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Typical "meaningful" #3 preaseason game. Questions: Pass Pro...Will Stanton Rebound?...Thomas vs. Sims...Running Attack...Will we see Chris Johnson for the first time?...Golden vs. Shipley (if we keep 6)...The NT's...The Pass Rush...Our #4 Corner...
Cards Overcome 1H Funk/Backups Lead Cards to 2H "W."
The Bottom Line:
Card offense looked sluggish on its first few possessions. Palmer faced relentless pressure - Veldheer (& later on Humphrey) couldn't handle Kahlil Mack. Runners averaged somewhere around 2.5 YPC. Cards were kept bottled up with mediocre field position for most of the first half, but a gritty defense managed to keep Oakland out of the end zone and forced them to settle for five straight Janikowski field goals. Cariel Brooks turned the momentum on its ear by picking off a Carr pass in the flat deep in Cardinal territory and lugging it 81-yards for the first Cardinal score. Stanton made his first appearance with 6:09 left in the 3rd quarter and answered any questions as to whether he could bring his last year's mojo to the 2015 season. Phillip Sims played most of the 4Q and looked every bit as good as he did a week ago. Logan Thomas came in with 2:18 to go and - after having to deal with some horrendous pass blocking letdowns - was able to lead the Cards to their final TD. Star of that winning 4Q drive was TE Ifeanyi Momah - who, in addition to springing Cardinal runners with a couple of key blocks, executed a couple of highlight reel tackle-breaking runs after the catch where he seemed carried half the Raider defense on his back to pick up key drive-protecting first downs
To address the questions posed leading up to the game: Palmer had a subpar evening. Cardinal pass protection remains a concern. Humphrey (who reminds me of former rookie DE Jomo Cousins - remember him? Big and athletic, but was more a pusher than a hitter) got beaten repeatedly and poses a threat to any QB we dare put out there. Chris Johnson didn't play. Dan Johnson, though not as dynamic as a week ago, looked pretty good. If we keep 6 receivers, Golden will make the 53-man roster. The emergence of Momah removes some of the pressure to bring back Nikklas or Gresham too quickly. Defense kept Oakland's starters out of the end zone. Our Front Seven was deadly against the run. Our DB's were aggressive in man coverage (Our one breakdown was when Bettcher dialed up a rare"Rush 3/Soft Coverage" look.). Kareem Martin racked up one sack where he appeared to "fly" like Superman up the A-Gap on a twist. On the play-before, Ta'amu came up the middle to sack Ponder. All three of our inside guys (Gunther, X Williams and Ta'amu) looked good. Okafor had a strong game (both as a pass rusher and holding contain).
Cards drew first blood in the first quarter on a 17-yard Palmer-to-Jon Brown TD completion. Palmer was sacked twice in the first two Cardinal possessions.
Cards received. after Palmer picked up a quick 1st down, he over-threw Fitz in the left flat. Nate Allen returned it to the Card 34. But the defense held tough and Oakland settled for a 49 yarder by Janikowski. . Raiders 3 - Cards 0.
TB on the KO. The two teams exchanged 3 & outs. Cards returned punt to their 20. Palmer led the Carfds to the Oakland 32 (key pass was a 26-yarder to Fitz). D Johnson fumbled on a running play. Catanzaro's 54-yard attempt fell short. Oakland took over on their own 44 and the two teams exchanged 3 & outs again. Raiders managed to move to the Card 15, where Janikowski was good from 33-yards. Raiders 6 - Cards 0.
TB on the KO. Cards picked up one-yard on an Ellington run to end the quarter.
1st Quarter Score: Raiders 6 - Cards 0.
A 10-yard (nail-biting) Palmer scramble and a 39-yard deep throw to John Brown moved the ball to the Raider 28, but Mario Edwards sacked Palmer for minus-7 yards and we settled for a 53-yard Catanzaro FG. Raiders 6 - Cards 3.
TB on the KO. A 41-yard completion to Reece (over Johnson) helped set up a 42-yard Janikowski FG. Raiders 9 - Cards 3.
K Williams returned the KO to our 21. Palmer went 3 & out. The two teams exchanged one more set of 3 & outs. 4:35 left. Carr moved his team to the Cardinal 9, where the Raiders settled for one more Janikowski FG.. Raiders 12 - Cards 3.
1:15 left. On the first play from scrimmage, Palmer's deep pass for Nelson was picked off by N Allen (again). Raiders started from the Arizona 29 but we stopped them at our own 14 where Janikowski kicked his 5th FG of the half. Raiders 15 - Cards 3.
Cards returned the KO to their own 29. Five plays later, Palmer was sacked (Mack again) to end the half.
First Half Score: Raiders 15 - Cards 3.
Raiders received. They moved to the Cardinal 14 in fifteen plays only to have Cariel Brooks intercept a Carr pass in the flat and return it 81-yards for a Cardinal TD.. Raiders 15 - Cards 10.
TB on the KO. Ponder in for Carr. They moved to theiCardinal 43 where the drive stalled. TB on the punt. Stanton in. He took the Cards on a 12-play drive with the final play carrying over to the 4Q.
Third Quarter Score: Raiders 15 - Cards 10.
Final play of the Cardinal drive was an 8-yard TD completion in the right-deep parrt of the end zone to Dan Johnson. 2 pt. conversion failed. Cards took the lead. Cards 16 - Raiders 15.
Oakland returned the KO to their own 22. Two consecutive sacks (by Ta'amu and then K Martin) helped end teir drive at the Oakland 19. Cards took over on their own 41. Sims in at QB. He engineered a 10-play TD drive with Kerwinn Williams turning a short completion into the slot into a 10-yard touchdown. Chiefs 19 - Cards 23 - Raiders 15.
- 5:44 left. KO returned to the Oakland 17. McGloin in. He led the Raiders on an 11 play TD drive capped by a 4-yard completion to Durham. 2-pointer was good. All tied up. Raiders 23 - Cards 23.
- 2:18 left. Penalty (KIrk) on the KO boxed the Cards in at their 9. Thomas in for Sims. Thomas was under pressure. A sack by Harris was nullified by a face-mask penalty, but Edwards sacked Thomas on the very next play. He then hit Momah for +16 (second, third and 4th effort) yards on a critical 2nd & 16 and, three plays later hit the Cardinal TE again, this time for 38 (tackle breaking) yards. On the 9th play of the drive, Grice pounded it in from 11 inside yards for thr game-winner. Cards 30 - Raiders 23.
0:32 left. Cards went into prevent shell and the game was over 4 plays later.
Final Score: Cards 30 - Raiders 23
Most team stats are meaningless in preseason, but as the season wears on, more and more of them are worth noting:
Palmer was just 8 for 22, for 103 yards, with 2 picks. Stanton was 8 for 9 and a TD. Sims was 3 for 4 and a TD. Thomas was 3 for 5.
Cards gained 73 net yards rushing (3.0 YPC) but the defense held Oakland rushers to just 37 net yards (1.8 YPC).
Palmer threw two picks.
Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: . (Runs: 24/Pass: 40).
Top three RB's: Ellington (9 for 19), Grice (3 for 17 and TD) and K Williams (4 for 16).
Two of Top 3 pass catchers were not WR's. Golden caught 5 for 36 yards. Dan Johnson caught 4 for 40. Momah grabbed 3 for 61.
Cards lost 2 giveaways (both Palmer interceptions). Raiders surrendered the one Cariel Brooks 6-pick.
Card QB's were sacked four times(even though NFL.com only credits individual Raiders with 2 sacks total.
Calais Campbell led the team with 6 sacks followed by safeties Jones-Quartay (5) and Jefferson (5).
Raiders had a 56% 3rd down efficiency. (Cards had 41%).
Red Zone Efficiency: Cards 3 for 3 (100%). Oakland 1 for 5 (20%)
Penalties: Cards had just 5 (compared to Oakland's 9)
Time of Possession: Cards 29:17 - Oakland .30:43
Card defense gave up an average of 1.8 per rushing play (Card rushers averaged 3.0)
Stanton looked crisp. Sims has a shorter windup/quicker release than Thomas. Seems to process info/make good decisions quicker. For Thomas to beat out Sims for a #3 spot, his upside (physical athleticism, arm etc.) will have to be sigificantly better (& I'm not so sure it is).
Momah is Player of Game - his two 4Q catches and runs should top NFL Nets "Best Plays of the Week" list. Blocks too.
David Johnson looked good in the receiving game/so-so as a runner.
Cariel Brooks' makes plays. Pick 6 may earn him a roster spot as #4 CB. Although Roberts had his moments, not all of them were good. Has all the earmarks of a promising PS member.
Loved Kareem Martin's sack - looked like he flew thru the A-gap to nail the QB. I think it was X Williams who occupied 2 Raider blockers to enable Martin to get free on that play.
Jones-Quartey - Probably a heavy-hitting PS'er due to talent logjam at safety.
Okafor made a few defensive plays including successfulpursuit of a speedyOakland RB who escaped outside contain.
Defense hung tough 5 times and held Oakland to a FG a each time.
The Dark Side
I know it's only one preseason game with various other factors, but in terms of pure talent, Palmer looked like the 4th best Cardinal QB out there.
Ellington did not look consistently reliable. And whatever happened to Chris Johnson?
Humphreys looked like a PS player. Leaving him in there raises a safety concern.
Will our center play be good enough?
Our backup DB's are vulnerable to matchup problems on shallow crossing routes by RB's and TE's.
We were unable to control Khalil Mack
Perfect example of why pure numbers don't tell the whole story (Our starting offense was badly outplayed in the 1H. Our backups bailed out them out). There is a point in the course of a season where so-called "red flags" can become chronic unless they're addressed with a sense of urgency. I think we're fast approaching this - especially with regards to pass pro and also surrendering too many points in the final 2:00 of either half. I'm not s sure we can afford to take preseason Game #4 as lightly as we'd typically do.