GLENDALE (AP) – Fittingly, Arizona’s 24-23 victory over Oakland on Sunday ended with a big mistake.
The game was littered with them.
Sebastian Janikowski’s errant 32-yard field goal as the game ended allowed the Cardinals to escape in their home opener, a game Oakland had repeated chances to win in the final minutes.
The kick, after a 39-yard pass interference call against Arizona’s Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, was wide left. Janikowski missed two others in the game, a 41-yarder and a 58-yarder. Both were wide right.
LaRod Stephens-Howling returned the opening kickoff 102 yards for a touchdown for Arizona (2-1) and Derek Anderson threw two touchdown passes, including an 8-yarder to Larry Fitzgerald with 1:01 left in the third quarter that proved to be the game winner.
Oakland (1-2) committed 11 penalties for 123 yards, Arizona seven for 104.
New Raiders starting quarterback Bruce Gradkowski was 17 of 34 for 255 yards and a touchdown with one interception. He threw 12 yards to Darrius Heyward-Bey on fourth-and-10 from his own 36 to keep the final drive alive. But he also was the main culprit in a delay-of-game penalty after another pass interference call — this one against Arizona’s Greg Toler — gave the Raiders the ball first-and-goal at the Arizona 1-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.
The penalty pushed the ball back to the 6 and Arizona’s defense held, forcing Oakland settle for Janikowski’s 23-yard field goal that cut the lead to 24-23 with 7:59 to play.
Later, Gradkowski’s 35-yard pass to Louis Murphy helped Oakland advance to the Arizona 35, where Janikowski — who has a career-long 61-yarder and had booted a 54-yarder earlier in the game — set up for a 53-yard try. But a false start against left tackle Mario Henderson pushed the ball back 5 yards for a much more difficult 58-yarder attempt. Janikowski had the distance, but was just wide right.
Two of Oakland’s field goals came after Raiders’ punts bounced off the legs of an Arizona player — first Matt Ware, then Rodgers-Cromartie.
Oakland’s Darren McFadden gained 105 yards in 25 attempts, giving him 345 yards rushing in the first three games of the season.
Anderson completed just 12 of 26 for 122 yards and was intercepted once but was 3 for 3 for 41 yards on the drive to the deciding touchdown. Beanie Wells, in his first game of the season after sitting out two games following arthroscopic knee surgery, gained 24 yards on his first carry and finished with 75 yards and 14 attempts. Teammate Tim Hightower had 40 in 11 carries, including a 13-yarder in the final touchdown drive.
Anderson’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Steve Breaston put the Cardinals up 17-13.
The Raiders took a 20-17 halftime the lead with a 7-play, 69-yard touchdown drive, culminating with McFadden’s two-yard scoring run with 10 seconds left in the half.
Arizona had driven to the Oakland 33 after Gradkowski’s pass bounced off the hands of Arizona’s Kerry Rhodes and was intercepted by Paris Lenon at the Cardinals 34. But Anderson, under pressure, tried a shovel toss toward Hightower. It bounced off the big running back’s hand and was intercepted by Quentin Groves at the Oakland 31.
McFadden took over from there. His 33-yard run moved the ball to the Arizona 25, then his 22-yard pass reception set up his short scoring run.
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