The biggest worry for the Oakland Raiders (1-2) coming into their third-week game with the Arizona Cardinals (2-1) wasn’t their special teams. After losing to the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, 24-23, by allowing an opening kickoff return touchdown and three missed field goals, it will be their biggest worry for the coming week.
Sebastian Janikowski entered the game perfect from 30-39 yards since 2007, with 36 straight from inside 39 yards. That streak ended, and ended the Raiders’ hopes for a comeback win.
With less than four seconds on the clock, Janikowski attempted a 32 yard try that went wide left, and the game ended with Cardinals players celebrating their victory. On the day, the NFL’s highest paid kicker missed wide right on 58 and 41 yard attempts earlier in the game while making field goals from 22, 54, and 23 yards.On the opening kickoff, LaRod Stevens-Howling took the ball from two yards in the end zone, found a huge hole in the Raiders’ coverage, got past Janikowski on the left sidelines, and took it 102 yards for the first score of the game with just 14 seconds taken off the clock.
With the Cardinals quickly up 7-0, Bruce Gradkowski led the Raiders on their second possession possession to the first offensive score of the game. The three-play, 59-yard drive was aided heavily by an unnecessary roughness penalty on Adrian Wilson for 15 yards. Two plays later, Gradkowski threw a dart to Zach Miller for a 22-yard score.
One thing that did work for the Raiders was their punting game. Twice on the day, Cardinals blockers made contact with the punt which became recovered fumbles for the Raiders and a huge change in field position. In the first quarter, with the score tied at 7, Jon Condo was able to recover the first fumbled punt at the Cardinals’ 28 yard line. Janikowski converted a 22-yard field goal to finish that drive and give the Raiders a 10-7 lead.
The Cardinals stormed back on their next series. Beanie Wells had a 24-yard run, Stanford Routt was called for a 27-yard pass interference, and Jay Feeley nailed a 42-yard field goal to tie the game up at 10 with 3:55 remaining in the first quarter.
The ensuing kickoff, gave rookie Jacoby Ford an opportunity to shine with a 39-yard kick return to start the Raiders’ next drive at their 38. The Raiders could only move the ball to the Cardinals’ 37 before calling on Janikowski for a 54-yard attempt that was good. The field goal gave the Raiders another three-point advantage at 13-10 with 1:54 left in the first quarter.
As they had done earlier, Arizona came right back with a 12 play, 76 yard drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Larry Fitzgerald. The drive, which started in the first quarter, put the Cardinals up 17-13 with 10:36 to go in the first half.
The score remained 17-13 until the final 10 seconds of the half. After a seven play 69 yard drive by Oakland that lasted 2:30 seconds and featured Darren McFadden. McFadden had a 33-yard run and an 18-yard reception before finishing the drive with an off left tackle run for the two-yard touchdown score. The touchdown helped the Raiders go into the locker room at halftime with a 20-17 lead.
In the second half, both defenses made life difficult for opposing offenses. After 37 points were scored between both teams in the first half, only 10 points were allowed in the final stretch. Arizona scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:01 left in the third quarter on an eight-yard pass to Fitzgerald to cap a seven play 69 yard drive.
The Raiders would then have the ball for the next 20 plays of the game. After self-destructing on offense, the Raiders were faced with a 4th and 18 play at their own 27. Raiders’ Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler came on to punt and as his 45-yard punt hit the turf, a Cardinal ran into the ball. The live ball took a Raiders bounce towards the end zone and was recovered by Quentin Groves at the Arizona 16.
After a defensive holding and defensive pass interference, the Raiders were able to get to the Cardinals’ five yard line before the drive stalled out. Janikowski came on for the 23 yard field goal, and the Raiders had inched to within one point, 23-24.
The Raiders’ next drive stalled at the Cardinals’ 41, with just 4:36 remaining in the game. Raiders head coach, Tom Cable, chose to call on his strong-legged kicker for a 58-yard attempt — which went wide right and gave the Cardinals the ball at their own 48.
Arizona couldn’t move the ball, or take much time off the clock, as they gave the ball back to the Raiders after a touchback punt by Ben Graham.
With just 3:33 remaining in the game, from their own 20, the Raiders took over needing just one score to win. A 15-yard completion to Zach Miller on 3rd and 9 and a 12-yard pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey on 4th and 10, good fortune gave the Raiders a 39-yard pass interference call on a deep route to Heyward-Bey — putting the ball on the Arizona 13 with 1:02 left in the game.
On the next two plays, the Raiders positioned the ball for Janikowski’s 32-yard attempt and called a timeout with just four seconds remaining. After being wide right twice, Janikowski overcompensated to kick the would-be game-winning field goal wide left.
The Raiders will come back to Oakland next week to take on the Houston Texans (2-1) who lost their first game of the season to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday.