The score between the Oakland Raiders and the Cleveland Browns does not truly show the amount the Raiders dominated this game. The final score was a touchdown difference, 27-20, but the game itself never really felt anywhere near that close. From the start to the finish, minus a hiccup in the middle, the Raiders dominated this game.
When the offense plays like this the Raiders are going to be a very tough team to beat, and that includes the best of the best on the schedule. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper, lovingly referred to as AC/DC, connected over and over again throughout this game in ways that left Raiders fans salivating at the future. Derek Carr was as confident as we have ever seen him on his way to the 2nd 300+ yard passing game in a row and Amari Cooper's quickness was just obscene.
The way that Amari Cooper can turn on a dime and immediately hit full speed is stunning, and I don't mean that figuratively. I mean literally, his ability to turn and go left his defenders momentarily stunned as they attempted to match his quickness and failed. I honestly don't know of anybody in the NFL that can turn and go that quickly, he seems to be at full speed from his very first step forward.
The fumble that turned the momentum to the Browns and made this game so much closer than it should have been aside, Amari Cooper was amazing. You can see the confidence and chemistry growing by the day between Cooper and Derek Carr, and to think these two could lead the team for the next decade is just astounding. That is putting the cart before the horse still, but the horse is starting to gain speed to catch up and surpass the cart.
The part lost with so much energy coming from AC/DC though is the work of Latavius Murray. It is simple, when the Raiders hand him the ball they win. They are 4-0 when he has more than 15 carries in a game, and 2-0 when he goes over 100 yards. He did both those things yesterday when he ran for 139 yards on 26 carries.
Murray's 5.3 yards per carry was booned by a huge 54 yard run in the 3rd quarter, but he ran hard all day either way. You can not understate the importance of a running back's performance like this on a team with the passing weapons that the Raiders have. It is priceless to force the defense to respect the run when they are already doing everything they can just to stop the pass.
Unlike in the first two games where the defense failed to put up any sacks and gave up 33 points in each contest, they actually showed up to play yesterday. They were in the backfield consistently pressuring Josh McCown all day long. McCown still found way too much success considering he ended the game with 341 yards and 2 TD's, but it wasn't an easy day for him like it was for Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton the previous two weeks.
The Raiders managed to get not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, but 5 sacks in this game against LeBron James' hometown Cleveland team. That is a good game from any pass rush, but the Browns actually have one of the best offensive lines in all of football. To get 5 sacks and only give up 39 yards rushing against that offensive line is possibly the most impressive statline in this whole game.
The best part to me of the whole game was the Charles Woodson interception to seal it. Just like last week it took the Raiders making plays at the end to win, and they actually made them! It was a game that the Raiders dominated but when the Browns were coming back it still gave that "Here we go again" feeling in my stomach. Except then they made the plays and won the game, they battled to the end and won.
The old Raiders would have failed, they would have let victory be snatched by the jaws of defeat. Not this team though, two weeks in a row they were put in a position that they would have failed in for years and they came out victorious. This one was ever sweeter having the big play be made by Charles Woodson though, he continues to amaze despite injury and age growing his long legacy even further.
There is still a ton of work for the Raiders to do, nobody should be calling for them to be a playoff team just yet at 2-1. However, there is no denying that this is a fun, up and coming team to watch and that they have officially put their 2015 opponents on notice. Those teams, and their fans, that circled their game against the Raiders as easy victories will have to get their erasers handy because this will not be an easy team to beat.
The opening game to the season was absurdly awful though, it was arguably the most embarrassing season opener in history. As good as these past two wins have been, that one loss was as bad. The Raiders need to make sure that whatever team it was that showed up in Week 1 will not be showing it's ugly head again any time soon.
However, that terrible loss might have been a good thing. They didn't show up for that game, they got embarrassed, and they have turned around and worked their tails off to not let it happen again. You don't forget a beat down like they got from the Bengals Week 1, bad teams stew on that beat down though and good ones make sure to work harder to insure it doesn't happen again.
The one specific area that Ken Norton Jr. and the Raiders defense needs to get figured out though is defending tight ends. This is absurd the amount of damage that opposing teams are doing with their tight ends, and 2 of the 3 players were virtually unknown.
This week the tight end that was unstoppable was one Gary Barnidge who managed a career high 6 receptions for 105 yards and a TD. Gary, freaking, Barnidge. This isn't Travis Kelce of the Chiefs (who the Raiders will be facing twice this year), this isn't Rob Gronkowski, this isn't even Tyler Eifert who was the Bengals up and coming TE that dominated Week 1. This is Gary. Freaking. Barnidge.
The Raiders know that t
his is a major issue so it will be interesting to watch how they adjust to their lack of ability to cover the seams. One thing is for sure, Raider Nation already should have more faith in adjustments from this staff than Dennis Allen's team. This coaching staff has repeatedly made adjustments throughout these games to fix issues that didn't work, Allen just kept beating his head against the wall.
Now the Raiders have a very winnable game against the Chicago Bears who are 0-3, coming off a shut out loss, and are missing their starting QB and best WR Alshon Jeffrey. What the Bears do have however, is a very good Tight End in Martellus Bennett and an elite running back in Matt Forte.
You can bet the Bears have seen the lack of ability to stop tight ends from the Raiders and their game plan will have Bennett heavily involved and they will back that up by using Forte as a receiver a lot as well. That is a dangerous combination for a team this inept at covering seam routes.
It will be a great test therefore though at the coaches ability to straighten an obvious issue out. That is next week though, enjoy this week coming off of back to back victories for the first time since 2012. They have a winnable game next week too and then after that they play the division leading Denver Broncos, if the Raiders still have a winning record after that then we can start really getting excited about this team.