Will either coach be back next season? [via cdn1.sbnation.com]
Well-established that this was the last game the Raiders (5-9) had at winning back-to-back games this season, Oakland traveled to Cleveland to take on the Browns (3-11) in search of their first six-win season since the Super Bowl year of 2002. Yes, it has been that long. Locally, the Browns avoided their first blackout since 1985. Thankfully for us Raiders fans within the 75-mile radius of the damn blackout rule, this was a road game so we didn't have to worry about find an Internet stream. Anyway, let's see how the Raiders fared in this road test having won their last two away from Oakland.
Charlie Frye didn't look so sharp in his return to Cleveland today. [via a.espncdn.com]
First Quarter: Damn, yes, Gary Russell is still returning kicks; however, this one was downed in the end zone. Right off the bat, things went sour. On the second of the play, Charlie Frye was intercepted by David Bowens on a pass intended for Darren McFadden. Cleveland, with great field position inside the red zone, cashed in on the second play of the drive in part to a 17-yard touchdown run by Jerome Harrison. Stupid play-calling on the second drive led to a 51-yard punt from Shane Lechler wasn't returned for much by the dangerous Joshua Cribbs. Not choosing to run the ball, Frye's inept passing killed the drive. What's up with that, Tom? On the Browns' next possession, a 19-yard pass from Derek Anderson to Evan Moore combined with some nice Jerome Harrison runs set up an eventual 42-yard field goal from Phil Dawson. Cleveland had taken a 10-0 lead with just over eight minutes to play. On the next Oakland possession, the passes continued; however, this was a screen pass to McFadden so it was all good. Michael Bush had some nice runs, Chaz Schilens had a big 16-yard reception on third down and the Raiders looked to be moving the ball well. From the 16 yard line, Frye fired and hit Louis Murphy on the left side for a big gain; however, a holding penalty on Cornell Green negated that and then Langston Walker went down with an injury. He was carted off. An incomplete pass on third down brought out Sebastian Janikowski for a field goal. Of course, he nailed it and the lead was cut to 10-3. On the kickoff, Hiram Eugene nearly ended up with the ball. A short kick that was sort of wobbly, Eugene ran down and almost grabbed it at the 25 yard line. Jerome Harrison, who appears to be the do-it-all back, scooped it up. Injured on the play, he took the next two plays off. Chris Jennings, his replacement, was stopped for a five-yard loss by Tommy Kelly. On second down, a wildcat play designed for Cribbs was stopped cold by Matt Shaughnessy. On third down, Gerard Warren got in there and disrupted Anderson as well as Trevor Scott as a good pass rush marked the third consecutive negative play. A Reggie Hodges punt was returned for a small gain by Johnnie Lee Higgins, but the ball was near midfield. That didn't matter. A seven-yard run by Bush was followed up by an incomplete pass and a penalty on Chris Morris. A third down pass was incomplete intended for Murphy. A punt by Lechler returned for a few yards by Cribbs ended the quarter.
Sebastian Janikowski hit all three of his first half field goals. [via a.espncdn.com]
Second Quarter: The second quarter began with the Browns starting inside their 10 yard line. Basically, Cleveland couldn't get anything going. Punting from inside their own end zone, a fair catch interference combined with the already good field position put the Raiders at the opposition's 30 yard line. Moving down to the 11 yard line, a corner blitz by Mike Adams thwarted that drive. Janikowski's second field goal of the game cut it to a 10-6 score still in favor of the Browns. An offsides penalty on Tommy Kelly opened up the next drive for the Browns, and then Harrison ran for a six-yard first down. A second down sack credited to Kirk Morrison brought up third down, but the Browns managed to convert on pass to rookie Brian Robiskie out of nearby Ohio State. A first down tackle by Richard Seymour in the backfield then a good defensive play in the pass game by Thomas Howard brought up a third down and long that wasn't converted. Stanford Routt and Michael Huff were over there and the pass was incomplete. Shockingly, the Browns tried a fake; however, the Raiders had jumped offsides. Eugene left too early. The next time, it wasn't a fake. Instead, the punt was downed at the one yard line thanks to a nice play by Joshua Cribbs. A play-action fake and pass to Gary Russell went for 11 yards. Whew, breathing room is nice. Two plays later, the Raiders were looking at a third down needing three yards to convert. Zach Miller made his fourth grab of the game and picked up the first down. After a few yards on first down, Bush goes for about 10 yards on the left side on second down. After a timeout called by Frye, Morris committed his second penalty in relief for Walker at left guard. On first down and a mile, Frye was smacked by Matt Roth with a little help from David Bowens. A second run by Bush and a third down completed pass to Murphy wasn't enough. With the two-minute warning upon us, a punt awaited us after the commercial break. Lechler's punt was returned by Cribbs for a minimal gain; however, two penalties on Cleveland pushed the Browns back inside their 10 yard line. A couple of run plays by Harrison and then we had ourselves a personal foul penalty. A draw by Harrison led to a first down. A run play later, there were some more personal foul penalties. After offsetting penalties, Richard Seymour picked up a 15-yard penalty. Boy, there was an ugly scuffle after that one. After a pass was completed to Mohamed Massaquoi, Stanford Routt was ejected for a personal foul penalty. I have lost count as to how many personal foul penalties there have been in this quarter alone. Of course, all of that penalty yardage -- about 30 alone thanks to Seymour and Routt -- cost us seven points. Chris Johnson was beat by Massaquoi, who perhaps may have pushed off, and it resulted in six points. An extra point later, Cleveland had taken a 17-6 lead. After decent field position on the kickoff, two quick passes to Miller and McFadden each set up a 61-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski. Sebastian came through and nailed it, setting up a new career-high in the process. Still, Cleveland maintained a 17-9 lead going into halftime.
Jerome Harrison had another big day on the ground for Cleveland. [via a.espncdn.com]
Third Quarter: To start the second half, it wasn't Cribbs but rather Harrison returning the kick. It was a very good return into Oakland territory. Back-to-back Harrison runs led to a third down and Cribbs picked up 17 yards out of the wildcat formation. Three run plays later, the Browns couldn't get a first down. Phil Dawson came out and easily nailed a 33-yard field goal to give Cleveland a 20-9 lead early in the third quarter. Oakland had the ball back and needed points to stay in touch with Cleveland now. Chris Morris was whistled for his third penalty, but the Browns declined it. A short dump off to McFadden from Frye to avoid the blitz from the opposite worked really well. Frye, after starting 0-for-3, was now 11-for-17 at this point. Higgins broke Frye's streak of completions by dropping another easy pass. Goodness, was that Higgins or Darrius Heyward-Bey? A punt by Shane Lechler that took a bad bounce set up the Browns at the 27 yard line. A one-yard run by Harrison was followed up by another penalty on the Raiders, this one on William Joseph. A third down pass was completed to Massaquoi and Cleveland was in business. Michael Gaines than caught a 25-yard pass after a Cribbs run. On the very next play, Harrison danced into the end zone on the direct snap; however, an illegal block in the back penalty was called on Gaines and the touchdown didn't stand. Moving onward from the penalty, the Browns still managed to get it inside the five yard line on some more run plays. Then, on third down, Harrison coughed it up. The ball was loose and Greg Ellis grabbed it for the Raiders. Cleveland squandered a golden opportunity to put the game out of reach for good with that turnover. Oakland had possession with just under five minutes to go in the quarter. Frye started off hitting someone that can actually catch the ball and that's Chaz Schilens. A 20-yard gain gave the Raiders some room to breathe. McFadden, who only has 15 yards rushing at this point, carried it on first and then again on second down. Frye's third down pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and the turnover led to nothing other than a Lechler punt. Good punt return coverage stopped Cribbs after a four-yard return. Jonathan Holland made the nice tackle. The Browns moved the ball some, but didn't get very far. A short completed pass on third down that was shy of the first down ended the third quarter.
The Raiders didn't deliver the final blow in this physical game despite two ejections. [via a.espncdn.com]
Fourth Quarter: Johnnie Lee Higgins called for a fair catch at around the 20 yard line to begin the fourth quarter. Higgins was involved on a big pass play down the right side and then McFadden ran on a toss to the left side for about eight yards. A few plays later, McFadden reaches for an 11-yard pass and hauls it in. A second sack (although credited with 1.5) by Matt Roth, this one for 10 yards, took some momentum away. The next play, however, killed it all. Looking for Higgins on the left side, Brandon McDonald jumped it and picked off Frye. It was Charlie's second pick of the game. At this point, I don't even care. I see that Johnson's pass interference against Massaquoi was the 10th penalty of a grand total of 100 yards. That's the way to be a disciplined team, guys. Dang, this Browns crowd is a little harsh. An incomplete pass with their team up by 11 points with just over nine minutes to play and they're still booing! They're already in field goal range with a chance to make this a two-touchdown game. Harrison continues to run the ball well, but the Browns are short on third down. Instead of three points, they elect to go for it; however, after a late audible, it appears as if Cleveland tried to draw Oakland offsides. Hell, you can't blame them. A timeout was called, Dawson came out and nailed his third field goal of the game. The Browns now had a 23-9 lead over the Raiders with 8:31 to play. On the kickoff, Tony Stewart made unnecessary contact with the official and was ejected. That brings the Oakland total to two players! Moving the ball through the air, Frye found Schilens, Watkins and Miller. A stupid penalty on Miller that was incorrectly called moved the ball back 15 yards after a big-time gain. Another target got into the act on the drive as Murphy made a nice third down catch. A pass interference penalty later on put the ball at the two yard line. An incomplete pass intended for Schilens and then an awkward-looking play that was ruled an incomplete pass brought up third down. With the rain and snow mix coming down, Eric Wright made a nice play in the end zone with an interception; however, it appeared that Wright only had one foot within the boundary line. Tom Cable challenged the play and successfully won the challenge. So, instead, it's fourth down and the Raiders needed two yards. Once again, it's a shot gun for a fourth consecutive play. Frye looked to go to Murphy on the right side and he did. The pass was incomplete, but there was a penalty marker down. Murphy committed offensive pass interference. It was declined and Cleveland had it. Chewing up minimal clock, the Browns punted back to the Raiders. A completed pass to Schilens and then a big play to Miller led to Marcel Reece making his first catch of the game. Wait, he's still on the roster? Anyway, some guy who shouldn't be on the roster next year tossed his third interception of the game. Cleveland milked some clock, punted it back to Oakland and then the game was over after some meaningless plays.
Tell me you'll try harder next time, and no, that's not what she said. [via cdn1.sbnation.com]
The Report Card: I'll give grades to the pass offense, rush offense, pass defense, rush defense and special teams. Of course, you're welcome to give your own grades in the comments.
Pass Offense: D+ -- Yeah, Frye was pretty damn bad. Sure, all of those yards look good; however, there was really nothing established in terms of rhythm and ball movement. Three interceptions and low completion percentage earns you this type of a grade.
Rush Offense: C -- It's hard to grade this. Bush's 10 carries led the team. McFadden wasn't really effective, but Frye was able to scramble. Overall, I think it was pretty average even though we didn't really get a good look at it.
Pass Defense: A- -- Anderson's completion percentage was even worse than Frye's. He didn't throw pick, but wasn't really effective. Other than that last two-minute drive thanks to 30 penalty yards unrelated to pass defense, the pass defense was pretty good.
Rush Defense: D -- Harrison had a big game and Cribbs was effective out of the wildcat formation. There really isn't much more that can be said here.
Special Teams: B+ -- Everything was very nice except for Lechler's bad day. He only averaged 44.2 yards per punt today, so he finally had a bad today. It happens. The coverage was nice against Cribbs and Janikowski was marvelous. Letting Harrison through was just a minor hiccup in an overall pretty solid performance.
My Thoughts and Tidbits: The inconsistency continues. The same team with wins against Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Denver has losses to Kansas City, Washington and Cleveland. Well, gang, it is what it is. With one more game left, we're taking on Baltimore next week with those guys fighting for a playoff spot. It's just pretty much looking ahead to next season now. Enjoy the holiday season, guys.
- San Francisco Chronicle: No one to blame but themselves [David White]
- San Francisco Chronicle: Janikowski nails 61-yard field goal [David White]
- Inside Bay Area: Error-prone Oakland Raiders beaten by Cleveland Browns [Steve Corkran]
- Inside Bay Area: Oakland Raiders fail to win two in row again, falling to Cleveland Browns [Steve Corkran]
- Inside Bay Area: Plenty of blame to share for latest Oakland Raiders' loss [Cam Inman]
- Inside Bay Area: Final: Browns 23, Raiders 9 [Jerry McDonald]
- Raider Beat: RAIDERS FOUL PLAY STINKS UP CLEVELAND [Paul Wexler]
- The Associated Press: Harrison leads Browns to 3rd straight win [Tom Withers]
- Comcast SportsNet: Raiders put on ice in Cleveland, lose 23-9 [Comcast SportsNet]