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Oakland Raiders vs Arizona Cardinals: First team defense dominates opening half

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are at the all important 3rd game of the preseason, the game where the starters will play the most and give us the best preview of the team they will field in the regular season. The game started out with the Arizona Cardinals receiving the football first, but their possession did not last long thanks to Nate Allen.

Carson Palmer missed a throw into the flat (which reminded everybody of his time in Oakland) that was deflected and intercepted by Allen. The play was originally ruled incomplete because the ref believed Allen had bobbled the catch but it was overturned after review. The Raiders took over inside field goal range, which was lucky because they only gained three yards before Sebastian Janikowski kicked the 49 yard field goal to make the score 3-0 Raiders.

The two teams traded off quick 3 and outs before the Cardinals eventually got a little something going on offense. Their drive really was pretty much one long pass play to Larry Fitzgerald that got the Cardinals into field goal range though. The drive ended on a 3rd and 1 play that had half the Raiders defense in the backfield where Khalil Mack stripped the ball.

Though the Cardinals recovered the fumble, it forced a 54 yard field goal attempt after a loss of 4 on the play. The field goal attempt wasn't even close as it landed far short of the goal post. Unfortunately the Raiders next drive was another ugly three and out so they didn't capitalize on any momentum created from the defense. Even worse, Michele Tafoya reported during the drive that Menelik Watson sustained an ankle injury that had him visibly upset after a trainer examined him on the sideline and they had to take him to the locker room. Not good.

The Raiders defense again was swarming though, they were all over Carson Palmer forcing yet another 3 and out. It looked like another poor showing from the offense before they converted a 3rd and 16 with a throw into traffic that was caught by TE Mychal Rivera. The drive stalled at the 15 yard line though so out came Janikowski to boot an easy 33 yard field goal through to make the score 6-0 Raiders at the end of the 1st quarter.

The Cardinals were driving well in their next drive which culminated in a 53 yard field goal that made the score 6-3, this time the kick had more than enough leg after switching sides on the field. However, the drive looked destined for more when they threw a flag to call a ticky tack pass interference in the endzone penalty on DJ Hayden but they decided not to call the penalty after a group discussion. On the 3rd down play after that rookie Mario Edwards Jr. overpowered his man to get a hold of Carson Palmer for the first sack of the day to force the long field goal. Khalil Mack got in at the end just to let Palmer know that he was still there too.

The Raiders responded to the field goal with their biggest play of the day, a 32 yard catch and run from Marcel Reece. The ball was even a little under thrown but Reece was able to snag the ball low and keep running. A first down to Mychal Rivera, some terrible runs from Trent Richardson, and a bullet pass out of bounds that was near impossible to catch followed that. Luckily the Reece reception was enough to get into field goal range though and Janikowski successfully kicked yet another field goal, the 42 yarder made the score 9-3 Oakland.

The Raiders defense continued to stifle the Cardinals offense while the Raiders offense continued to fall completely flat over the next few drives. On one of the drives Khalil Mack again made his presence felt dominating former Raider Jared Veldheer from one side and then sacking Carson Palmer on 3rd down from the other side. The play of the defense had Chris Collinsworth gushing about how good they look under Jack Del Rio.

On the following drive the Raiders finally got Amari Cooper the ball where he could show some of his skills. He caught a ball on the sideline and took off spinning and carrying pro bowl CB Patrick Peterson on one play, and then caught a similar pass for another first down on the following play to get inside the 10. Unfortunately, they settled for another field goal to make it 12-3 Raiders after Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree were just off on a 3rd down play where Crabtree got open in the back of the end zone.

On the first play of the next drive there was a miscommunication with Carson Palmer and his receiver that had his ball overthrown where Nate Allen came up with his 2nd interception of the day, and he had a nice little return too to the Cardinals 29 yard line. They had a couple of successful WR screens in the flat get them half way to the goal before they again fizzled out.

Janikowski trotted out and kicked the 32 yard field goal to go 5 for 5 on kicks in the first half and made the score 15-3 with just over 30 seconds left in the half. The Cardinals managed to get the ball into Oakland territory before the end of the half despite a still ferocious pass rush from the Raiders. It didn't matter though, because the Raiders have Khalil Mack and Khalil Mack is awesome. The final play of the half was another sack from Mack and it sent the teams to the locker room with the Raiders maintaining the 15-3 lead.