The Arizona Cardinals were extremely lucky to escape a poorly executed game Sunday at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Cardinals started off with an exciting kickoff return for a touchdown. From there, the game went on a roller coaster ride.
Derek Anderson was not at the top of his game, nor were his receivers. He completed just under half of his 26 attempts (12), gaining 122 yards. Though Anderson connected on two touchdown passes to Steve Breaston and Larry Fitzgerald, he did throw an interception.
Breaston was the star of the Cardinals' air attack, collecting four passes for 41 yards. Fitzgerald, who once again had a sub-par game by his standards, caught two passes for just 26 yards. Anderson did not look sharp with his accuracy, often being forced to throw into coverage given the unreliable offensive line.
Beanie Wells led the running game for Arizona, rushing the ball 14 times for 75 yards. Tim Hightower ran 11 times for 40 yards. There were not too many breakout runs from the Cardinals, who looked to the air for big gains.
Penalties and fumbles were a big determining factor for the Cardinals. Arizona lost two fumbles on punt returns, while getting penalized seven times for 104 yards.
Bruce Gradkowski, whom Tom Cable switched to for this game in place of Jason Campbell, led the passing attack, hooking up 17 times with his receivers. Gradkowski gained 255 yards through the air with a touchdown pass and an interception.
Louis Murphy was Gradkowski's main target, grabbing five passes for 119 yards. Zach Miller was on the receiving end of Gradkowski's one touchdown throw, catching four passes for 64 yards.
The Raiders were looking to get to the Cardinals by favoring the running game over the passing game. Darren McFadden attempted 25 rushes and collected 105 yards and a touchdown.
The Cardinals were clinging on to a 24-23 lead with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Oakland began its final drive at its 20-yard line with 3:33 left. Gradkowski's pass intended for Darrius Heyward-Bey was called for pass interference on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, advancing the ball 39 yards. Oakland was now at the Arizona 14-yard line with four seconds to go with the thought of making the last-second, game-winning field goal.
But that thought would soon turn into a loss. It turned out Sebastian Janikowski's 32-yard field goal attempt was wide left, resulting in a 24-23 Arizona win.
Arizona now stands at 2-1, while Oakland drops to 1-2.
There were many mixed thoughts and emotions in the University of Phoenix Stadium, but a win is a win.
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