GLENDALE, Ariz. -- How much better can the Raiders get in 23 days?

Judging from a 31-27 loss to the Arizona Cardinals on Friday night at University of Phoenix Stadium, coach Dennis Allen, his staff and the Raiders have a lot of work to do before they're ready to open the season against the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 10.

For the second straight game, Oakland looked like a vastly improved defensive team. Arizona had just 48 yards of total offense in the first half, 41 of which came on its opening drive.

The offensive performance, and in particular that of quarterback Carson Palmer, was disconcerting as the Raiders' first team trailed 24-11 at halftime after twice failing to get touchdowns on goal-to-go possessions.

Poor special teams play was also an issue -- Arizona scored a touchdown on a blocked punt and set up another with a long punt return.

To make matters worse, Raiders wide receiver and return specialist Jacoby Ford emerged for the second half on crutches with a foot sprain of undetermined severity.

Palmer's numbers (13 of 24, 107 yards) weren't an accurate barometer of how he played.

Two misfires in particular stood out. Palmer badly overthrew tight end Richard Gordon on a first-and-10 early in the second quarter, with Kerry Rhodes intercepting the gift and racing 60 yards to set up a 32-yard field goal by Jay Feely.

Earlier, with a third-and-2 at the Arizona 23, Darren McFadden was wide open on a swing pass to the left -- a sure touchdown. Palmer's pass, however, led him too far, and McFadden couldn't keep both feet in bounds.

The Raiders were forced to settle for a 40-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal and a short-lived 8-7 lead.

"It's a team game. It looked like he missed the one throw (to Gordon). We'll go back and look at it," Allen said. "I think the linebacker might have gotten a hand on it. We've got to execute better.:

Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington (58) causes Oakland Raiders running back Mike Goodson (25) to fumble during the first half of a preseason NFL
Arizona Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington (58) causes Oakland Raiders running back Mike Goodson (25) to fumble during the first half of a preseason NFL football game on Aug. 17, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. The Cardinals recovered the ball. (Rick Scuteri/AP)

Also disturbing were two lost fumbles by running back Mike Goodson, playing in his first game after missing the exhibition opener with a neck injury. Goodson had fumbling issues in Carolina but has been sure-handed during training camp.

The first fumble led to a scoring drive in which quarterback John Skelton found a wide-open Anthony Sherman in the right flat for a 3-yard touchdown pass and a 17-8 Arizona lead.

When the Raiders followed with a three-and-out, Justin Bethel blocked and recovered a Marquette King punt, racing 19 yards for a touchdown and a 24-8 advantage.

On the Raiders' second possession, a 13-yard Palmer to Rod Streater touchdown pass was correctly nullified on replay because Streater lost possession while hitting the ground. He was interfered with on the play, setting up a first-and-goal.

However, McFadden was stuffed on consecutive runs, and Palmer couldn't find an open receiver on third down, with Janikowski coming in for an 18-yard field goal.

Included in Oakland's defensive first half was a safety by Tommy Kelly, who said the club's pressure made starting quarterback Kevin Kolb "skittish," and a sack by Lamarr Houston deep in Oakland territory where Philip Wheeler and Tyvon Branch were coming on a jailbreak blitz.

Arizona outscored the Raiders 17-3 in the second quarter (two Oakland turnovers and a blocked punt) despite being outgained 90-4 and managing just two first downs to seven for Oakland.

  • Backup quarterback Matt Leinart (5 for 8, 66 yards) left the game with a cut on his right (nonthrowing) index finger after absorbing a head-to-head blow from third-string nose tackle Ricky Lumpkin.

    He was replaced by Terrelle Pryor (2 for 3, 9 yards and no points produced).

  • McFadden had nine rushes for 34 yards and one reception for 17 yards in the first quarter before taking the rest of the night off.

  • Place-kicker Eddy Carmona hit a 53-yard field goal with 5:36 left to get the Raiders within 31-27.

  • William Powell's 9-yard run finished a 73-yard, eight-play drive to put the Cardinals up 31-24 with 11:25 remaining. Quarterback Ryan Lindley's 30-yard strike to DeMarco Sampson over DeMarcus Van Dyke was the big play.

    Van Dyke later gave up a 31-yard pass from Lindley to Stephen Williams.

    "He needs to get better," Allen said. "We can't let him lose his confidence and get down. He needs to keep competing. He's still a young player."

  • Running back Lonyae Miller scored on a 1-yard run on Oakland's first possession of the second half to cap a 66-yard, nine-play drive set up by an interception by Chimdi Chekwa. A blocked extra point left the Raiders trailing 24-17.

  • Oakland tied it 24-24 when Carl Ihenacho's forced fumble of Lindley was recovered by Hall Davis for a touchdown.

  • Arizona's first touchdown was set up by a 46-yard Patrick Peterson punt return after a 71-yard punt by King.

  • Expectant fathers Michael Huff and Pat Lee missed the game to be present for the birth of their children.

    Others who did not play were punter Shane Lechler (knee), wide receiver Denarius Moore (hamstring), running back Taiwan Jones (hamstring), running back Rashawn Jackson (hip), linebacker Aaron Curry (knees), center Stefen Wisniewski (calf), tackle Ed Wang (shoulder), tackle Zach Hurd (head), tight end Brandon Myers (shoulder), defensive end Jack Crawford (foot) and defensive tackle Jamie Cumbie (foot).

    Aug. 25 game

    Detroit (1-1) at Raiders (0-2), 4 p.m. KQCA live; KICU (taped, 7 p.m.)

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