COVERING ALL THINGS SILVER AND BLACK

Raiders Choke in the Desert, 24-23

By Joe Kukura
|  Monday, Sep 27, 2010  |  Updated 6:32 AM PDT
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Raiders Training Camp 2010

Getty Images

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 26: Runningback Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders rushes the football past Paris Lenon #51 of the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Darren McFadden;Paris Lenon

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The Oakland Raiders were on the verge of having a winning regular season record for the first time since this date in 2004. And they had the Arizona Cardinals insisting on handing them the game.

But the team still couldn't pull it off, choking on three -- count 'em -- three missed Sebastian Janikowski field goals.  Raiders lose 24-23 in Arizona.

This one started as badly as possible for the Raiders. They gave up a 102-yard return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff, with LaRod Stephens-Howling doing the honors for the Cardinals.

Bruce Gradkowski would right the Raiders' ship on their second drive, tying the game with a 22-yard strike to Zach Miller.

Field goals were traded back and forth for the rest of the first quarter, the highlight of the bunch being Janikowski's 54-yarder that put the Raiders up 13-10.

The lead didn't last. The Cardinals ate up the first 5 minutes of the second quarter with a 51-yard touchdown drive capped off with a two-yard scoring pass to Steve Breaston.

But Derek Anderson being Derek Anderson, the Cardinals' QB would attempt a crazy-stupid shovel pass that bounced to Raiders linebacker Quentin Groves for an easy interception.

Bruce Gradkowski ran a clinic on performing the three-minute drill. He took the Raiders on a well-managed, no nonsense drive that ended in a Darren McFadden touchdown run and left the Cardinals only ten seconds to work with before halftime. They would not score.

But they would score in the closing 1:10 of the third quarter. After Janikowski missed a 41-yard field goal attempt, the Cardinals grabbed the opportunity and took the lead on the ensuing possession with an eight-yard touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald.

The tide turned late when the Cardinals fumbled a punt in the fourth quarter at their own 16 yard line with a 24-20 lead. A successful Janikowski field goal attempt rendered it 24-23 Cardinals.

Chances kept coming, but Janikowski missed two potential game winning field goal attempts from 58 and 32 yards in the final five minutes of the game.

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who can't believe he missed the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo for this.

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