With most of the Raiders top players on both sides of the ball sitting on the sidelines, the Cardinals sailed through the Raiders defense in the first half of their preseason opener Saturday night. It was a commanding 17-0 lead into the final seconds before the Raiders were able to put points on the board with a last second field goal from Giorgio Tavecchio.
Carson Palmer marched down the field for an opening touchdown against a Raiders defense without Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. Cory James was racking up the tackles, but the Cardinals were racking up the third down conversion. And even when they finally stopped one, an illegal formation would give the Cards a first down. Three plays later, they would finish it off with a touchdown.
EJ Manuel took the field to start for the Raiders with Derek Carr sitting this one out. All other starting receivers sat with him. Manuel played well, going 6 for 6 to begin his day, and leading the Raiders into field goal range on the opening drive. But Sebastian Janikowski’s 51-yard attempt was partially blocked and missed right.
Palmer was replaced by Drew Stanton, who had similar success, going 11 of 15 for 112 yards and a touchdown. He drove the Cardinals to the Oakland 27-yard-line where Justin Ellis forced a fumble on a Karlos Williams run and Marquel Lee recovered it.
In total, the Cardinals had 8 first downs and were four of five on third down in the first quarter.
When the Raiders got the ball, they were faced with third and one and gave it to the smallest guy on the field, Jalen Richard, who was stuffed. Jack Del Rio chose to go for it on fourth and one and again handed it to Richard who was again stuffed for a turnover on downs.
The Cardinals took the ball and drove for another touchdown. Sean Smith continued his struggles on the drive, being called for his second penalty and later giving up a 26-yard catch. The Cards finished it off with Stanton rolling right and finding tight end Troy Niklas from 7 yards out.
The following drive, Manuel threw his first incompletion of the game on a deep incomplete attempt for Cordarrelle Patterson up the right sideline. Two plays later, the drive ended with a 9-yard sack.
Stanton would come back out for one more drive lead the Cardinals downfield for a field goal and a 17-0 lead. Rookie safety Shalom Luani nearly stopped it with a leaping pass defended in the end zone that should have been an interception.
With 1:05 remaining in the first half, the Raiders got the ball back looking to avoid the first half shuout. Manuel completed two passes to Jaydon Mickens for 15 and 6 yards and a gorgeous, over-the-shoulder grab by Clive Walford that went for 30 yards. Tavecchio came out and hit the 43-yard attempt wiht :02 left to send the two teams into the locker room with the score 17-3.
Cory James would lead the Raiders with 7 first half tackles to go with a couple of pressures to force incompletions. Manuel finished 10 of 12 for 107 yards and a passer rating of 103.8. Clive Walford was the leading receiver with 3 catches on 3 targets for 44 yards.
Covering the tight end continued to prove difficult, with Marquel Lee getting beaten several times.
Connor Cook came out to open the second half and went three-and-out. A sack by rookie Treyvon Hester on Blaine Gabbert would hold the Cardinals to a three-and-out as well.
John Crockett had a nifty 29-yard screen and then finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run off a cutback from right guard gap to left guard to get put the Raiders in the end zone for the first tie and bring it to 17-10.
A LaTroy Lewis sack helped hold the Cardinals to another three-and-out. The Raiders started to move the ball, driving into scoring range, but the drive ended with tight end Gabe Holmes fumbling the ball and the Cardinals recovering at their own 31.
The Cardinals would once again mount a drive, reaching the Raiders 17-yard-line before LaTroy Lewis had his second sack of the game and a Phil Dawson 43-yard field goal would put the Cards back up 20-10.
Connor Cook went just 10 of 21 for 82 yards and a passer rating of 58.0.
In the second half Treyvon Hester and Latroy Lewis each had 2.0 sacks and Shalom Luani put up 5 combined tackles (4 solo) to finish third on the team behind Cory James (7) and Marquel Lee (6).