Raiders' win yields positive signs

It was only the first preseason game, and there's no shortage of areas for the Raiders to improve upon. But there were also plenty of encouraging signs that came out of the Raiders' 27-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals, and for a team that went 2-14 last season, that's a good reason for a little bit of optimism.

For one, the offensive line did a great job in protecting the quarterback (yes, you read that right). In fact, the Cardinals didn't get a single sack on Josh McCown nor Andrew Walter in the entire first half and gave them more than enough time to throw, something that was severely lacking last year.

Also, newly-acquired free agent running back Dominic Rhodes showed some explosiveness against the Cardinals on Saturday, another thing that really wasn't there last year. In addition to scoring a touchdown, he flashed a number of impressive moves, including a spin move to elude linebacker Karlos Dansby to turn a loss into a 4-yard gain.

Last, but certainly not least, the Raiders put some points on the board offensively, as Oakland exploded for a 21-point second quarter to spark some life into the game after a scoreless first quarter.

The first score was the result of an 80-yard drive that was helped along by a pair of costly Arizona penalties, including a pass-interference flag on cornerback Antrel Rolle in the end zone on what appeared to be an uncatchable pass to Doug Gabriel.

On the next play, Rhodes plunged into the end zone from a yard out to give Oakland an early 7-0 lead.

However, that lead wouldn't last long, as quarterback Kurt Warner quickly found a whipping boy in cornerback Chris Johnson. The fourth-year man was beaten for two big passing plays on the drive that followed Oakland's score, including a 59-yard touchdown connection from Warner to Bryant Johnson that saw the cornerback fall down on the slant pattern.

After the Raiders went three-and-out, they got a big play from cornerback-turned-safety Hiram Eugene, who spent last season on the practice squad. On a third-down play, Eugene intercepted a Shane Boyd and returned it 36 yards for a score, putting the Raiders ahead, 14-7.

Towards the end of the first half, Walter led Oakland on a 67-yard drive that ended with receiver Mike Williams easily winning a jump ball with Arizona cornerback Darrell Hunter in the corner of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown.

Arizona chipped away at Oakland's lead in the second half and actually took the lead late in the third quarter, when Neil Rackers' 25-yard field goal gave the Cardinals a 23-21 advantage with 3:43 left in the quarter.

However, the Raiders came right back early in the fourth quarter, driving 69 yards before Sebastian Janikowski's 27-yard field goal gave Oakland a one-point lead it would not relinquish.


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