September 24, 2017

Browns 23, Raiders 13

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

Cleveland, the ’64 King

When Cleveland Was King

LeBron James and Johnny Manziel are giving Cleveland hope that it will finally win its first major sports championship since 1964. The smarter money at this point is on LeBron and the Cavaliers as they have a talented roster even before the addition of Kevin Love and, basketball being what it is; only a few great players are necessary to take a team from the lottery to a championship.

Mr. Manziel has a far tougher row to hoe. Even when he’s eventually named the Browns’ starting quarterback he still needs about 20 other great players around him before little number 2 makes Cleveland number 1.

Whoever does take the next title for Cleveland (oh yeah, there’s also a rumor out there that the Indians are still in the playoff race) they will supplant the 1964 Browns as the last Cleveland team to have a parade, hoist the hardware and make General Moses smile.

But what about those ’64 Brownies? How good were they?

Very.

The 1964 Cleveland Browns went 10-3-1, coached by Blanton Collier who, in his eight seasons as an NFL head coach from 1963 to 1970, all with the Browns, never had a losing season and made the playoffs five times.

On the field the Browns were led on offense by Jim Brown who topped the NFL with 1,446 yards, averaging better than 100 yards per game in the 14-game season. Brown’s 1,446 yards were nearly 300 better than his closest competition, Green Bay Packers fullback Jim Taylor. Brown also led the league in total yards from scrimmage by more than 200 yards and was tied for third that year in rushing touchdowns with seven.

He also attempted one pass and completed it, good for 13 yards and a touchdown.

Mostly thanks to Jim Brown, Cleveland was second in total offense in ’64, but was also helped by a capable quarterback named Frank Ryan who started all 14 games and threw 25 TD passes, good enough for tops in the league.

When you have the NFL’s best running back and also the league-leader in TD passes you’re probably going to be good even if your defense is terrible, but the ’64 Browns’ defense was far from terrible, ranking fifth in the league in fewest points allowed.

The ’64 Browns had All-Pros on defense in cornerback Bernie Parrish, linebacker Jim Houston, defensive end Bill Glass, kicker Lou Groza and, back on offense, guard Gene Hickerson, tackle Dick Schafrath, split end Paul Warfield, and, of course, Jim Brown in the backfield.

Other than a 23-7 loss to the lowly Pittsburgh Steelers on October 10 of that season (Jim Brown only carried the ball eight times) the ’64 Cleveland Browns handled the opposition with little shame though they did turn the ball over with alarming frequency, including a six-turnover victory against the Dallas Cowboys. Strangely, the only game in 1964 that the Browns did not turn over the ball was a 28-21 loss to the Packers on November 22.

The Browns won the Eastern Division by a game over the St. Louis Cardinals, the only other team in the East with a winning record that year and earned a spot in the NFL Championship Game against the mighty Baltimore Colts who were easily champions of the West with a 12-2 record under second year coach Don Shula and league MVP Johnny Unitas at quarterback.

The game was played in Cleveland Municipal Stadium on December 27, 1964 in 34-degree weather with mud, wind and animus. The Colts were heavy favorites.

Browns 27, Colts 0.

The game was scoreless at halftime but then in the second half Ryan connected with receiver Gary Collins for three TDs and Jim Brown, though he never scored, muddled through with 114 yards on 27 carries and also caught three passes for 37 yards.

On defense, the Browns held Unitas to just 95 yards passing and intercepted him twice.

Browns 27, Colts 0.

The Browns were awarded rings for winning the title and Jim Brown’s was later stolen and has recently been up for auction, something Mr. Brown is trying to stop.

Thirty-one years after the 1964 title game the Browns decided to move, to of all places, Baltimore, which had lost the Colts to Indianapolis a decade before.

One of the stipulations of that controversial move was that the Browns themselves actually would not move, only the coaches and players would go as the team became the Baltimore Ravens while the Cleveland Browns, the team records, trophies, etc., remained in Cleveland, dormant, until the Browns were reincarnated, as an expansion team, in 1999.

One of the things the Browns were forced to leave behind when they bolted for Baltimore was their trophy for winning the 1964 NFL title. The thing of it is, though, there really was no trophy for Cleveland to keep.

In those days the NFL used to hand out the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy, which was named for an NFL official. But that trophy was, like hockey’s Stanley Cup, handed off to a new champion each year so the next year the Browns had to give it to the Packers who still have it because after the 1966 season, in which the Packers were champs again, teams got a new trophy every year which is now, of course, the Lombardi Trophy.

The 1964 Cleveland Browns didn’t get a trophy to keep until 2004 when the NFL commissioned a brand new trophy to present to an old champion.

Cleveland still has that trophy. And is still looking for another one.

 

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

Franchises Returning to Their Former Homes

This Sunday’s St. Louis Rams vs. Cleveland Browns game isn’t generating a lot of buzz. But the significance of the game shouldn’t be lost on the city of Cleveland.

The Rams who were originally founded in Cleveland, will be making their 11th trip back to the city Cleveland. The Rams have a record of 4-6 in Cleveland, since they left the icy shores of Lake Erie in 1946.

The Rams are one of ten current NFL teams, to have ever played an official NFL game in a city they use to call home.  These teams have a winning record of 48-42 in their former cities.

Franchises Records at their Former Home

Team Former City Moved W-L 1st Game Back
Result
Cardinals Chicago 1960 3-6 1965: Bears L 13-34
St. Louis 1988 7-3 1998: Rams W 20-17
Chargers Los Angeles 1961 7-10 1970: Rams L 10-37
Chiefs Dallas 1963 1-4 1975: Cowboys W 34-31
Colts Baltimore 1984 4-2 1998: Colts L 31-38
Lions Portsmouth 1934 1-0 1934: Cin Reds W 38-0
Raiders Oakland 1982 Didn’t play in Oakland until they moved back. ¹
Los Angeles 1995 Haven’t played in Los Angeles since.
Rams Cleveland 1946 4-6 1950: Browns L 28-30
Los Angeles 1995 Haven’t played in Los Angeles since.
Ravens Cleveland 1996 8-4 1999: Browns W 41-9
Redskins Boston 1937 7-4 1944: Bos Yanks W 21-14
Titans Houston 1997 6-3 2002: Texans W 13-3

¹ The Raiders played an exhibition game in Oakland in 1989, they lost to the Houston Oilers 21-23.

 

Raiders 24, Browns 17

The Cleveland Browns made the trip out to Oakland to take on the Oakland Raiders.  The Browns were coming off a bye week and the Raiders were coming off an emotional 25-20 win over the Houston Texans.  Emotions were running high again as this was the first game played in Oakland without Al Davis watching his team.  He was honored before the game and at halftime.  The highlight for me was seeing John Madden lighting a torch in memory of Mr. Davis.

The Raiders won the toss and deferred to the second half.  Unlike most kickoffs, kicker Sebastian Janikowski didn’t send this one through the end zone.  It was taken at the nine and returned 30 yards by Mike Adams.  There’s not much to say about the first possession for the Browns.  Running back Peyton Hillis was stopped for a gain of one on first down, that was followed by an incomplete pass and on third and long, Raider safety Matt Giordano sacked Brown’s quarterback Colt McCoy for a loss of ten yards.  Punter Brad Maynard punted the ball 54 yards and Raider return man Denarius Moore was brought down for a loss of four on the return.

The Raiders went to work form their own 12 and running back Darren McFadden quickly ran off the left side for a gain of 24.  He then added gains of three and six yards.  Running back Michael Bush got the third down conversion and the Raiders were near midfield.  On second and ten, Raider quarterback Jason Campbell found wide receiver Jacoby Ford for a gain of nine.  On third and one, backup fullback Manase Tonga got his first career carry and rumbled up the middle for a gain of twelve.  That gave the Raiders the ball at the Cleveland 32.  McFadden got four yards on first down and on third and six, the Raiders converted another third down as Campbell connected with Ford for a gain of seven.  On the next two plays, Bush and McFadden both had four-yard gains which set up a third and two at the 13.  From there, Campbell found rookie tight end David Ausberry for a gain of four and another third down conversion.  That put the ball at the Cleveland nine.  After McFadden rushed for five yards on first down, he finished off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.  Janikowski made the point after and the Raiders led 7-0 with just under six minutes to go in the first quarter.

The Browns took over at their own 20 and three straight runs by Hillis got them a first down at the 30.  From there, they went no farther and were forced to punt again.  Maynard got off another good punt and the ball was downed at the Raider 14.  Campbell hooked up with wide receiver receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey for gains of nine and 21 to move the Raiders to their own 41.  On first down, a reverse to Moore was quickly snuffed out by the Browns for a loss of three.  On second down, Campbell scrambled across midfield, but lost the ball as he was diving forward.  The ball was recovered by defensive back Mike Adams.  That gave the Browns the ball at their own 43.  McCoy wasted no time going to the air and hit tight end Evan Moore for a gain of 11.  On third and 11, McCoy went deep for wide receiver Josh Cribbs, but the pass was overthrown.  However, defensive tackle Tommy Kelly jumped offside and that gave the Browns another chance.  On third and six from the Raider 42, McCoy found Cribbs for a gain of 23.  On second and seven, McCoy hit wide receiver Greg Little for a gain of 15 down to the one.  On the next play, McCoy found tight end Alex Smith wide open for a one-yard touchdown pass.  Kicker Phil Dawson made the point after and the game was tied at seven.

Dawson kicked off and return man Jacoby Ford proved that his hamstring is healed as he ran back the kick 101 yards for a touchdown.  On the return, Ford ran down the right sideline and it appeared that he may have stepped out of bounds.  The play was reviewed and showed that he did not step out and it was indeed a touchdown.  Janikowski made the point after and that made the score 14-7 with just under 12 minutes to go in the second quarter.

Cleveland took over at their own 13 and on third and ten, McCoy connected with Little for a gain of 12.  On first down, McCoy scrambled for four yards and running back Montario Hardesty added five more.  On third and one, McCoy found wide receiver Brian Robiskie for another third down conversion.  Then on second and ten, Smith caught another pass for a gain of 13.  Hardesty ran off right tackle for six more and the Browns found themselves in Raider territory.  But, a holding call was followed by two more incomplete passes and the Browns were forced to punt.

The Raiders took over at their own 19.  After a short gain by McFadden, a pass interference call on the Browns gave the Raiders a first down at the 25.  An incomplete pass to wide receiver Louis Murphy and a short completion to McFadden gave the Raiders a third and eight at the 27.  On third down, Campbell scrambled for seven yards and was hit hard as he was going to the ground.  Campbell stayed down and was helped off the field.  I have learned that he has a broken collarbone and is likely out for the year.  On fourth and one, quarterback Kyle Boller took over at quarterback and dove into the pile for a gain of two and a first down.  But the drive stalled and punter Shane Lechler booted a 49-yard punt that was returned by Cribbs for a loss of one.  The Browns took over at their own nine with 1:48 remaining in the first half.  They quickly went three and out and the Raiders followed suit.  The score remained 14-7 at halftime.

The Raiders got the ball first in the third quarter as Taiwan Jones returned the kick to the Raider 19.  Some quick gains by McFadden and a short completion to Heyward-Bey moved the ball to the 42.  On third and four, Boller scrambled for a gain of five to get the Raiders a first down in Cleveland territory.  On first down, Boller fumbled and the ball was recovered by McFadden.  On second and 15, Boller went deep for wide receiver Chaz Schilens.  The play was ruled incomplete, but it appeared Schilens had both feet in bounds.  It didn’t matter as center Samson Satele was flagged for illegal use of the hands.  That moved the ball back to the 38.  Nine yard completions to Moore and Bush weren’t enough to get a first down and the Raiders punted the ball away.  The punt was fair caught at the ten and once again, the Raider defense was all over McCoy.  The Browns were forced to punt and the Raiders took over at their own 35.

On third and seven, Boller hooked up with Jacoby Ford for a gain of 27.  That gave them a first down at the Cleveland 35.  On first down, Boller badly missed a wide open Heyward-Bey that would have likely been a touchdown.  I think a cheerleader ended up catching that pass.    McFadden ran up the middle for two on second down and Boller came up short on his scramble on third down.  That made it fourth and five at the 30.  Janikowski trotted on to the field and nailed a 48-yard field goal.  That made it 17-7 with three minutes to go in the third quarter.

Cribbs fielded the kickoff at the eight and brought it out to the 25.  On second and ten, McCoy fumbled and Tommy Kelly pounced on it to give the Raiders a golden opportunity.  On first down, a reverse to Ausberry was quickly stopped for a loss of three.  With speedy guys like Ford, Heyward-Bey, Murphy and Moore, why would you try a reverse to a tight end?  That play made no sense.  Boller missed Moore badly on second down and on third down, he was sacked and the ball was jarred loose by Jabal Sheard for a loss of ten.  Fortunately for the Raiders, Boller was able to recover the fumble.  That made it fourth and ten from the 35.  Janikowski came on to try another long field goal.  Shane Lechler took the snap and instead of another cannonball from the Polish Cannon, Lechler tossed the ball to a wide open Kevin Boss.  Boss took it in for a 35-yard touchdown to put the Raiders on top, 24-7.  That was definitely the play of the game.

With just under a minute and a half to go, the Browns started their next drive from their own 21.  But, it wasn’t much of a drive.  The Raiders continued to harass McCoy and forced three straight incomplete passes.  Maynard’s punt was fair caught by Moore at the Raider 14.  The Raiders could do absolutely nothing with the ball and punted again.  Cribbs fielded the punt at his own 27 and returned it to the Raider 42  for a 31-yard return.

A short run by Hardesty and short completions to Little and tight end Ben Watson gave the Browns a first down at the Raider 29.  That was as far as they would go and kicker Phil Dawson made a 47-yard field goal to make it 24-10 with just under 12 and a half minutes to go in the game.

Jacoby Ford took the kickoff two yards deep in the end zone and headed straight up the middle.  He  almost got loose again, but he was tackled at the Raider 35.  On second and seven, Boller hit Heyward-Bey for a gain of 16 to move the ball into Cleveland territory.  On first down, a holding call on Satele moved the ball back ten yards.  But, a 14-yard pass to Heyward-Bey and three straight runs by Bush put the ball at the Cleveland 30.  On third and five, Boller found Heyward-Bey again for 15 more yards.  Three straight runs by McFadden put the ball at the five and set up a fourth and one. Everyone in the stadium thought that Janikowski would be brought in to put the Raiders up by three scores.  Instead, Bush ran up the left side and was stuffed for no gain.  The drive took almost eight minutes off the clock, but it didn’t result in a score.  What was Hue Jackson thinking?  With 4:44 to go in the game, there was no way the Browns would score three times!  I can understand wanting to go for the kill and go up 31-10, but a field goal should have been the obvious choice.  Not a smart move, Hue.

The Browns got the ball at their own five and McCoy went right to work.  All of a sudden, he had time to throw and he also started finding open receivers.  He spread the ball around to four different receivers and quickly moved the ball to the Cleveland 45.  Finally, the Raiders got some pressure on him and he was sacked by defensive end Lamarr Houston.  But, McCoy would not be denied as he hit wide receiver Mohammed Massaquoi and Little for ten-yard completions.  That put the ball at the 37.  On the next play, the ball was tipped and appeared to be intercepted by safety Tyvon Branch.  But instant replay showed that the ball hit the ground.  On second and ten from the 25, McCoy found Little again for 13 more yards.  Two plays later, Massaquoi caught another pass.  This one was good for a 12-yard touchdown.  Dawson made the point after and the score was now 24-17 with 1:06 to go in the game.

All the Raiders had to do was recover the onside kick and the game was theirs.  But, like I said last week, this is the Raiders we’re talking about.  There’s never a dull moment when it comes to this team.  Dawson’s kick was recovered by defensive back James Dockery and the Browns got the ball at the Raider 49.  The play was reviewed as it looked like Cribbs may have illegally touched the ball before it went ten yards, but the call on the field stood.  The Raiders really started to come after McCoy on this drive, but he hit Cribbs for seven yards on first down to move the ball to the 42.  That would be his last completion of the day.  After two incomplete passes and facing a fourth and three from the 42, his pass intended for Massaquoi fell incomplete and that gave the Raiders a 24-17 win.

Well, it wasn’t pretty and the loss of Campbell definitely hurts.  The question now is what do the Raiders do?  They definitely have to sign another quarterback.  The quarterback depth chart now reads: Kyle Boller, Terrelle Pryor and Shane Lechler.  Maybe sign David Garrard?  Turn the whole thing over to Boller?  During his five game suspension, Pryor was given time to learn the offense, but my personal opinion is that he isn’t ready.  Boller said he felt comfortable out there, but he missed wide open receivers and even his completions were low.  It will be interesting to see what happens in Oakland this week when it comes to the quarterback situation.  I have just learned that the Raiders have contacted David Garrard and former Raider, Josh McCown.  Given the choice, I’ll take Garrard.

Darren McFadden led the Raiders in rushing with 91 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.  Michael Bush added 28 more and the Raiders rushed for a total of 151 yards.  Before Campbell left the game, he was six for nine for 54 yards with no touchdowns and no picks.  Boller went eight for 14 for 100 yards and also had no touchdowns or picks.  Heyward-Bey led all receivers with six catches for 82 yards.  Another good statistic from this game is that the Raiders were only flagged five times for 35 yards.  Very impressive.

For the most part, I liked what I saw from the Raider defense.  Although they registered only two sacks, they were all over McCoy and held the Browns to 65 yards on 21 carries.  McCoy completed 21 of 45 for 218 yards, two touchdowns and no picks.

The Kansas City Chiefs will be heading out to Oakland next week and just like Cleveland, they’ll be coming off a bye week.  Very interesting.  You don’t often see a team face two opponents in a row coming off byes.  After starting out the year with losses to Buffalo, Detroit and San Diego, the Chiefs have had two straight wins over Minnesota and Indianapolis.  They should be rested and ready for the Raiders.  Until then, take it easy.

The Raider Guy