OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Kevin Kolb found new favorite target Larry Fitzgerald twice in his Arizona debut but was unable to get his offense on the scoreboard in two drives before the Cardinals rallied to beat the Oakland Raiders 24-18 in their exhibition opener Thursday night.
Arizona’s other three quarterbacks all threw touchdown passes, including a 28-yarder from Max Hall to Isaiah Williams with 39 seconds left for the win.
Raiders third-stringer Trent Edwards threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to rookie David Ausberry, and Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals, including a go-ahead 57-yarder with 2:32 to play, but the Raiders lost in Hue Jackson’s head coaching debut.
After a year of poor quarterback play following Kurt Warner’s retirement, Arizona made the big move to acquire Kolb from Philadelphia after the lockout ended last month. The Cardinals sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick to the Eagles and gave Kolb a five-year, $63 million contract, with $21 million guaranteed.
Kolb was unable to practice right away because he signed the new contract, giving him only five practices before his exhibition debut. He completed four of seven passes for 68 yards and also scrambled for 19 yards.
“He operated the offense and he knew what he was doing,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “He made some good reads and made some good throws. For it to be this early in the process with him, I am very excited about that.”
Kolb targeted Fitzgerald on four of his seven throws. He struggled on the first drive against Oakland’s first-team defense, with his only completion going for no gain to Early Doucet.
But when the Raiders brought mostly reserves for the second drive, Kolb got the Cardinals moving. He completed an 8-yard pass to newly acquired tight end Todd Heap on the first play. Kolb then went deep to Fitzgerald, who outmaneuvered rookie Demarcus Van Dyke for a 43-yard catch.
“That’s his specialty right? The guy had him beat, I gave him a shot at it anyway, and he squeezed it and made a great play,” Kolb said. “That’s why I am glad he is in red and white.”
Two plays later, Fitzgerald beat second-year pro Walter McFadden for a 17-yard gain on a stop route. The Cardinals them moved the ball down to the 1 but Beanie Wells was stopped for no gain on consecutive runs but Oakland’s defensive line, costing Arizona a chance at points.
The Cardinals got on the board in the final minute of the half on an 18-yard touchdown pass from John Skelton to Stephen Williams that gave them a 7-6 lead. Skelton also drove Arizona to a field goal on the opening drive of the second half.
Third-stringer Richard Bartel threw an 8-yard score to Rob Housler in the third quarter for the Cardinals.
The Raiders had to settle for field goals on their two first-half scoring drives as the offense stalled as it got near the Arizona end zone. Jason Campbell opened the Jackson era with the deep ball owner Al Davis loves as the Raiders drew a 35-yard penalty when Rashad Johnson interfered with Marcel Reece down the sideline.
The Raiders moved to the 21 but Campbell’s third-down pass was batted down at the line by Darnell Dockett, leading to a 39-yard field goal by Janikowski.
Campbell moved the Raiders from their 1 to field goal range on his second drive with help from a 26-yard pass on third-and-long to training camp rookie sensation Denarius Moore. Khalif Barnes was then called for his third false start penalty of the game as Janikowski lined up for a 52-yard field goal attempt, forcing a punt.
Kyle Boller then completed all six passes on his first drive, setting up a 25-yard field goal by Janikowski. Edwards’ 42-yard pass to Derek Hagan in the third quarter set up a third field goal by Janikowski to cut Arizona’s lead to 10-9.
On the opening drive of the second half, Raiders backup safety Hiram Eugene had to be carted off the field with an apparent left leg injury.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)