The Oakland Raiders started their preseason off by receiving the opening kickoff against the Arizona Cardinals, and with that our first look at the 2016 Raiders was upon us. It was a pretty sloppy start for the Raiders, their only first down came on the first play from scrimmage on a pass from Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree. After that they had a failed run, 2 penalties and a wide open Amari Cooper was led to far to the outside leading to an incomplete pass along the sidelines from Cooper not getting both feet in bounds.
Sean Smith nearly had a pick 6 on the 2nd play from the Cardinals offense but he dropped it after reading the pass perfectly. Unfortunately the Cardinals then got their first down on their 3rd down play and followed that up with a big 30 yard pass to receiver Malcolm Floyd and a 23 yard run by 2nd year RB David Johnson. The Raiders didn't break after the Cardinals got into the red zone though, and a 3rd down pressure from Khalil Mack forced a throw away from Palmer. The Cardinals then booted the chip shot 25 yard field goal through the uprights to take the lead 3-0.
Oakland's training camp star Johnny Holton returned the kickoff from deep in the endzone to the Raiders 35 yard line so they had pretty good field position to start their next drive. A great 22 yard catch from Michael Crabtree on 3rd down kept the Raiders drive alive. It was questionable whether Crabtree got both feet in bounds with control so it was challenged by the Cardinals but the play stood as called. That would be the only first down the Raiders got on the drive but it got them far enough down field to try a 53 yard field goal that Sebastian Janikowski nailed to tie the score at 3.
With Carson Palmer out after just the one drive it was back up QB Drew Stanton that came out to lead the Cardinals next drive. Mario Edwards Jr. had a nice run stuff on the first play of the drive but was injured on the play, he limped off the field with the help of Khalil Mack. Another run and an incomplete pass after that led to the first Arizona punt of the game, it was covered (awkwardly) by rookie DeAndre Washington at the Raiders 23.
It was Matt McGloin coming out for the Raiders at QB for their next drive, Derek Carr's day was done after leading the field goal scoring drive last time Oakland had the ball. The Raiders got a nice 12 yard run from RB Latavius Murray followed by a 5 yard run by FB Jamize Olawale, both runs featured huge holes created by the Raiders line. After that though the offense faltered and had to punt after a failed run from Olawale and an incomplete pass.
However, the Cardinals fumbled the punt return and it was recovered by Johnny Holton at the Raiders 19 yard line. The very first play after that was a beautiful touchdown pass from McGloin to a wide open TE Clive Walford to make the score 10-3. Special teams plays like that fumble recovery from Holton surely will help him make the squad, he already is on the fast track to making the team after his solid off-season with the team.
The Raiders covered the following kickoff great and smothered the return man at the 12 yard line. Then the first play for the Cardinals was an overthrown pass right into Raiders S Nate Allen's hands, and Allen returned the interception to the 12 yard line where the Raiders offense took over. The 2nd play from scrimmage after that for Oakland was another awesome throw to WR Andre Holmes who made an awesome, foot dragging catch for another quick touchdown. Just like that it's 17-3 Raiders.
Again the kick returner for the Cardinals was smothered by the Raiders return team at the Arizona 17 which ended the 1st quarter. This time the Arizona offense was able to get going though with a nice first down pass right off the bat. They followed that up with a long 35 yard run from RB Andre Ellington, a 32 yard pass to their TE Troy Niklas and then a 5 yard TD run by Ellington. The quick response made the score 17-10.
A touchback had the Raiders start at their 25 yard line, the first time we are witnessing the touchback rule change that has places the ball at the 25 instead of the 20 this year. Oakland didn't do anything with the ball though, they had their first 3 and out of the game. There was an obvious defensive pass interference on 3rd down that was called offensive interference instead, something that had the entire Arizona sidelines laughing because it was such a terrible call.
The Cardinals followed their good luck up with a 3 and out of their own though. The Raiders got a really nice punt return by another UDFA rookie WR that has been making waves at training camp named Jaydon Mickens, but it was called back for holding. The first play of the drive was a nifty 25 yard run from DeAndre Washington who hit a big hole at full speed and then put a nice shifty move on a would be tackler to get an extra 10 yards on the play. It didn't matter though because Andre Holmes fumbled the ball back to the Cardinals just a couple of plays later.
Arizona's next drive was led by QB Matt Barkley and featured a nice 14 yard run from their back up running back Kerwynn Williams and a 16 yard screen pass to another running back of theirs named Stepfan Taylor to get into field goal range. However, their kicker kicked it wide left so the score remained 17-10. No harm, but still a big foul from Andre Holmes for his fumble that could have cost the Raiders big had the Cardinals been able to score after the turnover.
Oakland was unable to get a first down on their drive after the missed field goal so the Cardinals got the ball back at their own 25 after Marquette King's 57 yard punt was returned 11 yards. Arizona did get into Raiders territory but eventually floundered and had to punt. The Raiders didn't had an incomplete pass and then decided to run the rest of the clock out to finish the half with the 17-10 lead.