Arizona Cardinals defense plays well despite rough first half for offense

Aug 30, 2015, 7:04 PM | Updated: 7:06 pm
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) runs against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud P...

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) runs against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

(AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

In games like Sunday’s when the Arizona Cardinals offensive line has its struggles, the defense proved that it was up to the task of keeping the team in the game.

A Carson Palmer interception on the first possession of the game gave the Oakland Raiders great field position on the Cardinals 34-yard-line. The defense responded quickly, with Raiders running back Latavius Murray getting stuffed by Cardinals safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Deone Bucannon on a blitz.

That drive resulted in a field goal and the Raiders offense was out there quickly again after a three-and-out from the Cardinals offense. The defense threw that right back at the Raiders, with a three-and-out of their own after a good pass deflection from cornerback Jerraud Powers and a crisp tackle by Mathieu a yard short of the first down.

The third straight three-and-out for the Raiders offense came next. A great pass deflection on a fade by Mathieu and reliable pass coverage when Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had time to throw stopped the silver and black once again.

The one area the Cardinals could look to improve on is the pass rush and it eventually led to Raiders points. Carr continued to have time to throw and made a key third-down completion that was followed by a rare effective run for Murray.

Murray’s 12-yard rush put the Raiders in field goal range, but they were stopped there after some more good defensive plays. Powers made a good tackle on a quick pass to Raiders receiver Amari Cooper and Alex Okafor, the only Cardinals pass rusher having real success, pressured Carr into a bad throw to force another field goal.

More solid coverage from the secondary stopped the Raiders for their third field goal of the half. Even on a drive when the Raiders got some momentum going after catches from Cooper, the defense still stood tall and denied the Raiders a trip to the end zone. That drive included a great play again from Okafor.

As if the Cardinals offense was testing their defense enough, another interception from Palmer put the Raiders in great field position again. The theme would repeat though, with the coverage from the secondary again coming up big to hold the Raiders to yet another field goal.

For most football teams in the NFL, Sunday’s game would have been over by the third quarter. The Cardinals repeatedly put their defense in bad spots, but the resilience they showed not only kept the game competitive, it kept the Cardinals in the game with a chance to make a comeback. That’s something the Cardinals can rely on when the regular season starts in less than two weeks.

Life Changer Loans
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree (15) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tony Jefferson, bottom, while under pressure from cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) and linebacker Kevin Minter (51) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) passes against the Oakland Raiders during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Oakland Raiders wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins (85) can't make a one-handed catch as Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) defends during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) passes against the Arizona Cardinals during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Oakland Raiders wide receiver Rod Streater catches a pass in front of Arizona Cardinals free safety Tyrann Mathieu (32) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Oakland Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper (89) runs against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jerraud Powers (25) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) runs against Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) passes as Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell (93) and linebacker Alex Okafor, rear, apply pressure during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, center, is tackled by Oakland Raiders defensive back Nate Allen (20) and cornerback T.J. Carrie (38) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Oakland Raiders linebacker Malcolm Smith, right, grabs the jersey of Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) before tackling him during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) reacts after sacking Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Oakland Raiders defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. (97) sacks Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) reacts after catching a touchdown pass in front of Oakland Raiders inside linebacker Ben Heeney (51) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) evades Oakland Raiders linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong (57) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Arizona Cardinals defensive back Cariel Brooks, left, celebrates after scoring on an 81-yard interception return for a touchdown with defensive back Tony Jefferson (22) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015 in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) rests on the ground after being sacked by Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack during the first half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Oakland Raiders place kicker Sebastian Janikowski (11) celebrates with Marquette King after kicking a field goal during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians gestures during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Oakland Raiders, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015 in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, right, and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. watch during the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Arizona Cardinals in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton (5) passes as Oakland Raiders defensive end Benson Mayowa, left, applies pressure during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Arizona Cardinals running back Kerwynn Williams (33) celebrates with teammates after scoring on a 10-yard touchdown reception against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Arizona Cardinals quarterback Logan Thomas (6) is tackled Oakland Raiders defensive end Shelby Harris, bottom, and outside linebacker Neiron Ball (58) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. Ball was called for a face mask penalty on the play. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) Arizona Cardinals running back Marion Grice (23) evades tackles for an 11-yard touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. The Cardinals won 30-23. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Arizona Cardinals tight end Ifeanyi Momah (80) is hit by Oakland Raiders' Brandian Ross (29) and Taylor Mays, center, during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. The Cardinals won 30-23. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar) Oakland Raiders quarterback Christian Ponder (9) is tackled by Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (91), linebacker Shaquille Riddick (47), nose tackle Alameda Ta'amu (66) and linebacker Kareem Martin (96) during the second half of an NFL preseason football game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015. The Cardinals won 30-23. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

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