|Raiders once again beat Cardinals, winning exhibition opener 27-23|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 11 August 2007 19:23|
Andrew Walter threw a touchdown pass to Mike Williams and Hiram Eugene scored on a 36-yard interception to lead Oakland to a 27-23 victory Saturday night in coach Lane Kiffin's first game with the Raiders.
The Raiders had little to feel positive about last season when they lost the final nine games and set a franchise record for losses in a 2-14 campaign that led to coach Art Shell's firing.
Tempering the enthusiasm after this win was the fact that one of those victories was a 22-9 decision Oct. 22 at home against Arizona. Oakland also won its first four exhibition games last year before falling apart once the season began.
Kurt Warner threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson on his only drive of the game and Neil Rackers kicked a 59-yard field goal off the infield dirt on the final play of the first half for Arizona.
New coach Ken Whisenhunt played quarterback Matt Leinart only one quarter and running back Edgerrin James just two series in the game. Leinart finished 5-for-11 for 50 yards and James carried twice for 3 yards.
Third-string quarterback Shane Boyd got most of the playing time and threw the interception that Eugene returned for a score to make it 14-7 early in the second quarter. Boyd scored on an 8-yard draw on Arizona's opening drive of the second half.
Rackers added two more field goals to give Arizona a 23-21 lead, but Sebastian Janikowski's 27-yard field goal, set up by a 50-yard pass from Daunte Culpepper to rookie Johnnie Lee Higgins put Oakland back ahead with for good 8:10 remaining.
The Raiders were without No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell, who is in a contract dispute with the team. That left the quarterbacking duties to Josh McCown, Walter and Culpepper.
After failing to convert a first down on his first two drives, McCown put together an 80-yard touchdown drive that was fueled mostly by Arizona mistakes. The Cardinals committed three penalties for 39 yards on the drive, negating a false start, lost fumble and third-down incompletion.
Darnell Dockett was called for a personal foul for shoving Cooper Carlisle after a false start, Bertrand Berry was offsides on a play McCown fumbled away a shotgun snap, and Antrel Rolle was called for pass interference in the end zone on a third-and-13 pass to Doug Gabriel. Dominic Rhodes ran it in from the 1 on the next play.
The best offensive plays of the drive were a 14-yard pass to Williams on third-and-7 and a 13-yard run by Rhodes. McCown finished 5-for-9 for 42 yards, completing five of his final six passes.
Walter engineered another scoring drive to end the half, capped by a 3-yard pass to Williams, who outjumped Darrell Hunter for the ball. Williams, a former top 10 pick who struggled in two seasons with Detroit, is hoping to revive his career in Oakland under Kiffin, his assistant coach in college at Southern California.
Eight of Walter's first nine passes went to tight ends or running backs as a premium was placed on getting rid of the ball quickly.
Culpepper entered to a standing ovation with 9:38 left in the third quarter and promptly fumbled the snap from Jeremy Newberry. Rookie Alan Branch recovered to set up a field goal by Rackers that made it 21-20. Culpepper fumbled again on the next drive but the Raiders retained possession.