For the first time on quite some time, toughness has arrived inside the Cardinals’ building.
Toughness arrived when J.J. Watt arrived and when he made one of his first orders of business to stand in awe and reverence in front of Pat Tillman’s locker.
Toughness arrived when Rodney Hudson arrived. Football teams that are tough up the middle are unlikely to fold when the going gets rough.
During the Cardinals’ exciting 19-16 win over the Cowboys at home in pre-season game one. toughness arrived on the very first defensive snap when rookie ILB Zaven Collins stormed his gap and delivered, in an impressively athletic fashion, a tempo-setting tackle for loss.
Toughness arrived when rookie Rondale Moore was planting his foot and racing the ball upfield for as many yards as he could find.
Toughness arrived when Jace Whittaker and Marco Wilson were bringing textbook mirror and pass breakup techniques in pass coverage.
Toughness arrived when Tanner Vallejo and Evan Weaver piggybacked on Zaven Collins’ downhill attack of the football by delivering stops of their own.
Toughness arrived when Eno Benjamin and Greg Dortch surged upfield for as many yards as they could get on kickoff and punt returns.
Toughness arrived when rookie safety James Wiggins whipped past two blockers to make a big-time stop on a punt return.
Toughness arrived when QB Chris Streveler (pictured above) beat the Cowboys’ relentless pass rush by bolting through the middle and finishing off his run by lowering his shoulder on the free safety.
Toughness arrived when G Sean Harlow threw a superb block that sprung Eno Benjamin for a sweet cutback red zone TD.
Toughness arrived when NT David Parry stacked and jacked up the Cowboys’ center to make three statement tackles on the interior.
Toughness arrived late in the game when the Cardinals fell behind for the first time when Chris Streveler led the offense on a game tying drive, thanks in part to a laser like throw into a tight window and superb, high concentration catch by Greg Dortch.
Toughness arrived when the Cardinals’ defense forced Cowboys’ QN Ben DiNucci to throw three straight incompletions, the third of which was thanks to tight coverage by LB Terrance Smith.
Toughness arrived following a nifty 7 yard punt return by Greg Dortch when on a key 3rd and 5, Chris Streveler on a speed option, made a textbook pitch to RB Tavien Feaster for an 8 yard conversion and then when Streveler delivered couple of crisp completions to WR JoJo Ward to get the Cardinals in FG range.
Toughness arrived when thanks to a perfect snap by Aaron Brewer and effective hold by Andy Lee, plus precise blocking and timing up front, Matt Prater capped off a 4/4 FG debut by nailing the game winning 47 yarder.
You want pretty?
Toughness is the prettiest thing in football.
Especially when toughness arrives when it is needed most.
And most auspiciously when toughness is handed off from one teammate to another like a baton.
This is what toughness looks like —- every player doing his job: