Cardinals let late lead slip away as Raiders snap skid
GLENDALE — The Arizona Cardinals had scored a go-ahead touchdown. They had the Oakland Raiders right where they wanted them after three straight incompletions forced the Raiders to punt the ball with 2:50 remaining in Sunday’s game.
The Cardinals took possession with Oakland having only one timeout. But two critical penalties cost them dearly, and gave the Raiders just enough time to mount a drive for the winning field goal in a 23-21 win.
Daniel Carlson kicked a 35-yard field goal as the game ended to give Oakland the victory in a matchup of teams scraping the bottom of the NFL standings. The Raiders (2-8), who had lost five straight, matched the record of the Cardinals.
An unnecessary roughness penalty against Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham on second down on the team’s final possession not only cost Arizona 15 yards, it stopped the game clock. On the very next play, running back David Johnson ran 57 yards for what was sure to be the clinching score, only to have the play called back on a holding call against tight end Ricky Seals-Jones.
Two plays later, the Cardinals punted. The Raiders and Carr, given the gift of one more opportunity with 1:53 to play, drove 63 yards and won as the clock expired on Daniel Carlson’s 35-yard field goal.
Gresham vehemently protested the call against him, to no avail.
“It was just a dumb play by me,” Gresham, a nine-year veteran, said after the game. “I turned around and saw my guy on the ground. We’re not coached to that. We’re not taught that. They didn’t bring me in here to do that, and it was stupid. I cost us the game.”
Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks said Gresham told him a Raiders player was “doing something at the bottom of the pile.”
“Regardless of the situation, we can’t be enticed like that,” Wilks said.
Wilks also labeled unacceptable the long completion from Carr to rookie Marcell Ateman with cor-nerback Bene Benwikere in coverage 32 yards down the sideline to set up Carlson’s winner.
“It’s fun to win again,” said the Raiders’ Jon Gruden, whose return to coaching this season after a dec-ade away has been difficult, to say the least. “With the injuries and the lack of practice, I really credit our guys for finishing the football game and finding a way to win.”
Carlson also had field goals of 49 and 21 yards in the second half before the game-winner.
“I was just ready,” Carlson said. “I stayed ready those last two drives because I didn’t know when it was going to happen. I had a feeling it was going to happen eventually. ... It’s awesome.”
Arizona rookie Josh Rosen threw for three touchdowns, two to Larry Fitzgerald, but was intercepted twice. Both picks led to first-half touchdowns for Oakland. Johnson rushed for a season-best 137 yards, including a 53-yarder that set up Rosen’s 5-yard TD pass to Fitzgerald that gave the Cardinals a 21-20 lead with 5:02 to play.
“This one is going to definitely sting,” Johnson said. “You know, the Raiders, everyone knows they’re trading guys away, they’re doing everything to try to rebuild. This one is a tough one.”
Or, as Rosen put it, “No disrespect to the Raiders but we feel we are the better football team. That’s what makes this so frustrating.”
The day started badly for the Cardinals and ended that way.
On Arizona’s second play, Gareon Conley made a diving interception and returned it 28 yards to the Cardinals 33-yard line. Three plays later, Carr threw to wide-open Jared Cook for the touchdown.
Arizona took the subsequent kickoff and tied it with a nine-play, 64-yard drive. Rosen threw 18 yards to Fitzgerald for the touchdown.
The Cardinals took the lead when Rosen, changing the play at the line of scrimmage, threw short to Kirk. Kirk, on his 22nd birthday, shook loose from a would-be tackler and raced to the end zone, a 59-yard play to make it 14-7 late in the first quarter.
Karl Joseph intercepted a deflected pass at the 50 and Oakland drove from there for the tying score. Carr threw 5 yards to Brandon LaFell for the touchdown .
Carlson’s 49-yard field goal on Oakland’s first possession of the second half gave the Raiders the lead. Later in the quarter, the Raiders used 7:39 in a drive that stalled at the 1-yard line and Carlson’s 21-yard field goal made it 20-14.
Both of Arizona’s wins came against San Francisco. The 49ers, Cardinals and Raiders are now tied for the worst record in the NFL.
In a game the two-win Cardinals had to figure was winnable against the previously one-win Raiders, Arizona had victory in its grasp despite two turnovers. But the Cardinals self-destructed in the final minutes.
Afterward, there were questions about who was most at fault for such a difficult loss. Wilks, hired in January and 2-8 in a tumultuous first season in Arizona, was asked how comfortable he is with his job status.
“I’m just worried about trying to win a football game,” he said. “I have so many other things to worry about right now, I’m not concerned with that right now.”
Raiders: LaFell left in the second half with an Achilles tendon injury. Cornerback Leon Hall hurt his back in the first half.
Cardinals: Linebacker Deone Bucannon left with a chest injury in the second half.
Raiders: at Baltimore next Sunday.
Cardinals: at the Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday.