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Raiders once again beat Cardinals, winning exhibition opener 27-23

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -The way last season went for the Oakland Raiders, they'll take any sort of a win - even an exhibition one over the Arizona Cardinals.

Andrew Walter threw a touchdown pass to Mike Williams and Hiram Eugene scored on a 36-yard interception return to lead Oakland to a 27-23 victory Saturday night in coach Lane Kiffin's first game with the Raiders.

"It's one preseason game," said Walter, who went 8-for-11 for 50 yards. "It's nothing to hang your hat on. We need to get back to work tomorrow."

The Raiders had little to feel positive about last season when they lost the final nine games and set a franchise record for losses in a 2-14 campaign that led to coach Art Shell's firing.

Tempering the enthusiasm after this win was the fact that one of those victories was a 22-9 decision Oct. 22 at home against Arizona. Oakland also won its first four exhibition games last year before falling apart once the season began.

"You don't want to get too excited," safety Stuart Schweigert said. "Last year we were 4-1 in the preseason. You can see that doesn't tell you anything about where your team is at."

Kurt Warner threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson on his only drive of the game and Neil Rackers kicked a 59-yard field goal on the final play of the first half for Arizona.

New coach Ken Whisenhunt played quarterback Matt Leinart only one quarter and running back Edgerrin James just two series in the game. Leinart finished 5-for-11 for 50 yards and James carried twice for 3 yards.

"We stumbled a bit but I thought we did all right," Leinart said. "We showed some fight to get back up. but we've got to learn to close. We've just got to keep getting better. It's the preseason and we're learning a new offense."

Third-string quarterback Shane Boyd got most of the playing time and threw the interception that Eugene returned for a score to make it 14-7 early in the second quarter. Boyd scored on an 8-yard draw on Arizona's opening drive of the second half.

Rackers added two more field goals to give Arizona a 23-21 lead, but Sebastian Janikowski's 27-yard field goal, set up by a 50-yard pass from Daunte Culpepper to rookie Johnnie Lee Higgins, put Oakland back ahead with for good 8:10 remaining.

The Raiders were without No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell, who is in a contract dispute with the team. That left the quarterbacking duties to Josh McCown, Walter and Culpepper.

After failing to convert a first down on his first two drives, McCown put together an 80-yard touchdown drive. The drive was fueled by three Arizona penalties for 39 yards, negating a false start, lost fumble and third-down incompletion.

Darnell Dockett was called for a personal foul for shoving Cooper Carlisle after a false start, Bertrand Berry was offsides on a play McCown fumbled away a shotgun snap, and Antrel Rolle was called for pass interference in the end zone on a third-and-13 pass to Doug Gabriel. Dominic Rhodes ran it in from the 1 on the next play.

The best offensive plays of the drive were a 14-yard pass to Williams on third-and-7 and a 13-yard run by Rhodes. McCown finished 5-for-9 for 42 yards.

Walter engineered another scoring drive to end the half, capped by a 3-yard pass to Williams, who outjumped Darrell Hunter for the ball. Williams, a former top-10 pick who struggled in two seasons with Detroit, is hoping to revive his career in Oakland under Kiffin, his assistant coach in college at Southern California.

"It was good to see Mike make a couple plays," Kiffin said. "The touchdown catch was the Mike that some of us remember, but he still has a long ways to go."

Culpepper entered to a standing ovation with 9:38 left in the third quarter and promptly fumbled the snap from Jeremy Newberry. Rookie Alan Branch recovered to set up a field goal by Rackers. Culpepper fumbled again on the next drive but the Raiders retained possession.

Culpepper showed good mobility later on rollouts after struggling with knee injuries the past two years.

"I felt really good to be able to roll out in the pocket and make accurate throws," he said. "I wanted to see if I could do it against a defense in a live game. It's a starting point and something to build on."

Whisenhunt was pleased with how the team ran the ball, averaging 4.3 yards per carry, and his defense at the start of the game. But he still sees lots of work to be done.

"The biggest thing I'm disappointed in were the mistakes at the end of the game," he said. "I had high expectations that we wouldn't make those kind of errors. It was a good learning tool for us."

Notes: Oakland committed eight penalties for 58 yards. "We have to play a lot smarter than that," Kiffin said. ... Adimchinobe Echemandu led the Raiders with 75 yards rushing on 17 carries.

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