OAKLAND – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio wanted his starters to experience playing out of a halftime versus Arizona in their third exhibition game, often considered a dress rehearsal for the regular season.
The defense didn’t need the extra snaps after a dominant stretch where Nate Allen had two interceptions and the front seven wreaked havoc in the Cardinals backfield. Khalil Mack, Denico Autry and the rest of the defensive line made life difficult on the Cardinals early in a 30-23 loss to Arizona on Sunday evening at O.co Coliseum.
The defense had three sacks, two interceptions and allowed just 2.4 yards per carry in the first half, showing real pass-rush ability even without injured end Justin Tuck.
Mack was truly special, dominating both Arizona tackles with a rare combination of power and speed the Raiders hope paces a stingy defense during the regular season. If they play like they did Sunday night, that reputation will be well earned.
The offense must do better, and that starts with the quarterback. Carr was inaccurate and inconsistent in nine series. He had some good moments driving downfield and had some decent yardage, but completed 18-of-34 passes for 213 yards and an awful interception on a pass he didn’t throw away well enough.
[BAIR: Raiders OL Watson ruptures Achilles' tendon]
The running game never got going in the first half, with just one yard on 12 attempts.
This was the preseason’s longest look at the first unit, which will make cameos in Thursday’s exhibition finale at Seattle. The defense showed a dynamic quality up front that could aid a young cornerback trio.
The offense needs to find consistency, especially in the red zone. They have rarely scored inside the 20 in three preseason games. Receiver Amari Cooper had a few nice plays. So did Marcel Reece and Brice Butler.
Autry and rookie defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. made an impact up front, and Malcolm Smith was a tackling machine as usual.
McGloin ties it up late: Matt McGloin is well known for preseason heroics, and Sunday's effort was no different. The third-string quarterback didn't see much time on Sunday night, but wowed on his first series of the night. Down 23-15 with roughly 5 minutes left, McGloin took the third unit 83 yards on a 12-play drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Kris Durham. McGloin then connected with Brice Butler for a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 23-23. The lead didn't last long, as the Cardinals responded with a touchdown on the third-string defense.
Sea Bass gets a workout: Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowksi saw tons of action in the first half thanks to his team’s inability to find the end zone. Janikowski converted all five of his field goal attempts, with a long of 49 yards off the infield dirt.
Cooper shows flash: Receiver Amari Cooper didn’t catch every pass throw his way. A few were off target and one got lost in the sun, but Cooper showed great potential with four catches for 46 yards. His best effort came on a 39-yard reception with Pro Bowler Patrick Peterson in coverage. He got inside position, caught the ball and broke inside then out on a long gain.
Stay in Oakland?? The Raiders hold a fan trivia contest between the first and second quarter of each home game. This one took a little turn. Instead of answering Raiders trivia, the contestants wrote “Stay in Oakland” on their dry-erase boards instead. Fans are hoping the Silver and Black remain in the Bay Area as opposed to bolting for Los Angeles or another green pasture.
The stadium brass didn’t like the protest, and wouldn’t show the fans on the video board after the first of three questions.
Injury update: Injuries hadn’t hit the Raiders hard during this preseason, but right tackle Menelik Watson went down with a ruptured Achilles' tendon and is out for the year.
Watson was tended to face down on the trainer’s table and was emotional when physicians examined his lower left leg. He was helped off the field and into the locker room.
Receiver Rod Streater got his bell rung during a scary first-half moment, but walked off the field under his own power and returned for the next series.
Sitting it out: The Raiders injury list was short heading into Sunday night’s game. Defensive end Justin Tuck, fullback Jamize Olawale, receiver Andre Holmes and tight end Clive Walford did not suit up against the Cardinals.
What's next: The Raiders have some tough decisions ahead this week. They have to cut the roster to 75 players by Tuesday afternoon and 53 by Saturday. The preseason finale comes on a short week, with an exhibition at Seattle on Thursday night.