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The Morning After: Huge win against Browns propels Raiders into easiest part of their schedule

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NFL: Cleveland Browns at Oakland Raiders Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Wow. What a bizarre and emotionally draining game, this one took every scratch of the nail to get. The back and forth was incredible, frustrating but incredible. It was a lot of fun when the relief of the final whistle finally came though, Derek Carr and his squad earned this one.

That of course is not the universal feeling about the Raiders in this game outside of Raider Nation, there is a fair amount of controversy surrounding it thanks to some questionable officiating. More specifically thanks to a completely blown call on an obvious fumble from Derek Carr and a 3rd down play reversal on where they spotted the ball.

The former is something very much worthy of complaining about, but the latter was actually a good call by the refs. It was a crazy reversal when it happened, it didn’t seem possible that he was short at all and it felt like another gaff from the refs. However, thanks to Silver & Black Pride community member stormtrooper2817’s FanPost, I am very happy to say I think it was a good call.

You can’t really blame Browns fans for being peeved at that call, but this picture looks pretty definitive to me. However, the early whistle on the Derek Carr fumble was legitimately egregious. That was a completely unacceptable mistake from the refs to call Carr down in the grasp (unreviewable by the way) when the ball was knocked out immediately on the play. It worked out for Raiders fans so we certainly won’t be complaining about it, but that was straight up awful officiating.

The refs actually had two other plays that were early whistles too, which normally is an oddity that doesn’t even happen once a game let alone three times. The other two were both against the Raiders too, once on a Seth Roberts catch that certainly looked like he got up before he was touched down and once on a Marshawn Lynch run where he was still breaking tackles when he was called down.

The Seth Roberts play happened too quick and there wasn’t a replay of it to be sure if it was a quick whistle or not, but the Marshawn Lynch play definitely should have been allowed to continue. He had a lot of space in front of him if he was allowed to keep running through his tackler on that play, and then the refs screwed up again by not penalizing him for kicking the ball in anger.

Enough about the refs though, let’s talk more about Marshawn Lynch instead because damn did he have a good game. He has been running hard all season long but he took it to another level this game with his power. Every time he had the ball he was punishing tacklers, it was truly glorious. Lynch had 20 carries for 130 yards and he added 3 catches for 27 yards, and one of those runs was a 52 yard beauty.

As much credit as Beastmode deserves on that sweep run, the person who actually deserves the most praise on the play was Martavis Bryant. He blocked his initial assignment to the ground early in the run and then turned into Lynch’s lead blocker after that. His running ahead of Lynch and blocking another would be tackler extended the run for an extra 20 yards or so.

Derek Carr also deserves credit for his monster game, completing 35 of 58 passes for 437 yards and 4 touchdowns. It wasn’t all good though because he had two more ugly interceptions on deep balls that he probably shouldn’t have thrown and the earlier mentioned fumble that the refs screwed up on.

Still, Carr had some huge drives in this one bringing the Raiders back from a 14 point deficit when the game was 28-14 and then leading the Raiders down to tie the game at the end of regulation with a touchdown pass to Jared Cook and a 2-point conversion to Jordy Nelson. It was great to see some of the 2016 magic come back to him, especially after blowing 4th quarter leads in all three of the previous games.

The defense has also looked very good much of the time this season but they are just getting killed by big plays. It’s ridiculous how many huge plays they have given up so far this season, and this game was no different. Out of the 5 touchdowns they gave up against the Browns, 3 of them were from 40 yards or more and one was set up by a 59 yard reception down to the 1 yard line.

As long as they weren’t being gashed ridiculously, they were actually playing really well. You can’t give them much credit for that when they gave up 42 points, but big plays are something that can be fixed easier than just being completely decimated by long drives over and over again. They also had 2 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries, both recovered by newly acquired DT Johnathan Hankins. One of those interceptions was returned for a touchdown by Gareon Conley.

Last but not least to mention, how about them pass catchers in this one. Jared Cook has been a monster all year for the Raiders and that continued here with 8 catches for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, he got help this game from Amari Cooper who had 8 catches for 128 yards and a TD, Jordy Nelson who had 5 catches for 48 yards and a TD, and Martavis Bryant who had 3 catches for 51 yards.

Bryant should have had another touchdown too, though that drive eventually turned into one of Jared Cook’s 2 touchdowns anyway. Bryant showed off his world class speed by eviscerating the Browns coverage for what should have been a wide open touchdown but he got himself tangled up trying to slow down for the ball and dropped the easy score.

That play was definitely on Martavis Bryant, but Carr needs to throw that ball on a line instead of having so much air under it that Bryant had to slow down for it. No excuse though, Bryant needs to make that play anyway because the ball hit him in the hands beautifully when it did finally come back to earth.

Overall though, what an exciting game and huge win for the Raiders. They really needed this win, especially with their most important stretch of the season coming up. The Raiders have the Chargers in L.A. next (overrunning an opponents stadium is huge motivation), then the struggling Seahawks, the Colts at home and the 49ers (again likely overrunning opponents stadium). If the Raiders can go 3 and 1 over those 4 games they suddenly would be back to being a .500 team.

That is entirely possible with that schedule, but if they had lost this game against the Browns there would be no confidence even going into that stretch. However, beating a Browns team by putting up 45 points on their normally very good defense is something that can propel this team forward. If they can win next week in L.A. especially, the momentum would be huge.

We will see, but for now let’s just be happy not to be included in the winless teams in the NFL category any more. The Raiders got their first victory in the Gruden 2.0 era, we get to celebrate that and hopefully now the team can have a little less pressure going forward. You can’t get multiple victories under your belt until you get the first one, and they finally got the first one now in Week 4.