The long wait for Raiders football finally came to an end when the team took the field in Arizona to take the Cardinals for their preseason debut.
Derek Carr and the offense took the field to start the game and got a first down on the first play of the game, with Carr finding wide receiver Michael Crabtree for a 16-yard gain. But their rhythm would slow after that, as the third-year quarterback looked to connect with Amari Cooper on 3rd and 11 but the second-year receiver couldn't get his second foot down and the Raiders were forced to punt.
A couple of the Raiders new defenders made their presence felt the first time they saw the field. Middle linebacker Ben Heeney applied some nice pressure on quarterback Carson Palmer and cornerback Sean Smith almost came away with the pick but had it drop harmlessly through his hands.
Palmer was able to find the soft spot in the Raiders zone later on the drive, connecting with Michael Floyd for a gain of 30. The first-team defense also struggled to tackle running back David Johnson, who ran for 31 yards on three runs. The good news is the Raiders defense held, forcing a field goal for the Cardinals who took the early 3-0 lead.
The Raiders' starting offense took a lot of deep shots down the sideline, which could just be the coaches trying to see where they stand heading into games. Carr struggled to connect with Cooper for much of the game, but did find Crabtree for a beautiful throw and catch of 22 yards. Carr played just two series and finished 3-for-7 and 44 yards. His second and final drive culminated in a 53-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski that tied the game at 3-3 in the first quarter.
The Raiders first-team offenses and defenses made it out of the game healthy except for a devastating loss of second-year defensive lineman Mario Edwards, Jr. who went down with an apparent leg injury. Edwards, Jr. had to be helped off the field by a trainer and fellow defensive lineman Khalil Mack. He was then carted off the field and wouldn't return to the game.
Many of the Raiders players hoping to make the roster need to make an impact on special teams to help make their case. Linebacker Korey Toomer did a good job of that Friday, forcing a fumble (recovered by wide receiver Johnny Holton) and then made another big special teams tackles.
Backup quarterback Matt McGloin came in and got the second-team offense going after the first fumble. The quarterback found second-year tight end Clive Walford wide open for a 19-yard touchdown pass.
He'd get the ball back quickly after veteran safety Nate Allen picked off quarterback Drew Stanton for the Raiders second turnover of the game. McGloin found Andre Holmes on a beautiful throw and catch into the end zone where Holmes got both feet in to take the 17-3 lead. McGloin finished the game 5-for-11 for 41 yards and two touchdown.
The Raiders defense would give up another touchdown to hold on to a 17-10 lead heading into the half.
It was rookie quarterback Connor Cook who got the Raiders back on the scoreboard after coming in late in the third quarter. He found backup running back DeAndre Washington out of the backfield for a 32-yard catch and run. Running back George Atkinson III would finish the drive by taking it around the right end for 54 yards into the end zone to build the lead up to 24-10.
Atkinson III stole the show in the second half, breaking off another nice run for a 35-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. In all, he finished with five carries for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
The Raiders will return home for two more open practices before breaking training camp and heading back to Alameda. They'll then gear up to head to Green Bay to take on the Packers for their second preseason game on Thursday night.