Cardinals 33

(1-3, 1-1 away)

Broncos 21

(2-3, 1-1 home)

9:00 PM ET, September 2, 2004


1 2 3 4 T
ARI 6 17 10 033
DEN 0 0 7 1421

Cards' offense struggles vs. Denver's backups

DENVER (AP) -- While Dennis Green was pleased with his kicker, he would rather see his offense score touchdowns.

Neil Rackers kicked four field goals as the Cardinals' special teams kept Arizona in the game until its offense got rolling in a 33-21 win over the Denver Broncos in a preseason game Thursday night.

"Neil has a lot of talent," said Green, who is in his first year as Cardinals coach. "We'd like to have had more touchdowns, but field goals will do."

Rackers kicked field goals of 45, 47, 57 and 47 yards as Arizona's offense struggled against Denver's backups.

The Cardinals held Denver to three plays and a punt on the game's first series and Karl Williams followed with a 39-yard punt return to the Broncos' 31-yard line. That set up Rackers' 45-yarder.

Coby Rhinehart blocked Denver's next attempt at a punt, and Rackers followed with a 47-yard field goal.

"Coach Green has had us do game-like field goals in practice every day to get us ready," Rackers said. "Not 14 field goals at a time, but two or so at any time. That means you have to be ready at any time and more comfortable in the games."

Arizona's offense didn't get comfortable until late in the second quarter, moving 77 yards in 12 plays. Josh Scobey capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown dive to make 13-0.

Josh McCown was done after that drive, finishing 5-for-8 for 41 yards. He put a scare into the Cardinals, midway through the first quarter.

Just after completing a pass, McCown was hit just above the left hip by Denver safety Chris Young. Grimacing and struggling to catch his breath, McCown took a knee as the Cardinals' trainers ran onto the field.

He returned after one play and stayed in for one more series.

Denver lost tailback Mike Anderson to a torn groin in the closing seconds of a victory over Houston last week and kept most of its starters out of the game to prevent against more injuries.

"Anytime you don't play 22 or 23 guys, it's not going to look perfect," Denver coach Mike Shanahan said. "We played with our young guys and at least came back in the second half."

Backup quarterback Danny Kanell seemed to take a step back after a solid start to the preseason, missing badly on several passes. He finished 2-for-8 for 24 yards and had a passer rating of 39.6 before being replaced by rookie Mike Mauck early in the second quarter.

Mauck struggled also. His first pass was well behind his intended receiver, and he later fumbled in the end zone after being sacked by Calvin Pace.

Ross Kolodziej fell on the loose ball for a touchdown, putting the Cardinals up 20-0 midway through the second quarter.

Rookie Tatum Bell, expected to be Quentin Griffin's backup at tailback, couldn't get much going in his first extended action of the preseason. He ran for 76 yards and a touchdown after missing three games with a broken hand.

"I would call my play inconsistent," Bell said. "I ran the ball well and hard at times and other times I didn't make the cuts I was suppose to."

The Cardinals took a 23-0 lead into halftime when Rackers converted a 57-yard field goal with 13 seconds left in the period. He booted a 47-yarder on Arizona's first possession of the second half.

Denver finally got on the board when Mauck drove the Broncos 84 yards on seven plays. He finished the drive with a 24-yard TD pass to Nate Jackson to cut the lead the 26-7.

Larry Croom scored for Arizona on a 4-yard run late in the third quarter, but Bell scored on a 5-yard run on the third play of the fourth quarter for the Broncos.

Bradley Van Pelt closed the scoring with a 14-yard TD run for the Broncos.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


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