It was expected the Ravens were going to put a lot of pressure on Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb. What most didn't expect, however, was Kolb to respond to that pressure.
Yet through one half, that's exactly what the Arizona starter is doing. For the second week in a row, a 1-5 team is putting the Ravens to the test as the Cardinals hold a 24-6 lead at halftime.
Kolb, who is still trying to find his groove in his new offense, has thrown for 126 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, however, he's not backing down from a relentless defense that has registered three sacks and held Arizona's running game to a minimum.
Oddly enough, it's the Cardinals defense that's paved the way for Kolb and Co. Following an exchange of field goals by both teams, Arizona's defense took charge, forcing a fumble by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco deep in Baltimore territory, which lead to a 1-yard run from running back Chris "Beanie" Wells.
Then, following a defensive stand, rookie Patrick Peterson returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown, putting the Cardinals ahead 17-3. On the ensuing drive, Flacco was intercepted by cornerback Richard Marshall, setting up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kolb to Early Doucet.
In short, it's been all Arizona so far. Its rush defense started very sluggish, allowing the Ravens to average nearly seven yards per carry. Fortunately, with an early double-digit lead, the Ravens have had to switch to the air, where Flacco is struggling for the second straight week. Flacco is 12-of-23 for 98 yards but has surrendered two turnovers.
Moving forward, it's important the Cardinals keep to their gameplan, using stud wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald to stretch the field and the running game to keep the Ravens off balance. Fitzgerald has yet to find the endzone, but came close when he and Kolb hooked up for a 66-yard completion that went deep into the red zone.
Defensively, Darnell Dockett and the Cardinals front four need to keep Flacco out of sync and hope to sure up that run defense. Baltimore's offense is struggling, but it only takes a quick strike or a long run for that to change.
We'll see as the Ravens will receive the ball to start the second half.