the Dolphins run the ball two more times, at worst, Ken Whisenhunt is forced to use two of his three timeouts, or the clock would have ran to below the two-minute warning. You then punt and force Arizona to drive the length of the field. This was the turning point in the game.
Whatever you want to call it -- luck, good fortune, fate or destiny -- the Arizona Cardinals have it going for them right now.
Where the Cards do deserve credit is that teams are given opportunities to win games in the NFL every single week and they aren't able to take advantage. This team has made the most of their second, third or sometimes fourth chances.
For the fourth straight week this season, the Cardinals found a way to win a football game in which you were able to find flaws.
Maybe this is what the NFL is today. No team is perfect, every team has holes. The best coaches and the best teams are able to disguise their problems and work around them.
So far, Coach Whisenhunt and crew have been able to do that. You are what your record says you are no matter what anyone pontificates.
4-0, first place in the NFC West and tied for the best record in the NFC are all on the Cardinals resume.
Another area that needs to be addressed is the Cardinals offensive line. After being able to hide their struggles to protect the passer through three games, Kevin Kolb was sacked eight times on 48 pass attempts. In the first three games, the Cards offensive line only allowed six sacks. Arizona was able to limit the amount of pass attempts, only throwing the ball 29 times per game through Week 4. Falling behind 13-0 in the first half, offensive coordinator Mike Miller wasn't afforded the same luxury in this game. This is an ongoing issue and concern.
Western Hemisphere ... A look around the NFC West
The San Francisco 49ers took advantage of a battered and beaten New York Jets team, demolishing them 34-0. I can't read too much into this game. As a longtime Jets fan, this might go down as the worst post-Bill Parcells team (the Jets have two different timeframes, BP "Before Parcells" and AP "After Parcells"). Jim Harbaugh's squad did whatever they wanted.
The St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks battled it out in the Edward Jones Dome and the Rams were able to hold their home field. Both teams are 2-2 and very evenly matched. For the second straight week, St. Louis was given a lucky break by the schedule-makers. They got the Seahawks at home on a short week after a Monday night game and now they get the Cards at home on a short week for a Thursday night game. Be interesting to see if they can take advantage again.
- The fantasy football world returned to normal on Sunday. After struggling through much of the first three weeks, your top three in points scored this week were Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Finally a return investment on your first round pick or big money buy in the auction.
- What an incredible final drive by Robert Griffin III to lead the Redskins to a comeback victory. Great note from his post game press conference, he pulled it off with his headset going out. On a side note, on the road in Tampa Bay, the visiting team's quarterback headset magically went out on the final drive???? I think this might not be a coincidence and I would hope the NFL looks into it.
- To me the biggest difference between the regular refs and the replacement refs aren't the calls. The regular refs make a ton of mistakes, also, but the flow and control of the game is so much better.
- Ron Rivera, you have a monster at quarterback in Cam Newton. Please use him and put the game away on fourth-and-one instead of letting the Falcons get the ball. Brutal decision.
- Andy Reid is still a trainwreck with his use of timeouts and challenges. This isn't going to make any sense, but there isn't another coach who is so good and so bad at the same time. It really is incredible.
- The AFC South and NFC South have two of the three undefeated teams in Atlanta and Houston. Outside of those two, the combined records of the other six teams is 5-18. Say hello to your #1 seeds in each conference for the playoffs.
- For the second straight year, the Bengals are feasting on a weak schedule. I thought they would be a prime drop-back team, but they keep winning the games they're supposed to win.
- Michael Vick had a zero turnover game Sunday night against the Giants. Be interesting to see if he turned the corner or if he will go back to his ways from the first three games.