Cards impress early, hold on to beat Raiders
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — John Skelton made the most of a brief opportunity. Kevin Kolb mixed some good with the bad.
And, after the Cardinals beat the Raiders 31-27 on Friday night, Kolb got a scathing review from Oakland defensive end Tommy Kelly, who sacked the Arizona quarterback for a safety in the first half.
“He is skittish. He is scared back there,” Kelly said. “Any time anybody gets close to him, he starts looking at the refs. As a defensive lineman, you love a quarterback like that. He ain’t even trying to look at the routes no more. He is paying attention to us, and you ain’t going to get nothing done like that.”
Skelton took just five snaps, but that was enough for him to throw the first touchdown pass for either quarterback candidate this preseason.
Oakland running back Mike Goodson, who fumbled the ball away twice, left later in the second quarter with a chest injury. Arizona starting left tackle Levi Brown was sidelined in the second quarter with a triceps injury. Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford also left early with a foot injury. Skelton’s 3-yard toss to a wide open Anthony Sherman was part of the Cardinals’ 17-point second quarter.
Coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t prepared to make any quarterback pronouncement.
“Not with only five plays for John,” Whisenhunt said. “I think I’ll have to get John some extended time this next week.”
Skelton entered the game after Oakland fumbled the ball away at its 23. He went 3 of 3 passing for 23 yards.
Whisenhunt said he didn’t want the starting offensive line to play in the second half and didn’t want Skelton playing behind the backups.
Skelton said he understood, grudgingly.
“There’s a little frustration but at the same time you kind of understand it,” he said. “They want to give everyone an equal opportunity but at the same time you can’t have the o-line in there for an extended period of time just to make everything equal. I kind of was a little mad about the decision but at the same time I understand it.”
Kolb was 3 of 3 for 22 yards in Arizona’s opening touchdown drive but was sacked by Kelly in the end zone on the Cardinals’ next possession. He completed 3 of 6 passes and was sacked three times.
Raiders backup quarterback and former Cardinals starter Matt Leinart left the game in the third quarter with a cut on the index finger on his right (non-throwing) hand after he took a late hit from Arizona’s Ricky Lumpkin, who was called for a personal foul on the play.
The Cardinals lost starting left tackle Levi Brown to a triceps injury in the second quarter. Whisenhunt said he would know more about the severity of Brown’s injury on Saturday.
Oakland running back Mike Goodson, who fumbled the ball away twice, left later in the second quarter with a chest injury. Raiders wide receiver Jacoby Ford also left early with a foot injury.
In a matchup of teams tied at No. 23 in the AP Pro32, Oakland had a 184-52 advantage in yards at halftime but trailed 24-11, thanks to two turnovers that resulted in 10 Arizona points. Another Cardinals TD came on a blocked punt as Arizona won for the first time in three preseason games.
“We have got to execute better. We’ve got to eliminate the turnovers,” Oakland coach Dennis Allen said. “The self-inflicted wounds , they are hard to come back from so we have to execute in that regard a lot better.”
Arizona’s Justin Bethel, a sixth-round draft pick out of Presbyterian College (enrollment 1,200), blocked the punt and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown. He later blocked an extra point.
Carson Palmer played the first half for Oakland, completing 13 of 24 passes for 107 yards. He was intercepted once.
Darren McFadden ran nine times for 34 yards for the Raiders (0-2), who scored their first touchdown of the preseason when Lonyae Miller ran in from the 1-yard line against the Arizona reserves in the third quarter.
Rookie Eddy Carmona kicked a 52-yard field goal for Oakland after Sebastian Janikowski booted three field goals and called it a night.
The Cardinals’ Ryan Williams, the second-year pro playing for the first time since tearing his right patella tendon in the preseason a year ago, rushed five times for 25 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown run.
“I can’t even lie, I was so nervous,” Williams said. “I felt like I was six years old again playing Pop Warner.”
Bethel’s blocked punt return capped Arizona’s 17-point second quarter.
Moments later, Goodson fumbled, and Stewart Bradley recovered for Arizona at the Raiders’ 23. Skelton threw 11 yards to Todd Heap on his first play, connected with Rob Housler for 8 yards, and then tossed to Sherman for the touchdown.
King boomed a 71-yard punt early in the game, but Patrick Peterson, who returned four punts for touchdowns as a rookie last season, returned it 46 yards to the Raiders’ 41. Kolb completed all three attempts for 22 yards, and Williams carried four times for 19, including a 15-yarder to the Oakland 5.
Two Oakland turnovers resulted in 10 first-half points for the Cardinals. First, Palmer overthrew intended receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Kerry Rhodes intercepted, returning it 66 yards to the Oakland 5 to set up Jay Feely’s 32-yard field goal.
On Arizona’s second possession, Kolb was called for intentional grounding, pushing the ball back to the Cardinals’ 1. On the next play, Kelly broke through to sack Kolb for a safety.
Following the subsequent free kick, the Raiders drove to the Arizona 23, and Janikowski’s 40-yarder gave the Raiders their first lead of the preseason, 8-5.