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Routin' road Raiders

Raiders clobber Cardinals thanks to five interceptions

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Posted: Saturday September 04, 1999 02:08 AM

  Tim Brown caught three passes for 37 yards Friday. AP

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- The Oakland Raiders got a big kick out of their final exhibition game. Five big kicks, to be exact.

Michael Husted was 5-for-5 on field goals for the first time in his career and rookie linebacker Eric Barton had a third quarter he will never forget Friday night as the Raiders beat the Arizona Cardinals 43-7.

Husted showed every sign he will give the Raiders the consistent kicker they have lacked.

"No one talked about him as a high-profile free agent acquisition in the offseason, but we felt that Mike Husted was going to really have a huge impact on our team," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. "Those weren't chip shots he made tonight. Some of those were in the air for a long time. He's in a real good groove right now."

Husted, who left Tampa Bay to sign with Oakland, had field goals of 53, 52, 43, 43 and 21 yards. Since missing his first two in the preseason, he's 7-for-7.

"I like change and I think change is good," Husted said. "This is the first team that we called and it was the only team I wanted to go to. I knew the situation here. I knew they wanted someone to come in and not only do well on field goals but give them good kickoffs. I feel like I was a good fit here."

Barton, a fifth-round draft pick out of Maryland, intercepted two of rookie Chris Greisen's passes and returned Mario Bates' fumble 28 yards for a touchdown as the Raiders' reserves blew the game open with a 17-0 third quarter.

"Any time you make plays like that it builds your confidence," Barton said. "It shows that I belong in this league and I can compete here."

Arizona, playing without Jake Plummer, was intercepted five times, three on passes by Greisen in the second half. Meanwhile, the Raiders never were forced to punt.

Oakland, which lost to San Francisco 16-8 on Monday night, also got strong ground games from Rashaan Salaam and Tyrone Wheatley, backing up starter Napoleon Kaufman. Wheatley scored on runs of 26 and 5 yards.

"We've got some tough choices to make," Gruden said.

The Cardinals, already decimated by injuries and contract holdouts, lost wide receiver Frank Sanders with a sprained left ankle on their second offensive play. Sanders, the NFC's leading receiver last year with 89 catches, was the team's lone experienced wideout because Rob Moore is one of three Cardinals still off the team in contract hassles.

Coach Vince Tobin characterized the injury as a moderate sprain and said he didn't know if it would keep Sanders out of the season opener.

Oakland, which opens its regular season with games at Green Bay and Minnesota, was 3-1 in the preseason. Arizona was 1-3 and was outscored 122-21 in one-sided losses to AFC West teams Denver, Seattle and Oakland.

"I wouldn't use the word embarrassed," Cardinals cornerback Aeneas Williams said, "but I know we can play a lot better."

Tobin said the Cardinals didn't show any of the wrinkles in their offense in the preseason, and that was at least part of the reason for the poor showing. He expects things to get much better in the season opener Sept. 12 at Philadelphia, when Plummer should return.

"I think when we go to Philly, you will see a different football team than you've seen in the last couple of ball games," he said.

The Raiders led 16-7 at halftime. Both teams played their first units throughout the first half, although Oakland switched from starting quarterback Rich Gannon to backup Bobby Hoying early in the second quarter.

Dave Brown started at quarterback in place of the injured Plummer for the second game in a row and was 10-of-16 for 100 yards and was intercepted once.

After a slow start, Brown was 7-of-8 for 70 yards as Arizona drove 80 yards in 13 plays for just the second touchdown by the first unit in the preseason. On third-and-goal at the 8, Brown tossed a short pass to Michael Pittman, who cut inside from the 6-yard line for the score to cut the Raiders' lead to 13-7 with 2:42 left in the first half.

With the Raiders leading 3-0, Oakland's Darrien Gordon had the ball stripped by Pat Tillman on a punt return and Arizona's Coby Rhinehart recovered on the Raiders' 33. But three plays later, Eric Allen intercepted Brown's pass and returned it 40 yards to the Arizona 40.

From there, Oakland used 11 plays to score on Randy Jordan's 1-yard run to put the Raiders up 10-0 with 29 seconds left in the first quarter.

Plummer sat out his second consecutive game with a sprained right thumb.

Related information
SI's Oakland Raiders Scouting Report
SI's Arizona Cardinals Scouting Report
CNN/SI's Raiders-Cardinals Statistical Matchup
CNN/SI's Oakland Raiders Team Page
CNN/SI's Arizona Cardinals Team Page
Raiders-Cardinals Game Summary
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