December 16, 2017

Just Lose Again, Baby

The Cleveland Browns headed west to rain soaked Oakland, California to take on the Oakland Raiders.  The Browns were coming off a big 20-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Raiders were coming off yet another loss.  Last week, it was a 34-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.  The Browns won the toss and deferred to the second half.

The Raiders started at their own 14.  A four-yard run by fullback Marcel Reece and a 21-yard completion to tight end Brandon Myers moved them to the 39-yard line.  On third and one from the 48, quarterback Carson Palmer took the ball up the middle for a first down at the Cleveland 49.  But, the drive would stall at the 42.  Facing a fourth and three, head coach Dennis Allen opted to punt instead of going for it.  Can’t say that I agree with that decision.  Your team is three and eight and playing in front of a sparse crowd.  Why not go for it?  You have absolutely nothing to lose!  Lechler punter the ball away and the Browns took over at their 14-yard line.

Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden started things off with a scramble up the middle for seven yards.  A four-yard run by rookie Trent Richardson and a 14-yard pass to wide receiver Josh Gordon ( he is also a rookie)  got the Browns a first down at the 39.  A nine-yard run by Richardson and a 19-yard run by running back Montario Hardesty put the ball at the Raider 33.  On second and ten, Weeden went deep for tight end Ben Watson, but safety Matt Giordano was there to intercept the pass at the three-yard line.  He returned it 24 yards to the Raider 27.

Some more good running by Reece and a seven-yard completion to Myers moved the Raiders to the 50.  They would go no farther and Lechler punted the ball away again.  The Browns dinked and dunked their way up-field on the strength of short completions to Gordon, Watson and Richardson.  A five-yard run up the right side by Richardson moved the ball to the Raider 48 and gave them a first down.  On second and ten from the 48, Weeden completed a pass to Watson for a gain of 20.  Giordano was injured on this play and would not return.  That meant a paper thin secondary just got thinner.  Is that really possible?  Giordano was replaced by Mike Mitchell.  The Browns would get as far as the 23 before having to settle for a field goal.  Kicker Phil Dawson made his 41-yard attempt and the Browns took a 3-0 lead with 13 minutes to go in the the second quarter.

The Raiders had a quick three and out and the Browns took over at their 38.  An 18-yard pass to wide receiver Greg Little gave them a first down at the Raider 44.  Next was a bomb up the left side that was caught for a 44-yard touchdown by Gordon.  He had no problem getting behind cornerback Ron Bartell and Weeden’s pass was perfect.  It looked entirely too easy.  Dawson added the point after and the Browns went up 10-0 with ten and a half minutes to go in the second quarter.

So, the Raiders found themselves in a hole once again.  They punted after three plays and the Browns did the same.  With seven minutes to go, the Raiders took over at their 30.  Running back Jeremy Stewart got the drive off to a nice start with an 11-yard gain up the left side.  Then he ran up the right side for 14 more yards and a first down at the Cleveland 45.  Palmer brought out the no huddle offense and completed an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Denarius Moore.  But, after those two nice runs by Stewart, they abandoned the running game and Palmer threw three straight incomplete passes.  Kicker Sebastian Janikowski was called on for a 51-yard field goal attempt.  The kick was good and the Browns now led 10-3 with four and a half minutes to go in the first half.

The Browns started at their 20 and more completions to Little and Gordon had them moving again.  On third and two from the Raider 37, Weeden looked for Gordon again, but his pass was picked of by cornerback Phillip Adams at the eight-yard line.  With just over a minute to go, the Raiders went to their no huddle offense again.  Completions to Reece, Myers and wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey netted a first down at the Cleveland 43.  With time running short, Janikowski came in to try a 61-yard field goal.  He had the distance, but the kick sailed wide right.  At halftime, the Browns maintained their 10-3 lead.

An unnecessary roughness penalty was called on tight end Richard Gordon on the kickoff and an offside penalty on defensive tackle Tommy Kelly was called two plays later.  The Raiders are definitely in the Christmas spirit.  They just gave the Browns 20 free yards.  On first and ten from the 50, Watson was flagged for holding and that moved them back ten yards.  A nine-yard pass to Little, a three yard-run by Richardson and a six-yard pass to wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi made it fourth and two from the Raider 42.  The defense brought the blitz and got to Weeden, but he managed to get the pass off and it was caught by Richardson for a gain of 21.  They moved the ball to the 17 and the drive stalled there.  Dawson made his 35-yard field goal attempt and the Browns now led 13-3 with ten minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Raiders started at their 18 and put together a good drive with Palmer spreading the ball around to four different receivers.  But, on third and ten from the Cleveland 35, defensive end Juqua Parker got by left tackle Jared Veldheer and sacked Palmer for a loss of seven and knocked the Raiders out of field goal range and they had to punt again.

The Browns started their next drive at their ten and moved the ball to the Raider ten in four plays.  The big play was a 54-yard completion to Massaquoi.  But they wouldn’t get any further and Dawson came on to attempt a 28-yard field goal.  It was blocked by defensive tackle Desmond Bryant and the Raiders took over at their 20.  On first down from the 36, Palmer launched a deep ball for rookie wide receiver Rod Streater.  He caught the pass in stride and raced into the end zone for a beautiful 64-yard touchdown.  The pathetic sum of 43,641 people applauded enthusiastically.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders now trailed 13-10 at the end of the third quarter.

The Browns found themselves in a deep hole on their next drive as they started at their own nine-yard line.  They got as far as their 45 and were forced to punt.  They were flagged for fair catch interference and the Raiders got the ball at their 27.  This was their chance to take the lead.  Palmer completed a pass to Moore for 11 yards and another for 19 yards to Streater.  That gave them a first down at the Cleveland 43.  A completion to wide receiver Juron Criner and another one to Myers netted a first down at the 33.  Then it happened.  Palmer took the snap and looked to his left.  He put up a wounded duck that was picked off by cornerback Sheldon  Brown at the six.  After the game, Palmer took the blame for that interception and said he didn’t give Criner a chance to make a play on the ball.  That was a killer.  What was even more of a killer was the Browns marched 94 yards down the field on 14 plays and took six minutes off the clock.  The nail in the coffin was a three-yard touchdown run by Richardson.  Dawson made the point after and the Browns now led 20-10 with three and a half minutes to go in the game.  With one second remaining, Palmer found Myers in the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown.  Too little, too late.  Final score: Browns 20 Raiders 17.  The Browns got their first road win since week two of the 2011 season.  The win improved them to four and eight and the loss dropped the Raiders to three and nine.

For the Browns, Brandon Weeden completed 25 of 36 for 364 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.  Josh Gordon and Ben Watson each had six receptions and Gordon led the Browns in receiving yards with 116 and a touchdown.  Trent Richardson ran for 72 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.  As a team, the Browns rushed for 122 yards on 30 carries.  Defensively, Cornerback Tashaun Gibson led the Browns with seven solo tackles.  Cornerback Sheldon Brown also had a good game with four passes defensed and a big interception.

For the Raiders, Carson Palmer completed 34 of 54 for 351 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  Brandon Myers led all receivers with 14 catches for 130 yards and one touchdown.  Jeremy Stewart led the Raiders in rushing yards with 46 on nine carries.  As a team, the Raiders only called 17 running plays and ended up with 85 yards.  I am baffled as to why offensive coordinator Greg Knapp called so many passing plays with the team averaging five yards a carry.  Defensively, Tyvon Branch led the Raiders with eight solo tackles.  Defensive end Lamarr Houston also had a good game with one sack, two tackles for a loss and one pass defensed.

This was just another lesson in frustration.  Horrible play calling, horrible clock management, dropped passes, missed communication between Palmer and his receivers, stupid penalties and a turnover in a key situation all led up to another loss.  It sure would be nice to write about a Raider win once in a while.  I don’t see that happening in the immediate future.  Up next? A Thursday night game at home against the AFC West champion Denver Broncos.  Weeden picked the Raiders apart for 364 yards.  What do you think Peyton Manning will do?   Can’t say that I am looking forward to watching what happens.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy

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