4:15 PM ET, October 22, 2006
Arizona (1-5) at Oakland (0-5) Sunday 4:15 pm EDT
OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Oakland Raiders had a chance to select the biggest football celebrity on the West Coast in April's NFL draft.
With a glaring need at quarterback, the Raiders passed over a chance at selecting Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner who led Southern California to back-to-back national championships and went 39-2 as a starter.
Oakland tabbed strong safety Michael Huff with the seventh pick. The Cardinals were happy when Leinart fell to them with the 10th pick.
Leinart was expected to learn from the sidelines under veteran and two-time MVP Kurt Warner in his rookie campaign. But after Warner struggled in four games, Cardinals coach Dennis Green made the move to Leinart.
Leinart has showed the poise of a seasoned veteran in both of his starts - losses to Kansas City (23-20) and Chicago (24-23). Each of the losses ended with Leinart leading the team into field goal range, only to see Neil Rackers miss as time expired.
Playing on the Monday night stage for the first time, Leinart completed his first seven passes and threw for two touchdowns as the Cardinals built a 23-3 lead after three quarters against the Bears - one of two remaining unbeaten teams along with Indianapolis.
But Leinart and running back Edgerrin James both lost fumbles that were brought back for touchdowns and the Cardinals allowed an 83-yard punt return for a score by rookie Devin Hester with 2:58 remaining in what turned into one of the most devastating losses in franchise history.
Green, who was agitated enough to punch the podium in his postgame news conference, had another reaction Tuesday when he fired offensive coordinator Keith Rowen and promoted quarterbacks coach Mike Kruczek to the position.
Rowen's first job may be to get more out of the running game. James, a two-time rushing champion, gained just 55 yards on 36 attempts against the Bears. He has rushed for 398 yards on 148 attempts for a 2.7 average in six games.
While the Cardinals have problems, the Raiders have even more.
Instead of having Leinart at quarterback, the Raiders started the season with veteran Aaron Brooks, who has missed the last three games with a strained pectoral muscle as well as a rotator cuff injury.
Andrew Walter, a 2005 third-round pick who battled Leinart while at Arizona State, has completed just 46.2 percent (48-of-104) of his passes for 611 yards and two touchdowns with seven interceptions.
Walter went 13-of-26 for 189 yards and an interception in last Sunday's 13-3 loss at Denver. Oakland also committed 13 penalties for 95 yards.
Since the Raiders lost to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl XXXVII, they are just 13-40, including losses in their last 11 games. The losing streak is the longest in owner Al Davis' tenure, which began in 1963.
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Cardinals must bounce back
This is a game between two teams desperately in need of a win to regain some confidence in their individual organizations. The Arizona Cardinals have been a major disappointment this season, getting off to a 1-5 start.
Quarterback Matt Leinart has been a recent spark for a struggling offense. With wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald sidelined with a hamstring injury, the Cardinals need to get their run game in order to have any chance of salvaging this season.
On the other side of the field, the Oakland Raiders have gotten off to their worst start in recent history. With so much dissention among the team, a win against the Cardinals will help the Raiders regain some confidence as a unit.
Head coach Art Shell must get his team on track in order to regain confidence from owner Al Davis, who is growing ever impatient with the horrific play of his football team, while Cardinals' head coach Dennis Green tries to rally his team from an embarrassing loss against the Chicago Bears, as they face an awfully bad Raiders' bunch.
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|Avg Points Allowed||23.6||22.5|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||ARI|
|Rush Yds Allowed||ARI|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Oakland leads 2-1|
|Nov 24, 2002||ARI 20, OAK 41|
|Dec 2, 2001||ARI 34, @OAK 31|