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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
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.
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.