Up next for the Oakland Raiders was a trip to Cleveland to take on the Browns. The Raiders were coming off a big 37-33 win over the Baltimore Ravens and the Browns were coming off a 28-14 win over the Tennessee Titans. Cleveland kicker Travis Coons kicked the game off and return man Taiwan Jones returned the kick to the 23-yard line. Quarterback Derek Carr got things off to a good start with two completions to wide receiver Amari Cooper. The second completion was for a gain of 18 yards and a first down at the Cleveland 48-yard line. On third and eight from the 46, Cooper was the target again and he made the catch for a gain of 23 yards. Running back Latavius Murray got in on the action and ran up the left side for a gain of 16 yards. But an idiot wearing a striped shirt threw a flag and that play was nullified by a holding penalty. That took the wind out of their sails and the drive stalled at the five-yard line. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski came into the game and his 23-yard field goal attempt was good. The Raiders led 3-0 with 8:33 to go in the first quarter.
There was a whole lot of punting going on after that. As quarterback Josh McCown continued to struggle, Cleveland fans were hoping to see Johnny Manziel make an appearance. No such luck. At the end of the first quarter, the score remained 3-0. With 12:13 to go in the second quarter, the Raiders got the ball back at their 20-yard line. Two more penalties moved them all the way back to the five-yard line. Two carries by Murray gave them some breathing room. On third and 15, Carr completed a pass to Murray. He was brought down short of the first down marker and Marquette King came into the game for yet another punt. Fortune would smile on the Raiders on this play. King got the punt off, but linebacker Barkevious Mingo was flagged for roughing the punter and that gave the Raiders a first down at the 40. A ten-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree netted a first down at the 50. But a false start would move them back to the 45. From the 45, Carr found Cooper across the middle for a gain of 40 and a first down at the Cleveland 15-yard line. Two carries by Murray gained 11 yards and on second and goal from the three, Carr found wide receiver Andre Holmes for a touchdown. Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 10-0 with 6:46 to go in the second quarter.
The Browns started at their 20 and on third and 14, McCown noticed that tight end Gary Barnidge got behind the secondary and the pass went for 40 yards and a first down at the Oakland 44-yard line. Three plays later, McCown found Barnidge again for another big gain and a first down at the 29-yard line. From the 29, running back Duke Johnson was thrown for a loss of six yards. That moved the ball back to the 35, but McCown bounced back on the next play with a 17-yard completion to wide receiver Travis Benjamin. Running back Isaiah Crowell ran up the right side and was dragged down at the one-yard line. Two carries by Crowell couldn’t get the Browns into the end zone. And a pass to Barnidge was knocked away by linebacker Malcolm Smith. The Browns decided to go for it on fourth down, but before they could attempt a play, they were flagged for a false start. That moved them back five yards and Coons came into the game for a 24-yard field goal attempt. The kick was good and the Raiders led 10-3 with 1:44 to go in the second quarter.
Jones returned the kickoff to the 30 and things got off to a good start as Murray ran up the middle for a gain of 20 yards. From the 50, Carr found Roberts standing all by his lonesome on the right of the field. Roberts made the catch and headed up the right sideline for a gain of 36 yards. Two plays later, Carr found Roberts again. This time it was in the corner of the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 17-3 at halftime.
The Browns punted on their first possession of the second half and the Raiders took over at their eight-yard line. On second and five from the 13, Murray got loose again and ran up the right side for a gain of 54 yards. That put the ball at the Cleveland 33-yard line. On third and one from the 24, Murray got the call again and he had no problem getting the first down. But the drive would stall at the 16-yard line. That meant it was time for another field goal attempt. Janikowski split the uprights and the Raiders were up 20-3 with 9:25 to go in the third quarter.
With the Cleveland crowd looking thoroughly disgusted, McCown decided it was time to give them something to cheer about. An eight-yard run by Johnson and completions to wide receiver Brian Hartline had the Browns moving in the right direction. On fourth and two from the 46, they decided to go for it. Now, if you were calling the plays, what would you do? Run it up the middle? No, probably not. Go deep to Benjamin? That’s not a bad idea. But what is the one thing the Raiders have failed to do since this season started? For a reason unknown to everyone, they cannot cover the tight end. So, on fourth down, McCown calmly looked to his left and completed a pass to Barnidge for a gain of six yards and a first down at the Oakland 48-yard line. That was entirely too easy and it had me screaming obscenities at my television. Three plays later, the Browns found themselves in another third and long situation and this time Hartline came to the rescue with a nine-yard reception and a first down at the 37. Three plays later, McCown threw for Barnidge up the right side and he hauled it in for a 28-yard touchdown. Coons made the point after and the Raiders led 20-10 with 3:32 to go in the third quarter.
From the 20, Murray ran up the left side for a gain of three. On second down, Carr tossed a short pass to the left that was caught by fullback Marcel Reece. With several blockers ahead of him, Reece turned on the speed, stumbled, regained his balance and rumbled up the left side for a gain of 55 yards and a first down at the Cleveland 22-yard line. Two more carries by Murray netted a first down at the eight. Two plays later, Murray capped off the drive with a six-yard touchdown run. Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders went up 27-10 with 14:30 to go in the game.
The Browns started at their 20 again and things didn’t get off to a good start as McCown was sacked for a loss of seven yards by defensive end Khalil Mack. But, on third and 17, things got better for the Browns. With little pressure, McCown had plenty of time and he hooked up with Hartline for a gain of 41 yards and a first down at the Oakland 46-yard line. A defensive holding penalty on the Raiders and a nine-yard pass to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel kept the Browns moving. But on third and ten from the 19, Mack got to McCown again and sacked him for a loss of six yards. The ball came loose, but the Browns managed to recover it. Coons made his 41-yard field goal attempt and the Raiders now led 27-13 with 10:57 to go in the game.
The Raiders managed to get a first down on their next drive but it came to an abrupt end. On third and 11 from the 36, Cooper caught a pass and while he was trying to get some extra yardage, he was hit hard by linebacker Chris Kirksey. The ball came loose and it was recovered by defensive end John Hughes. That was just what the Browns needed if they wanted to mount a comeback. McCown went to work from the Oakland 44-yard line. Completions to Gabriel, Benjamin and wide receiver Andrew Hawkins quickly moved the Browns down to the four-yard line. From the four, McCown found Benjamin for a touchdown. Coons made the point after and that made the score 27-20 with 6:28 to go in the game.
What the Browns needed now was a quick three and out. That is exactly what they got and King punted the ball away. While the ball was in the air, Benjamin emphatically waved for a fair catch. Unfortunately for him, the ball came loose and was recovered by rookie linebacker Neiron Ball of the Raiders at the Cleveland 43-yard line. A couple of first downs and a field goal would likely give the Raiders a win. But on third and five, Carr threw a pass out of bounds. I really don’t even know who it was intended for. But what I did know is that an incomplete pass stops the clock. More obscenities were being screamed by me. With 2:36 to go, Janikowksi came into the game for a long field goal attempt. But, head coach Jack Del Rio changed his mind and opted to punt. Good idea. Taiwan Jones did an excellent job of downing the ball at the two-yard line.
From the two, McCown fired a deep ball up the left side for Benjamin that fell incomplete. On second down, McCown found Hawkins for a gain of 12 yards. Completions to Johnson and Hartline had the Browns approaching Oakland territory. Wide receiver Marlon Moore caught a pass for a gain of 15 yards and that put the ball at the Oakland 49-yard line. Another catch by Johnson was good for 18 more yards. On second and eight from the 29, McCown was sacked for a loss of six yards by Ball. That made it third and 14 from the 35. McCown went deep up the right side for Benjamin and the pass was picked off by safety Charles Woodson. It was truly a beautiful play and that sealed a 27-20 win for the Raiders.
But this wasn’t just an ordinary win. For the first time since December of 2009, the Oakland Raiders won a game in the EASTERN time zone! They did WHAT? Yes! It’s official! Sound the trumpets! Hallelujah! Holy crap! It wasn’t pretty and they nearly choked the game away, but they managed to come out on top. That win improved their record to 2-1 and the Browns fell to 1-2.
For the Raiders, Derek Carr completed 20 of 32 for 314 yards and two touchdowns. Amari Cooper led all receivers in receptions with eight and receiving yards with 134. On the ground, Latavius Murray had another solid game and finished with 139 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. As a team, the Raiders rushed for 156 yards on 30 carries. Defensively, linebacker Malcolm Smith led the team in solo tackles with six. He also knocked away a pass at the goal line and had one sack. The defense did a good job of pressuring McCown and sacked him five times.
For the Browns, Josh McCown completed 28 of 49 for 341 yards, two touchdowns and one very costly interception. Gary Barnidge led the team in receptions with six and receiving yards with 105 yards and a touchdown. Isiah Crowell was the leading rusher for the Browns and he finished the game with 36 yards on ten carries. 17 of those yards were gained on one carry. As a team, the Browns rushed for 39 yards on 14 carries. Defensively, linebacker Karlos Dansby led the team in solo tackles with five. The offensive line did a good job of keeping Carr upright and he was not sacked once.
The next game on the schedule for the Raiders is a trip to Chicago to face the Bears. They had a rough game against the Seahawks and have not won a game this year. But they are not to be taken lightly. Winless teams are dangerous. Especially at home. Martellus Bennett is a good tight end and if the Raiders fail to cover him, he’ll have a huge game. They also need to contain Matt Forte. Until then, take it easy.
The Raider Guy