OAKLAND, Calif. - Kevin Kolb learned quite quickly how easy life can be with Larry Fitzgerald as a teammate.
Kolb found his new favourite target twice in his Arizona debut but was unable to get his offence on the scoreboard in two drives before the Cardinals rallied to beat the Oakland Raiders 24-18 in their exhibition opener Thursday night.
The highlight was a 43-yard pass on a play that appeared to be covered by Demarcus Van Dyke before Fitzgerald leaped and took the ball away for the big gain.
"That's his specialty right?" Kolb said. "The guy had him beat, I gave him a shot at it anyway, and he squeezed it and made a great play. That's why I am glad he is in red and white."
Arizona's other three quarterbacks all threw touchdown passes, including a 28-yarder from Max Hall to Isaiah Williams with 39 seconds left for the win.
Raiders third-stringer Trent Edwards threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to rookie David Ausberry, and Sebastian Janikowski kicked four field goals, including a go-ahead 57-yarder with 2:32 to play, but the Raiders lost in Hue Jackson's head coaching debut.
Oakland committed 10 penalties and settled for field goals on three drives inside the Arizona 25 as the team looked sloppy at times with only two weeks of practice after the lockout.
"There are 31 other teams with the same issues," Jackson said. "I'm not going to make an excuse. What we have to do is find a better way to address these issues. That's my job. I'll get those addressed."
After a year of poor quarterback play following Kurt Warner's retirement, Arizona made the big move to acquire Kolb from Philadelphia after the lockout ended last month. The Cardinals sent cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-round draft pick to the Eagles and gave Kolb a five-year, US$63 million contract, with $21 million guaranteed.
Kolb was unable to practice right away because he signed the new contract, giving him only five practices before his exhibition debut. He completed four of seven passes for 68 yards and also scrambled for 19 yards.
"It's crazy to think the five days I've been here, because we've already come a long way," Kolb said. "It's exciting to see what the future holds and how much better I can get."
Kolb targeted Fitzgerald on four of his seven throws. He struggled on the first drive against Oakland's first-team defence, with his only completion going for no gain to Early Doucet.
But when the Raiders brought mostly reserves for the second drive, Kolb got the Cardinals moving. He completed an eight-yard pass to newly acquired tight end Todd Heap on the first play. Kolb then completed the long ball to Fitzgerald followed two plays later by a 17-yard pass.
"He's a great quarterback," receiver Stephen Williams said. "He's got a great arm. You can just tell the difference and stuff out there. We're still working on timing and stuff. We've only been working out with him for a few practices, but you can just tell the greatness in Kevin already."
The Cardinals then moved the ball down to the one-yard line but Beanie Wells was stopped for no gain on consecutive runs by Oakland's defensive line.
The Cardinals got on the board in the final minute of the half on an 18-yard touchdown pass from John Skelton to Stephen Williams that gave them a 7-6 lead. Skelton also drove Arizona to a field goal on the opening drive of the second half.
Richard Bartel threw an eight-yard score to Rob Housler in the third quarter for the Cardinals.
The Raiders had to settle for field goals on their two first-half scoring drives as the offence stalled as it got near the Arizona end zone. Jason Campbell opened the Jackson era with the deep ball owner Al Davis loves as the Raiders drew a 35-yard penalty when Rashad Johnson interfered with Marcel Reece down the sideline.
The Raiders moved to the 21 but Campbell's third-down pass was batted down at the line by Darnell Dockett, leading to a 39-yard field goal by Janikowski.
Campbell moved the Raiders from their one-yard line to field goal range on his second drive with help from a 26-yard pass on third-and-long to training camp rookie sensation Denarius Moore. Khalif Barnes was then called for his third false start penalty of the game as Janikowski lined up for a 52-yard field goal attempt, forcing a punt.
Moore had three catches for 37 yards, as well as a 56-yard punt return called back by a penalty.
"There was a question in my mind that pretty much nothing matters until it happens in a game so I just wanted to come out here, keep a positive head and show my team I'm capable of doing it in a game, too," Moore said. "I'm not going to worry about it anymore."
Notes: Heap had a sprained left thumb. X-rays were negative and he said he could have returned. ... Raiders backup S Hiram Eugene left in the third quarter with a dislocated hip.