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Encouraged To Begin With

Posted Aug 11, 2011

Cards beat Raiders, 24-18, as Kolb has productive start

Quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) scrambles to make a play during Thursday night's 24-18 preseason victory over the Raiders in Oakland.

OAKLAND, Calif. – Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t looking for perfection. He just wanted his players to make a few plays and his quarterback to look comfortable.

The Cardinals provided their coach a reasonable response.

In front of a sparse crowd at O.co Coliseum, the Cards not only beat the Raiders, 24-18, but watched the Kevin Kolb era begin relatively smooth after just a week of practice.

Kolb completed 4-of-7 passes for 68 yards (a 90.2 passer rating) and had a couple of scrambles for another 19 yards, and if running back Beanie Wells had been able to find his way into the end zone on four straight carries inside the Oakland 10-yard line, he would have generated a scoring drive.

“All of us have to work out some kinks,” Kolb said. “They’ve got to get used to my cadence in a live-game setting, getting out of the huddle. There are a lot of things that you can’t duplicate in practice.

“We are learning as we go. We would have liked to put that (second drive) in the end zone but I think, overall, it was successful.”

It felt like the first game after just two weeks of training camp following a lockout-lost offseason. There were a number of false starts – Oakland tackle Khalif Barnes got two in the first half alone – and the Cardinals (1-0) had their kinks in the first dry run of new defensive coordinator Ray Horton.

Safety Rashad Johnson, starting in place of the injured Adrian Wilson, was nailed for a 40-yard pass interference penalty on fullback Marcel Reece on the first Raider play of the game.

There were flashes of the blitzes Horton plans to use, and flashes of the holes the Cards still need time to work out.

“It was kind of what you expected,” Whisenhunt said. “I was happy to see us make some plays, especially with that first offense, as far as Kevin running the offense and Larry making some plays down the field. For a first game, especially with the limited amount of work of we had, that’s exciting.

“I am disappointed a little bit that we had mistakes. We didn’t get into position on defense to make some plays when we had a chance to do that … but I am not surprised. This is the first time these guys have ever been together with a new scheme.”

The Cards’ defense did manage to hold the Raiders three times after they had reached the Cards’ 21 or closer, the reason the Cards were eventually able to prevail.

”Coach (Horton) balanced it out, called things we had put in, things we were comfortable with,” linebacker Daryl Washington said. “I think it worked out pretty well for a first game.”

The offense was the focus, however. Larry Fitzgerald hauled in a 43-yard catch in great coverage with one hand on a Kolb pass. “That’s his specialty right?” Kolb said. “The guy had him beat, I gave him a shot at it anyways, and he squeezed it and made a great play. That’s why I am glad he is in red and white.”

Kolb-to-Fitzgerald wasn’t the only connection that worked. The Cards went down the field early and often, with six completions of at least 20 yards. John Skelton relieved Kolb and completed 6-of-10 passes for 94 yards, and then Rich Bartel completed 4-of-9 for 69 yards.

The Raiders (0-1) actually took the lead with 2:32 left with an impressive 57-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal, but the quarterback precession reached No. 4 with Max Hall, who matched his fellow signal-callers. Hall calmly drove the Cards 68 yards in five plays, with Isaiah Williams closing out the comeback with a 28-yard catch-and-run for a game-winning touchdown with 39 seconds left.

In the end, Kolb turned out to be the only QB without a touchdown pass and a rating of at least 108.1.

“They all kind of muddied the picture,” Whisenhunt said of the quarterback battle. “I was pleased with all four of them.”

Whisenhunt added that the game “wasn’t as bad as I expected.” Which was the idea coming in.

“There is no game plan, we didn’t watch any film, nothing like that,” Kolb said. “So it is more about us than it is about them at this point. I think we all feel pretty good right now and we just have to get back to work the next couple days.”

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