The Browns avoided falling to two winless teams in a row in defeating the Raiders by a score of 23-13 this past Sunday. Cleveland's defense took advantage of facing a rookie quarterback for the second week in a row, and Oakland failed to capitalize on some mistakes by QB Brian Hoyer. Let's get to the complete game review.
WEEK 8 - OAKLAND RAIDERS VS. CLEVELAND BROWNS
(COMPLETE GAME REVIEW)
- Awarding the Game Ball: SS Darren McFadden at the end of the third quarter, forcing a fumble that helped secure a win for the Browns. Whitner also knifed in for a 3rd-and-short stop earlier in the game, and those are the type of impact plays I've been waiting to see from Whitner.
- We'll look at it a little later, but the play of the day came when Whitner put his shoulder into the gut of RB
- Goat of the Game: QB Brian Hoyer - For much of the game, Hoyer got the job done, and he was a lot more accurate than he was the previous week against the Jaguars. However, there were at least three mind-numbing plays in terms of decision-making, and you all know that the reason I've remained a big advocate of Hoyer's is the fact that he knows where to go with the football. Fortunately, the Raiders are so bad that they didn't even capitalize on one of Hoyer's mistakes. Had it been just about any other defense, we might have lost this game.
- McFadden Starts With a Big Run: Oakland entered the game with the worst rushing offense in football at 69.3 yards per game. On cue, the first run play of the game by RB Darren McFadden went for 15 yards.
QB Derek Carr tucks the ball into the gut of McFadden, but CB K'Waun Williams is playing the possibility of a quarterback keeper. ILB Karlos Dansby is doing the same. With DE Jabaal Sheard rushing inside, McFadden will find the cutback lane.
There's the lane. McFadden's next carry went for 8 yards. After the Raiders began with 2 carries for 22 yards, their next 20 carries went for just 49 yards. Oakland finished the game with 71 yards, making it the run defense's best game of the season. It's a low bar considering the opponent, but it still counts for something, right?
- Wildcat Leads to McFadden Pass: This past week, I did not write my typical "The Sunday Five" article because I was busy putting the finishing touches on our "DBN Visits the Berea Headquarters" post. When I had drafted bullet points that I would have used for "The Sunday Five," though, one of them was going to mention that Cleveland should look out for either of the Raiders' running backs throwing a pass.
Facing a 1st-and-10 from the 37 yards line, RB Darren McFadden lined up at quarterback. McFadden takes the snap and fakes a handoff before rolling out to his right. OLB Paul Kruger sheds a block and darts in for McFadden. CB Buster Skrine has coverage on QB Derek Carr at the top of the screen.
At first, Skrine is tempted to go in and try to tackle McFadden in case he is just running the ball here. Once Skrine sees Carr taking off from the corner of his eye, he retreats. If Kruger doesn't get in on McFadden as quickly as he does, there's always a chance that McFadden could've gotten off a nice sideline throw to Carr.
Instead, the throw is well to Carr's inside. On first glance, it looks like Skrine interfered with Carr, and the officials even threw the flag (but later picked it up). On replay, you can see that the contact was more so initiated by Carr, who gave a half-hearted effort to come back to the ball.
- The Most Telegraphed Fake FG Ever: I wonder who thought this would be a good idea? Facing a 56-yard field goal attempt, the Raiders send the kicking team out.
K Sebastian Janikowski lines up to kick, and QB Matt Schaub is the holder. The Browns are already playing off the line in anticipation of a possible fake. Janikowski goes in motion, and one of the ends shift out.
When I first saw this, I thought to myself, "surely they are going to pooch punt it." Not so. The target on the play is TE Mychal Rivera, who starts off on the right of the formation and then curls behind the line of scrimmage and up the left seam. The big problem for Oakland? The long snapper snaps the ball at the knees of Schaub, and the ball bounces off of the veteran quarterback for a fumble. CB Buster Skrine darts in while S Jim Leonhard and FS Tashaun Gipson stay in coverage.
Schaub picks up the ball and just has to heave it to where Rivera should be. Gipson has to cover a lot of ground still.
If this had been more of a rocket throw, Rivera is open enough on this play to where it might have been completed. Gipson sees the ball is overthrown though and makes the interception just before Rivera reaches it. If this were a normal fourth down, you'd want Gipson to drop this. When you have a bunch of slow offensive linemen and tight ends as the people you need to beat, though, go ahead and take a chance. Gipson's interception netted 13 more yards than if he had let the ball go.
- Cameron Drops Two Passes: The Browns' first offensive play was a 14-yard catch-and-run by WR Andrew Hawkins. Then facing a 1st-and-10 from the 34 yard line, QB Brian Hoyer is threw a pass to TE Jordan Cameron over the middle. It was a tough catch in tight coverage, but the ball was right on the money and Cameron couldn't haul it in.
After RB Ben Tate's first carry was stuffed for no gain, the Browns then faced a 3rd-and-10. TE Jordan Cameron was lined up in the center of the trips formation to the left. He'll run over the middle, and with the cyan defenders playing man coverage, they will pick each other a bit.
The pick leads to separation, and Hoyer lets it loose.
Hoyer wasn't facing that much pressure, and higher elevation on the throw would have allowed Cameron to have a nice catch-and-run here. Nonetheless, the ball is still in front of Cameron and very catchable, but he drops it. K Billy Cundiff connects on a 52-yard field goal to give the Browns a 3-0 lead.
- Carr Stares Down Target on 3rd Down: I think people are more enamored with QB Derek Carr than I am. In no way am I placing a ceiling on him, but I just think he's getting a little more acclaim right now than he deserves.
Facing a 3rd-and-1, the Raiders had been running the ball fairly well on their first couple of carries, so I figured a run was coming. Oakland opts to pass, but the routes being run create a ton of traffic right at the hashmarks beyond the first down marker.
The routes do more harm than good for the Raiders. Right from the snap, Carr is locked on to WR Andre Holmes, who was the receiver running the opposite direction of everyone else. Although the defender trailing him is beat, ILB Karlos Dansby is sitting in the green circle the entire time. In the magenta circle, DL Ahtyba Rubin is hovering in Carr's throwing lane as well.
Rubin sticks a paw up and bats the pass away. If he hadn't, Dansby was in position to undercut the pass and log an interception. I'll take the tip, and facing a 4th-and-1, Oakland was forced to punt.
- Browns' Running Game Stuffed: The Browns' running game was awful against Oakland, and it can't be pinned on the running backs.
In Jacksonville, the Jaguars' defensive line owned our offensive line. Against the Raiders, the script was flipped a bit, but still not in our favor: Oakland's outside linebackers owned our tight ends, fullback. Oakland doesn't have a lot to look forward to, but OLB Khalil Mack and OLB Sio Moore look to be a very good tandem.
When RB Ben Tate gets the handoff above, TE Jordan Cameron gets the initial (but very brief) chip on Mack. Cameron will then release Mack and try to block on the outside...but I don't know who he was releasing Mack to. Making matters worse, C Nick McDonald watches a man go free on the backside.
Two Raiders converge on Tate, stopping him for a loss one one yard.
- WR Screen w/ Downfield Blocks: Facing a 2nd-and-11, the Browns had their longest offensive play of the game.
WR Taylor Gabriel is in the slot to the bottom of the screen. At the snap, RB Ben Tate (at the bottom of the screen) and TE Jordan Cameron (tight to the right of QB Brian Hoyer) will set up their blocks. Several offensive linemen will leak out downfield, and the Raiders are completely unprepared for this play.
Cleveland clearly has the numbers, now it's all about whether they can hit their blocks. On a swing screen to RB Terrance West last week, we couldn't.
The blocks are magnificent on this play. OG John Greco flattens a guy and keeps on trucking, and C Nick McDonald is reaching the next level as well.
Gabriel has good open field moves, which makes you wonder if it's only a matter of time before he takes over the punt return duties.
Now you can see more teammates contributing with downfield blocks, including OG Joel Bitonio and WR Travis Benjamin. The play goes for 48 yards and gives the Browns the ball 24 yards away from the end zone on their second offensive series of the game, up 3-0. [VIEW VIDEO]
- Browns' Running Game Stuffed (Rinse & Repeat): Cleveland wants to establish the running game. On the first play after the 48-yard pickup, RB Ben Tate will get stuffed again, though.
Tate will be running to the right.
Once again, TE Jordan Cameron is no match for OLB Khalil Mack, and C Nick McDonald gets no push. The defenders converge on Tate for no gain.
- Cutback Fails Due to TE Block: The Browns picked up a first down off of a defensive penalty.
On 1st-and-10 from the 19 yard line, TE Gary Barnidge is going to run across the action to set up a cutback block for RB Ben Tate. TE Jordan Cameron is lined up to the left of LT Joe Thomas, lined up over DE Benson Mayowa.
Mayowa tosses Cameron like a ragdoll...
...and then single-handedly grabs Tate and throws him to the ground. If Cameron had been able to sustain a block, Tate had a really nice cutback lane; one that could have gone the distance. Instead, it's a loss of one yard.
- Greco Takes His Turn: Now facing a 2nd-and-11, it was RG John Greco's turn for a bad play.
Cleveland stays with the running game, handing the ball off to RB Ben Tate to the right.
Greco gets tossed aside, allowing for two Raiders defenders to have a free shot at Tate. OLB Sio Moore drops him for a loss of three yards, leading to a 3rd-and-14 and eventually a 33-yard field goal by K Billy Cundiff to make it a 6-0 game mid-way through the first quarter. [VIEW VIDEO]
- Hoyer Misses Benjamin Deep, Nearly Picked: After the Browns' defense forced a three-and-out, QB Brian Hoyer wanted to go deep to WR Travis Benjamin.
The play is going to start with a fake handoff to RB Terrance West and then a fake an end around to WR Andrew Hawkins. TE Jordan Cameron runs a simple route over the middle, but Benjamin is the target downfield.
Benjamin is running is route at the angle shown in yellow. If QB Brian Hoyer leads him with a throw at that angle, S Charles Woodson isn't going to get there in time. Hoyer's throw is more toward the middle of the field -- in fact, when Benjamin reaches the right hashmarks, you can visibly see him alter his path upfield to adjust to the ball.
Here is the shot from Hoyer's perspective. Hoyer seems to step into this throw a bit off balance.
Woodson would've had an interception had it not been for Benjamin going after the ball and breaking it up. I continue to love how offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is using Benjamin's speed from sideline to sideline, but Hoyer needs a better throw here.
- West's Cutback a Rare Positive Run: On the next play, the Browns finally got a positive run.
You can see the cutback lane forming for RB Terrance West, who will take advantage of it. TE Jim Dray is in position to block OLB Khalil Mack.
West picks up seven yards, but it might have had enough burst to get a first down had Dray been able to even get a chip on Mack. On the next play, a 3rd-and-3, QB Brian Hoyer hit TE Jordan Cameron on a quick out for a gain of one yard; he was stopped short due to a nice open field tackle by S Charles Woodson.
- Whitner Knifes In on 3rd-and-Short: On Oakland's next drive, they got the ball to near midfield.
Facing a 3rd-and-short, the Raiders bring out a heavy run formation. SS Donte Whitner starts off a little deeper...
...but is starting to sprint forward at the snap. Because of the momentum he's built up, No. 69 (OL Khalif Barnes) can't get over to stop Whitner at the snap. QB Derek Carr hands the ball off to the fullback, but RB Maurice Jones-Drew was an option on the pitch. OLB Jabaal Sheard would've been ready had the ball been pitched to Jones-Drew.
Whitner dives in and stops the fullback for no gain. Down 6-0 near the beginning of the second quarter, the Raiders opt to punt instead of going for it. [VIEW VIDEO]
- Kiero's Turn to Get Blown Up: On the Browns' next offensive drive, they moved the ball to their own 38 yard line and were facing a 2nd-and-4.
OLB Sio Moore is going to shoot through the gap, and new Browns FB Kiero Small will fill the gap...
...and he doesn't win the battle. Moore gets right past RB Terrance West...
...and hits him for a loss of one yard while Small looks on. [VIEW VIDEO]
- Quick Passing Game: The drive continued after a 7-yard completion to WR Andrew Hawkins.
On the very next play, now facing a 1st-and-10, QB Brian Hoyer is going to hit Hawkins for a gain of 17 yards. Throughout the game, the Browns opted not to go with the bootleg rollouts off of playaction they have been doing all season. Instead, Hoyer would snap his head around and look for his first read.
Hoyer's first read is Hawkins, and he's open. Imagine when WR Josh Gordon gets back for these!
- Cameron Decked After Great Catch: Facing a 2nd-and-10 from the 39 yard line, QB Brian Hoyer connects with TE Jordan Cameron for a big (but costly) play over the middle.
It's not the most creative looking play design, but Cameron is going to get behind the linebackers and in between the safeties.
Some people have said that Hoyer let Cameron hang out to dry, but he throws it right to green spot.
Cameron makes an excellent catch, but his hang time while his body is going sideways ends up being pretty ridiculous.
It leads to a nasty collision, and one that will likely cost Cameron his next two games. Long-term, you have to be concerned about a player who has now suffered three concussions in a little over two years. The 21-yard gain, plus the 15-yard penalty, set up a 1st-and-goal from the 9 yard line for Cleveland. The Browns settled for a 23-yard field goal to go up 9-0 with under 6 minutes to go in the second quarter.
- Gleeful Catch by Rivera: If you watched the game personally, you probably would've been sick of me bringing up how the brother of a character from Glee was making catches all over the field against us.
Not known as a prolific receiver, TE Mychal Rivera came up with a heck of a catch here for 22 yards to put the Raiders in field goal range. Rivera lines up to the left of QB Derek Carr with OLB Barkevious Mingo over him.
Mingo gives Rivera a chip, but doesn't seem to think he'll be able to run much of a route down the field. The inside linebacker behind Mingo stays shallow the whole play.
The throw has to be outside to avoid a hit from the safety and it can't be underthrown so Mingo can make a play on it. To see Rivera use one hand to bring this ball in was pretty surprising.
- Kruger Gets to Carr: On Oakland's next play, OLB Paul Kruger got his first of three sacks on the afternoon.
Kruger lines up wide and is simply going to race around the right tackle.
Kruger gets to Carr just before he tries to pass, dropping him for a loss of two yards. [VIEW VIDEO]
- Gilbert Showing More Awareness: On 3rd-and-5 from the 27 yard line, QB Derek Carr liked the matchup of CB Justin Gilbert against WR James Jones.
With Cleveland crowding the line of scrimmage, Carr knows he has a one-on-one matchup with Gilbert and Jones.
Jones streaks up the sideline and Gilbert shadows him.
Knowing he has help over the middle, Gilbert plays the sideline. He makes sure he doesn't contact Jones' body here...
...and then breaks up the pass. Oakland does not pick up another first down, but they do get a 46-yard field goal from K Sebastian Janikowski to cut the Browns' lead to 9-3.
- Hoyer's Near Pick Six Before Half: With under two minutes to play, the Browns had a false start that made it 1st-and-15.
TE Gary Barnidge lines up at the bottom of the screen to run a crossing route. CB Carlos Rogers, circled in green, is going to stay exactly where he's at. A linebacker also runs toward the area of Barnidge (cyan arrow). OLB Sio Moore is also going to get a free rush on QB Brian Hoyer.
Hoyer looks to his right at first and spots Moore coming free. He then looks left and fires toward Barnidge.
Rogers has a step on the play, and when I'm seeing this live, a pick six is flashing before my eyes. Rogers has the ball go through him for an incompletion, though. The Browns go three-and-out, punt, and let Oakland get in range for another field goal. Cleveland enters the half up 9-6.
- Tate Stopped on Safety Blitz: The Browns got the ball to begin the second half.
On their first play, the handoff goes to RB Ben Tate. Once again, Oakland gets a free rusher in -- this time S Charles Woodson -- to stop Tate for no gain. It figures: Kyle Shanahan has taken deep shots at the beginning of the second half several times this season. If that had been the call here, WR Travis Benjamin would've had a one-on-one opportunity downfield.
- Mack Gets Free Release on 3rd Down: After both teams went three-and-out, the Browns had the ball again, now facing a 3rd-and-1.
This is a designed rolling pocket, with pretty much the only receiver being WR Andrew Hawkins. The blue line is where Cleveland needs to get to for a first down. Hawkins beats his man with ease.
The problem is that RT Mitchell Schwartz ignores OLB Khalil Mack.
Mack gets a free release right in the area where QB Brian Hoyer is rolling.
Hoyer still gets off a throw while he's being drilled by Mack, but it's before Hawkins can get out of his break. The Browns have to punt.
- Raiders Return the Favor for Kruger: After an offensive holding penalty, Oakland faced a 1st-and-20, and then apparently wanted to return the favor of a free rush at the quarterback to OLB Paul Krguer.
First off, I don't know what the hell the Raiders were trying to do on this play. They have three receivers going out for a route, but two of their receivers set up for blocks, yet there is no option for a screen pass.
QB Derek Carr is looking left the whole time, and no one even pays attention to OLB Paul Kruger. I'd love to ask Kruger what is going through his mind here.
Kruger hits Carr, and the empty hand leads to a fumble. An Oakland lineman falls on top of it, but it makes it 2nd-and-23 from the 9 yard line. The Raiders eventually punt.
- Sloppy Drive for Browns: Cleveland's next two minutes on special teams and offense were a disaster. WR Travis Benjamin fumbled a punt while trying to return it. (Aside: a bonus game ball goes to OLB Eric Martin, who somehow clawed for the recovery). The screwup by Benjamin cost the Browns 10+ yards in field position.
On the first offensive play, QB Brian Hoyer and WR Miles Austin banged into each other in the backfield. Hoyer then dumped the ball to Austin for 22 yards. Had the drive then gone well, maybe you can laugh about it. On the next play, RB Terrance West was hit for a loss of one yard.
Facing a 2nd-and-11 from midfield, C Nick McDonald snaps the ball over the head of Hoyer. Hoyer reaches up and tips the ball with one hand.
Hoyer then waits for the ball to come down before firing a quick incomplete pass to WR Travis Benjamin. Thankfully, the pass protection was good enough on the play to allow Hoyer to gather the ball and avoid a fumble. McDonald was called for a false start on the next play. Cleveland had to punt after not converting a 3rd-and-16.
- Reece Gets Wide Open for Carr: The Raiders' next drive began at the 9 yard line, but it would end up being their best-looking drive of the game to this point.
On 2nd-and-9, QB Derek Carr found FB Marcel Reece wide open for a gain of 19 yards. How'd he get so open? In the screenshot above, you can see OLB Jabaal Sheard initially in coverage on Reece. Carr is going to roll to his left.
As Carr rolls left, Sheard starts paying attention to the backfield, probably thinking there is no way Carr will come back to Reece.
Carr then steps to the right and quickly lets loose.
This was Carr's most impressive play of the game in my opinion. Being a fullback, Reece catches the ball and steps out of bounds instead of trying to gain more yards upfield.
- Whitner Saves the Day: Facing a 2nd-and-6 from the 29 yard line, Oakland was already in field goal range with 0:35 left in the third quarter. Oakland had the momentum, in position to either tie the game or go ahead.
With OLB Paul Kruger paying attention to QB Derek Carr, RB Darren McFadden uses the cutback lane. At a minimum, he's got the first down.
Only SS Donte Whitner stands in his path, with CB Joe Haden on the outside.
Whitner sticks his shoulder into the gut of McFadden...
...and the ball pops out...
...right into the arms of CB Joe Haden! I'm sure a ton of Browns fans breathed a collective sigh of relief with this play, which allowed Cleveland to re-take the lead in the battle for field position. [VIEW VIDEO]
- Hawkins Gets Open in Isolation: Out of all of the plays in this game, this was the one I was most looking forward to seeing on the All-22. How did WR Andrew Hawkins gets so open?
This was the final play of the third quarter, and it went for 32 yards. To my surprise, Hawkins is the only receiver running a route! He's going to beat the secondary all by himself.
The defense must have really been expecting run, and QB Brian Hoyer literally has all day to throw. WR Miles Austin does start to go into a route very late, but notice that both defenders near Hawkins are going one way...
...which allows Hawkins and Hoyer to connect the other way, as if it was scripted all along (heck, it probably was). Have you ever seen a team be able to get these type of plays so wide open as often as Cleveland does?
- Hoyer Connects Under Pressure: On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Browns finally ran a bootleg off of playaction with QB Brian Hoyer.
TE Gary Barnidge fakes a block on the right and then goes toward the corner of the end zone. TE Jim Dray starts on the left, but comes back toward the right. OLB Khalil Mack gets the free release on Hoyer.
Hoyer knows he's going to take a hit, but he lofts the ball toward Dray...
...and it is right on target. Dray's catch-and-run goes for 16 yards, setting up 1st-and-goal from the 5 yard line.
- TD Drought Ends: The Browns went seven quarters without a touchdown, but at last, the drought ended!
Facing a 2nd-and-goal from the 4 yard line, QB Brian Hoyer is going to have a rolling pocket to his left. WR Miles Austin sets a pick from the center of the trips left formation, which springs WR Andrew Hawkins wide open. RB Ben Tate is available as extra protection in case Hoyer needs it.
Unlike the last rolling pocket, Hoyer is well protected...
...and Hawkins is wide open for his first touchdown as a member of the Browns. Cleveland took a 16-6 lead with 14:21 left in the game. That type of lead seemed mammoth, given how things were going. [VIEW VIDEO]
- Worst QB Decision of the Season: After picking up one first down, the Raiders were forced to punt. With a 16-6 lead, QB Brian Hoyer just needed to avoid turning the ball over.
Instead, facing a 2nd-and-14 in his own territory, Hoyer made his worst quarterbacking decision of the season. TE Jim Dray is going to run a five-yard route over the middle.
Three defenders are around Dray. Would in the world could possess Hoyer to think Dray was open here?
The ball goes right into the hands of OLB Sio Moore. Because Oakland is Oakland...
...the ball bounces up into the air for Dray, who rumbles downfield for 11 yards. Just like we planned it.
- Haden Steps Up Late: The Raiders were starting to run out of time, so it was time for QB Derek Carr to let it loose, even if that meant going after CB Joe Haden. Big mistake.
We've seen Haden beat before on some stop-and-gos, but WR Kenbrell Thompkins does a straight go route down the right sideline here. Haden stays with him and then dives to slap the ball away at the last second. [VIEW VIDEO]
Two plays later, Carr goes after Haden again, and he breaks up the slant to WR James Jones. I was a bit surprised the Raiders punted here with under seven minutes to play, but that's on them. [VIEW VIDEO]
- More Penetration from Raiders' D: The Browns moved the chains once to drain some clock. Now, they faced a 1st-and-10 from the 40 yard line.
QB Brian Hoyer pitches the ball out to RB Ben Tate.
OLB Khalil Mack blows up the play again, pushing TE Jim Dray back to where Tate received the pitch. Tate cuts back in just to get back to the line of scrimmage.
- Final Browns TD: The Browns drained the clock down to under four minutes to play before they punted, and then QB Derek Carr fumbled inside his own ten yard line with OLB Barkevious Mingo reocvering. On 1st-and-goal from the 9 yard line, RB Ben Tate gained four yards.
With both mascots behind the end zone, the Browns are going to get their biggest hole of the game on a cutback run. WR Taylor Gabriel and TE Jim Dray both seal the right edge.
There is the progression of the hole.
Both masocts signal touchdown. The Browns took a 23-6 lead. [VIEW VIDEO]
On Oakland's final drive, OLB Paul Kruger got his third sack of the game, but QB Derek Carr found WR Andre Holmes for a 10-yard touchdown with 0:07 left in the game, leading to the final score of 23-13.
- Special Teams Tackles: There were five special teams tackles, with one each from WR Marlon Moore, ILB Craig Robertson, and CB K'Waun Williams. There were four assists, with one each from ILB Craig Robertson, ILB Tank Carder, CB Johnson Bademosi, and LS Christian Yount.
- Snap Counts on Offense & Defense: If you missed them, here are the links to our snap count trackers for offense (link) and defense (link). On offense, S Donte Whitner played a snap in the victory formation. On defense, S Jim Leonhard played nearly half the game in a nickel role.
- Brownies: The Browns were a putrid 2-of-12 (17%) against the worst 3rd down defense in the NFL. ... Oakland converted on 6-of-19 (32%) of their 3rd downs. ... The Raiders won the time of possession battle 34:52 to 25:08. ... The Browns' defense was on the field for 82 plays. ... The decision by head coach Mike Pettine to kick the field goal to go up 9-0 paid off this week. ... The "win" in "winning ugly" is key, but the run blocking still needs to be patched up for Cleveland to sustain success.
Up next, the Browns take on theat home. Keep it tuned to Dawgs By Nature for our coverage leading up to the game!