Last week, I preached about how the Browns could have "won ugly" over the Jaguars if head coach Mike Pettine had kicked a field goal to go up 9-0. This week, Pettine got it right, and result was an "ugly" 23-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders, who fell to 0-7 on the season. The Browns improved to 4-3.
I should clarify that this was another solid performance for the Browns' defense, which forced 3 turnovers on the Raiders that led to 17 of the team's 23 points. The Browns' running game was non-existent on the day, rushing 24 times for 40 yards against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. QB Brian Hoyer was more accurate than he was a week ago, finishing the game 19-of-28 for 275 yards and 1 touchdown (QB rating of 111.5). That rating conceals the fact that Hoyer's decision-making was worse than we've seen all season: the Raiders dropped about 3 or 4 interceptions.
Nonetheless, the Browns got it done. Leading 6-0 mid-way through the second quarter, head coach Mike Pettine opted to kick a field goal when facing a 4th-and-goal from the 2 yard line. For much of the second half, the Browns clinged to a 9-6 lead -- it might not have seemed like much, but it was enough to bide time until the offense could make a play.
A clutch hit by SS Donte Whitner forced a fumble on RB Darren McFadden at the end of the third quarter. Then, a couple of connections to WR Andrew Hawkins led to a 4-yard touchdown from QB Brian Hoyer at the start of the fourth quarter, giving Cleveland what appeared to be a large lead at 16-6. A late fumble by QB Derek Carr allowed Cleveland to tack on a 5-yard rushing touchdown by RB Ben Tate to go up 23-6. Also, after Carr had been sacked just four times all season, OLB Paul Kruger brought him down three times today. The Raiders tacked on a garbage time touchdown from Carr to WR Andre Holmes with 0:07 to go in the game.
Up next, the Browns host the Buccaneers at home and then face the Bengals on Thursday night. With the AFC North division lead in sight, Cleveland clearly has a lot to clean up offensively. For now, let's enjoy our ugly win for what it's worth: a win.
In injury-related news, TE Jordan Cameron left with a concussion, CB K'Waun Williams suffered a neck injury, and DL John Hughes left with an ankle injury.
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