The Arizona Cardinals are stunning the NFL world by making huge plays on defense and special teams against the highly-favored Baltimore Ravens. With more confidence, even Kevin Kolb is playing at another level. The Cardinals forced a fumble and scored. Returned a punt for a touchdown. And picked off Flacco and scored another seven points to take an incredible 24-3 lead.
On the first great play, O'Brien Schofield, one of two young linebackers getting playing time, beat his man around the edge with his speed and forced a fumble giving the Cardinals the ball at the two yard line. Two plays later and Beanie Wells was diving over the line for a touchdown to give Arizona a 10-3 lead.
On their next series, the Cardinals defense took advantage of the Ravens decision to throw the ball and got pressure on Flacco. The Ravens went three and out.
Following the defensive hold, dynamic rookie Patrick Peterson broke multiple tackles to return the punt for a touchdown. It was an incredible play by the young play maker and put Arizona up 17-3 and started the boos from the Baltimore crowd.
Making this crazy game even crazier, the Cardinals picked off Flacco on his next snap, giving the Cardinals the ball at the Raven 25 yard line. Kolb found Larry Fitzgerald for 13 yards and then made a fantastic back-shoulder throw to Early Doucet for a 10-yard touchdown pass.
The Ravens did a good job moving the ball down the field late in the half but Arizona got a big third down sack to force a field goal. Arizona takes a 24-6 lead into the half.
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton said that he would re-install big portions of the complex defensive scheme he was forced to remove after the first two weeks. The increased pressure and different looks are doing their job as the Cardinals are finally getting pressure on the opposing QB. It helps, of course, when you know the other team has to throw the ball.
It's young players for Arizona stepping up with OLBs Sam Acho and O'Brien Schofield playing well along with a tipped pass from rookie David Carter and of course the great TD from Peterson.
Baltimore had a 156-151 edge in total yards but the two turnovers and the Peterson TD have changed the game. Kolb is 6-12 for 126 yards with one touchdown and has been sacked three times. Flacco is 12-23 for 98 yards with an INT and two sacks. Beanie Wells has 38 yards on 10 carries while Ray Rice has 47 yards on 11 rushes.