Not much to say about this one. The same Raider problems that have plagued them all year reared their ugly head in a flat, listless 20-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns. Now 3-9, the Raiders have lost five straight games and prospects don't look good as the surging Denver Broncos come into the Coliseum on Thursday night.
There were positives, notably Brandon Myers and Rod Streater, who combined to catch 17 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown. Carson Palmer completed 34-of-54 passes for 351 yards and two touchdowns, but his most critical throw resulted in a killer interception by Sheldon Brown when the Raiders were driving down the field for the lead.
The running game was also solid as Marcel Reece and Jeremy Stewart combined to rush 16 times for 82 yards. I am perplexed as to why the Raiders have not run the ball when there has been success in the last few weeks on the ground. When the run game struggled, it was run to excess. Now the run gets abandoned even when there seems to be success.
Defensively, the Raiders allowed 475 yards to a Cleveland offense that averaged just over 300 yards and ranked 29th in the NFL coming in. The run defense was better (30 carries for 122 yards for Cleveland), but when it mattered, they could not stop Trent Richardson, who clinched the game with a three-yard touchdown run.
So here's the recap of the five keys I had for the Raiders winning.
Play with Passion. Defensively, there was a little bit more emotion. But not much. And on offense, the skill players seemed awfully flat, with the exception of Myers and Streater. Denarius Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey both dropped passes and Palmer grew increasingly frustrated as the game went along.
Choose an Identity on Offense and Be That Identity. Looks like the identity is to throw the ball. A lot. In total, there were 54 passes and just 17 runs. The worst part was, the Raiders ran the ball well. Those weren't cosmetic numbers! Reece and Stewart made solid gains, but Greg Knapp didn't stick with the run game when it works. I'm baffled.
Vary the Defense. Sadly, it didn't happen. No A-gap blitzing, no Burris rush, nothing but the same largely vanilla package we have seen in 2012. It is a shame to see such a simple defense from a coach that is supposed to be defensive in nature. Variety is the spice of life, but it looks like the Raiders' rack continues to remain bare.
Do Not Turn the Ball over. Going in, I told you that when the Browns give up more turnovers, they lose. Evidently, that didn't apply to the Raiders. Oakland forced two turnovers and only gave up one, but the one they gave up was a killer as Sheldon Brown's interception with less than 10 minutes to go killed a drive that put the Raiders in a position to at least tie the game at 13.
Treat Your Fans to Some Home Cookin'. Props to the Raider fans who braved a midday downpour to watch this game. They deserved better. The Raiders were flattered than year-old soda and didn't put anything together until it was too late. There might be an awful lot of fans disguised as empty seats Thursday night. Not good for a national television appearance.
So, the Raiders are 3-9 and clinch their 10th straight non-winning season, by far the longest streak in franchise history. They will now face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos Thursday. Watch early, because it might not be pretty later on.