The next game on the schedule for the winless Oakland Raiders was a trip to Cleveland to face the Browns. The Raiders were coming off a 24-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals and the Browns were coming off a bad 24-6 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. But, if you ever want to the right the ship and return to your winning ways, all you have to do is get the Raiders on your schedule. The Browns won the toss and deferred to the second half. Kicker Billy Cundiff kicked the ball deep into the end zone and rookie return man TJ Carrie took a knee.
The Raiders started at their 20 and quarterback Derek Carr started the game with a quick pass to wide receiver Andre Holmes for a gain of 15. Two runs by running back Darren McFadden moved the ball to the 50. Instead of sticking with the running game, offensive coordinator Greg Olson called for a halfback option that fell incomplete. That was followed by a short run by running back Maurice Jones-Drew and a short pass to wide receiver James Jones. The drive stalled at the Cleveland 39-yard line. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski came on for a long field goal attempt and this is where things got really stupid. Instead of trying a long field goal, holder Matt Schaub got in the shotgun formation and promptly fumbled the snap. This was followed by a deep pass that was picked off by safety Tahsaun Gipson and returned it to the Oakland 48. Olson, what the hell were you thinking by calling those plays?
From the 48, the Browns took to the air on first down as quarterback Brian Hoyer completed a 14-yard pass to wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. But that was the only positive yardage they would get on this possession and Cundiff came on for a 52-yard field goal. The kick was good and the Browns led 3-0 with 9:54 to go in the first quarter.
The Raiders managed to get a first down before having to punt. Another infuriating event occurred on this “drive.” On a third and short situation, the Raiders brought in their heavy formation and it looked like they were going to pound the ball with McFadden. Wrong! The play was a pass to wide receiver Andre Holmes that fell incomplete. Again, what was Olson thinking this time? I can appreciate the fact that he wanted to catch the Browns off guard, but there are times when you just need to pound the ball, get a first down and keep the drive alive. Punter Marquette King hit a short 30-yard punt that was downed at the Cleveland 29-yard line.
Hoyer spread the ball around to three different receivers with the big play being a 48-yard pass to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel. On third and ten from the Oakland 24, Hoyer completed a nine-yard pass to wide receiver Miles Austin. But there was a flag on the play and cornerback Carlos Rogers was flagged for defensive holding. That gave the Browns a first down at the 19. They got as far as the 15 and the drive stalled there. Cundiff kicked a 33-yard field goal and the Browns led 6-0 with 2:28 to go in the game.
Neither offense could do much until the 11 minute mark of the second quarter. The Browns started at their 14 and Hoyer found tight end Jordan Cameron for a gain of 18. Two runs by running back Terrance West netted five yards and on third and five, Hoyer competed a pass to Hawkins for a gain of seven yards. Hoyer found Hawkins yet again on the next play and he was dragged down at the Oakland 39-yard line. From the 39, Hoyer went deep down the middle for tight end Jordan Cameron and he caught it for a gain of 21 yards. After he caught the pass, he was hit hard and knocked out of the game by safety Brandian Ross. That drew a flag for unnecessary roughness and moved the Browns to the nine-yard line. The Raider defense once again prevented them from going much further and they had to settle for a 26-yard field goal. The kick was good and the Browns led 9-0 with 5:46 to go in the first half.
The Raiders started at their 20 and on third and five, Carr found Jones for a gain of 13. Completions to McFadden, Rivera and Holmes moved the ball to the Cleveland 27. That’s where the drive came to an end as Carr’s pass to Jones on third and five fell incomplete. Janikowksi came on and made his 46-yard attempt. With 1:50 to go in the first half, the Browns led 9-3.
The Browns took over at their 20 and gained exactly one yard on three plays. Punter Spencer Lanning got off a 50-yard punt that was fielded by Carrie at the Oakland 29. He returned it eight yards and the Raiders set up shop at their 37. Things got off to a good start as Carr found Holmes on the right side for a gain of 31 yards. They got as far as the 20-yard line when Carr spiked the ball with two seconds remaining. Janikowksi made his 38-yard field goal attempt and at halftime, the Browns led 9-6.
There’s not a whole lot to talk about regarding the third quarter. But things got interesting with 6:36 remaining. The Raiders took over at their nine and a seven-yard run by McFadden and completions to McFadden and fullback Marcel Reece quickly moved them into Cleveland territory. On third eight from the 45, Carr found wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins on the left side for a gain of 12. Things were looking really good on this drive. The passing game was sharp and McFadden was running very well. Then it all exploded in their face. On second and six from the 29, McFadden found himself a nice hole to run through and just when it looked like he might break free, he was hit by safety Donte Whitner. The ball popped straight up and into the hands of cornerback Joe Haden. He returned it 34 yards and the Browns took over at their 47-yard line. I know it was only the third quarter, but that was devastating to the Raiders and they never recovered. From the 47, Hoyer found Hawkins wide open on the right side for a gain of 32 and a first down at the Oakland 21-yard line. Hoyer hooked up with Hawkins two more times and on the second time, it was good for a four-yard touchdown. Cundiff made the point after and the Browns led 16-6.
Then the punting began again. The Raiders couldn’t anything with the ball. Cleveland couldn’t do much either and at the 3:48 mark of the fourth quarter, the Raiders took over at their 13. On second and nine from the 14, Carr was sacked and the ball came loose. The Browns recovered and two plays later, running back Ben Tate ran it in for a touchdown. Cundiff made the point after and the Browns led 23-6 with 2:26 to go in the game. The Raiders managed to score with four seconds left as Holmes caught a ten-yard touchdown pass. And that’s that. The Browns won 23-13. With that win, the Browns improved to 4-3 and the Raiders dropped to 0-7.
For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 34 of 54 for 328 yards and one touchdown pass. Mychal Rivera led the team in receptions with seven and receiving yards with 83. On the ground, Darren McFadden led the way with 59 yards on 12 carries. As a team, the Raiders rushed for 71 yards on 22 carries. Defensively, linebacker Sio Moore led the team in solo tackles with eight. Although Justin Tuck had the only sack, the defense did a good job in this game. Throughout the year, they have been giving up big gains on third down. That wasn’t the case in this game. The Browns were 2 for 12 on third down conversions.
For the Browns, Brian Hoyer completed 19 of 28 for 275 yards and one touchdown pass. Andrew Hawkins had a good day as he led the team in receptions with seven and receiving yards with 88 and a touchdown. The Browns had a horrible day on the ground. They only gained 39 yards on 25 carries. Ben Tate was the leading rusher with 26 yards on 15 carries. Defensively, cornerback Joe Haden was all over the place. He led the team in solo tackles with eight, had one tackle for a loss and recovered a fumble. Linebacker Paul Kruger also had a good game with three sacks.
Here’s a question. Why try 54 passes against the Browns? They have the worst run defense in the league. I sincerely do not get it. I’d love to hear an explanation from Olson about his horrible game plan. Up next for the Raiders is a trip to Seattle to play the Seahawks. I wonder what kind of game plan Olson will come up with to get a win over the defending champions. Whatever it is, I am sure it won’t work. Until then, take it easy.
The Frustrated Raider Guy