Once again, I must start by saying how many difficult decisions were made. There is a lot of blame to go around in a game like this that had the Raiders fighting to get back in it several times. Several big plays by the Browns and mistakes by the Raiders were simply offset by those same players stepping up at other crucial times and thereby escaping the Buster label.
Kolton Miller, Donald Penn, Brandon Parker
A lot of people want to give these rookie tackles the benefit of the doubt, and that’s fine. I have given Miller credit when it’s due. I also understand he was going against Myles Garrett a lot in this game, making for arguably his toughest match-up of the season. But that’s just how it goes sometimes.
The first drive of the second quarter saw Donald Penn miss his block to give up a sack. Two plays later, on third and two, Garrett bull rushed Miller into Derek Carr’s lap, causing Carr to hit Miller’s helmet on the throw and it fell incomplete. The 47-yard field goal attempt was no good.
The following possession, with the Raiders then trailing 9-7, Penn was called for a false start on third and 3 and the Raiders couldn’t pick up the third and long.
Penn would give up a run stuff for a loss on the first series of the third quarter. The next series Miller would run into Jared Cook who was trying to get from left to right to block on a screen pass and causing a broken play.
To Miller’s credit, he had a play that helped Marshawn get outside for his 52-yard run. But on third and three, Miller would miss his block on a Dwayne Harris end around and it was stopped for a loss and all the Raiders got out of the big run was a field goal to pull to within four.
Penn would suffer a leg injury in the third quarter and Parker would replace him at right tackle. Early in the fourth quarter, with the Raiders having re-taken the lead, they were looking to extend it. They got a 49-yard return from Dwayne Harris, but three plays in Parker would give up pressure on Carr, disrupting a screen pass and they would settle for a field goal.
The following possession would end with pressure coming from both sides to sandwich Carr in the pocket on what should have been a strip sack, but was ruled as just a sack and the Raiders would punt down 35-34.
With 4:20 remaining and now down 42-34, the Raiders needed to score. On the first play of the ensuing possession, Miller gave up a pressure that led to an incompletion. Later in the same drive, with the Raiders in second and five at the Cleveland 6-yard-line, Miller missed his block to get Martavis Bryant tackled for a loss. Now in third and long, two incompletions would end the drive with a turnover on downs.
Raiders would get the ball first to start overtime 2nd on the second play, Miller gave up a run stuff. Two play s later, he would give up a tackle for loss on a pitch out to Jalen Richard. A 7-yard completion would put the Raiders in range of a 46-yard field goal to win it. But on third and three, Parker would give up the sack for a 4-yard loss, pushing the field goal to a 50-yard attempt off the dirt and McRane missed it wide left.
I agonized over this one. He looked great on the first couple series and made the pass breakup on the final defensive play of the game for the Raiders on a deep attempt for Duke Johnson. But there were too many other crucial plays I couldn’t reconcile.
On the first scoring drive of the day for the Browns, he gave up an 8-yard catch, a 21-yard catch on third and 12, and missed a tackle on a 5-yard run to the 8-yard-line. The drive went to the 1-yard-line and was luckily stopped to hold them to a field goal.
Early in the third quarter, the Browns looked to extend their lead. Melvin gave up a 6-yard catch to put them in third and one. They converted and then moved into scoring range due to Melvin giving up a 23-yard catch.
A Carr interception gave the Browns the ball back at the 31-yard-line and they picked up 24 yards on that on the first play with Melvin flagged for pass interference. Two plays later, he gave up the touchdown from two yards out.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Raiders had retaken the lead. They lined up in third and five and Melvin gave up an 11-yard catch. The drive still alive, they would complete a 59-yard pass and then punch it in to take back the lead. They would, of course, add to that lead. So, that pass breakup in overtime was great, but had he not given up so much offense earlier, he may not have been in that position in the first place.
The first Browns touchdown of the day saw a lot of players victimized as Nick Chubb streaked 63 yards for the score. Among them was Erik Harris who was the last line of defense but took a bad angle and couldn’t make the play. He would miss a tackle in the next touchdown as well from 49 yards out.
In the third quarter, with the Browns in first and goal at the 7-yard-line, Harris was blocked down field to allow a 5-yard run. They scored the touchdown on the next play. Then on the Browns’ final touchdown, he was among those who missed the tackle on another long Chubb touchdown run, this time from 41 yards out.
He had a few decent catches in this game. But nothing compares to one of the worst drops you’ll ever see. Down 17-7 in the second quarter, he got wide open deep and Carr put it where it needed to be for the touchdown and he simply didn’t make the catch. It was really quite amazing and rather hard to explain, let alone describe. And it’s inexcusable, especially considering making plays like that are the whole reason he’s even on the team.