The Cleveland Browns won their second game in a row Sunday afternoon, defeating the Oakland Raiders by a final score of 20-17. The victory snaps a 12-game road losing streak for the Browns. Ironically, that road losing streak also started with a loss in Oakland last season.
The story leading up to this game was that it was going to involve monsoon-like conditions. Instead, the several-day storm in Oakland subsided about an hour before kickoff, so both teams got to play with sunshine, very little wind, and warm temperatures.
Things got off to a rocky start in the first quarter for Brandon Weeden. After the Browns were driving down the field with a couple of nice gains on the ground, Weeden sailed a pass over Ben Watson's end when trying to throw to the end zone. The pass was intercepted by S Matt Giordano, putting the drive to halt.
For much of the first half, Oakland's offense couldn't sustain long enough drives and were forced to punt. On the Browns' second possession, Weeden led the Browns down the field again. Near the start of the second quarter, the Browns settled for a 41-yard field goal by Phil Dawson, giving them a 3-0 lead.
After a quick three-and-out, the play of the game gave the Browns all the momentum they needed for the long run: Weeden connected on a deep ball with WR Josh Gordon, who went 44 yards for a touchdown. The Browns led 10-0. A couple of drives later, the Raiders got a 51-yard field goal from K Sebastian Janikowski. With the Browns trying to put together a drive of their own to close out the half, Weeden was intercepted again when targeting Gordon deep again. After a few plays, the Raiders tried a 61-yard field goal, but it was wide right.
The Browns got the ball first to begin the second half. The offense drove down to the red zone again, but had to settle for another field goal, this time from 35 yards out. Dawson connected, and the Browns were up 13-3.
The two possession lead seemed safe for awhile, especially when the Browns got off to a hot start on their next series: starting from their own 10 yard line, on first down, Weeden found Gordon for a gain of 20 yards. One play later, Weeden hit Mohamed Massaquoi on a catch-and-run of 54 yards, putting the Browns in the red zone again. They had to settle for another attempt by Dawson from 28 yards. To everyone's surprise, Dawson's kick fluttered wide left for his first miss of the season. The snap seemed bad, and the kick was also partially blocked.
The missed kick apparently swung the momentum in favor of the Raiders. Four plays later, Carson Palmer found WR Rod Streater up the seam for a 64-yard touchdown just beyond the outstretched leap of CB Buster Skrine. Just like that, it was a 13-10 game heading into the fourth quarter.
Things continued to look down for the Browns at the start of the fourth quarter. On a punt by the Browns, Skrine ran into the punt returner despite a fair catch being signaled, drawing a 15-yard penalty. Palmer proceeded to drive the Raiders down the field, and a first-down throw to TE Brandon Myers put the Raiders in field goal range. On the next play, Palmer threw the ball up the left sideline. Fortunately, CB Sheldon Brown continued the remarkable game he was having, intercepting the pass at the 6 yard line.
With over nine minutes to go in the game, how did the offense respond? Very well. Weeden and company drove the ball 94 yards for a game-sealing touchdown, as RB Trent Richardson punched it in with just under four minutes to play. With the Browns leading 20-10, the Raiders put together a garbage time touchdown to end the game as Palmer hit Myers for a score with one second to play. Oakland's hopeless onside kick attempt went out of bounds, and the game ended with one kneel-down from Weeden.
Was it a pretty win? Not necessarily, and teams have certainly done better against the Raiders this season. Remember that Cleveland also came into this game with a monkey on their back: a 12-game losing streak away from home. When Oakland seemed to be gaining the momentum in the second half, the defense and the offense combined for a hell of a fourth quarter: Brown's interception to prevent at worst a tie game, and the ensuing long drive by the offense to put it away.
Weeden threw for a career high 364 yards, and Gordon had a career high 116 yards receiving. Up next, the Browns host the Chiefs at home -- a Chiefs team that just saw Brady Quinn post a 132.1 QB rating, and Peyton Hillis run for a touchdown. The reunion with former Browns head coach Romeo Crennel will certainly be interesting.