GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals had scored a go-ahead touchdown. They had the Oakland Raiders right where they wanted them after three straight incompletions forced the Raiders to punt the ball with 2:50 remaining in Sunday’s game.
The Cardinals took possession with Oakland having only one timeout. But two critical penalties cost them dearly, and gave the Raiders just enough time to mount a drive for the winning field goal in a 23-21 win.
An unnecessary roughness penalty against Cardinals tight end Jermaine Gresham on second down not only cost Arizona 15 yards, it stopped the game clock. On the very next play, running back David Johnson ran 57 yards for what was sure to be the clinching score, only to have the play called back on a holding call against tight end Ricky Seals-Jones.
Two plays later, the Cardinals punted. The Raiders and Carr, given the gift of one more opportunity with 1:53 to play, drove 63 yards and won as the clock expired on Daniel Carlson’s 35-yard field goal.
Gresham vehemently protested the call against him, to no avail.
“It was just a dumb play by me,” Gresham, a nine-year veteran, said after the game. “I turned around and saw my guy on the ground. We’re not coached to that. We’re not taught that. They didn’t bring me in here to do that, and it was stupid. I cost us the game.”
Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks said Gresham told him a Raiders player was “doing something at the bottom of the pile.”
“Regardless of the situation, we can’t be enticed like that,” Wilks said.
Wilks also labeled unacceptable the long completion from Carr to rookie Marcell Ateman with cornerback Bene Benwikere in coverage 32 yards down the sideline to set up Carlson’s winner.
The Cardinals led 14-7 in the first half, but trailed 20-14 on the second of two Carlson field goals in the third quarter. Arizona’s defense couldn’t get off the field, as the Raiders chewed up 7 minutes, 39 seconds of clock time leading up to Carlson’s 21-yard kick.
The Cardinals took advantage of the Raiders’ decision not to go for a first down on a fourth-and-1 at the Arizona 38 with 7:48. Johnson, who later had a key drop, set up the go-ahead touchdown with a 53-yard run.
In a game the two-win Cardinals had to figure was winnable against the previously one-win Raiders, Arizona had victory in its grasp despite two turnovers. But the Cardinals self-destructed in the final minutes.
Afterward, there were questions about who was most at fault for such a difficult loss. Wilks, hired in January and 2-8 in a tumultuous first season in Arizona, was asked how comfortable he is with his job status.
“I’m just worried about trying to win a football game,” he said. “I have so many other things to worry about right now, I’m not concerned with that right now.”
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