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More Lessons For Josh Rosen, Other Cardinals Rookies Against Raiders

Six first-year players on field at same time in loss to Oakland

WR Christian Kirk bolts to the end zone on his 59-yard touchdown reception
WR Christian Kirk bolts to the end zone on his 59-yard touchdown reception

Josh Rosen is constantly accumulating knowledge, and an old lesson from UCLA popped into the rookie quarterback's mind late in the first quarter of Sunday's 23-21 loss to the Raiders.

Oakland overloaded the right side and threatened a blitz, but Rosen didn't particularly care if the defenders were rushing or not. He knew the numbers on the left benefitted him, so he switched the play to a wide receiver screen.

Christian Kirk caught the throw, broke a tackle and raced 59 yards for the touchdown.

"Back in college I learned the 'MFer' rule," Rosen said. "If there are a lot of 'MFers' over there, go that (other) way."

It's these types of lessons that will continue to help Rosen develop as an NFL quarterback, but unsurprisingly, there were also times against Oakland when his play led to some profane thoughts on the other end of the spectrum.

Rosen threw three touchdown passes in the contest but finished just 9-of-20 for 136 yards with two picks. The first came on a lofted pass for Larry Fitzgerald, a 50-50 ball that was intercepted by cornerback Gareon Conley.

The other came on a throw intended for fellow rookie Trent Sherfield that was popped into the air and corralled by Raiders safety Karl Joseph. Rosen, Sherfield and Kirk were half of the six rookies who were on the field during that interception, joined by center Mason Cole, left tackle Korey Cunningham and running back Chase Edmonds.

There were offensive hiccups, especially in the middle two quarters, but they weren't glaringly the fault of the youngsters. Rosen said the first-year players will inevitably deal with ups and downs, but on this day "it was across the board (including veterans). And I'm not excluding myself. I made plenty. I dropped a snap. I haven't done that since high school."

Kirk has been the team's most impressive rookie this season and continued showing it with three catches for a team-high 77 yards, including the long catch-and-run score. He shook off a tackle and then had a clear path to the end zone.

"The blocks were amazing by the front line," Kirk said. "(Tight end) Ricky (Seals-Jones) came in at the end and sealed that last guy and all I had to do is just catch it and score."

Kirk added another impressive leaping catch late to set up the go-ahead touchdown. His lone blip was an early drop on a pass that would have resulted in a first down.

Cunningham filled in for D.J. Humphries at left tackle, getting his first extensive NFL experience after the team selected him in the seventh round of April's draft. Coach Steve Wilks wants to watch the tape more closely to evaluate his performance but was happy with the line overall.

"I know we only gave up one (sack) so that was encouraging," Wilks said. "I know he was hurt a couple times. I thought for the most part those guys did a decent job of protection."

Edmonds finished with five carries for 17 yards while Sherfield caught his first NFL pass. The duo combined to make a great play by downing a punt at the 2 in the fourth quarter.

In the end, the bad outweighed the good for the Cardinals, who are hoping to see experience turn into tangible progress.

"I just remember being frustrated with a lot of little things," Rosen said. "No disrespect to the Raiders, but we feel as though we were the better football team there. That's why this one was so frustrating."

Images of the Week 11 matchup at State Farm Stadium