Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns: Oakland Grades, Notes and Quotes
The Raiders hadn’t won consecutive games since 2012. They hadn’t won on the road since 2013. Finally, they hadn’t held a winning record since their Week 16 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in 2011. All those streaks have been erased, and it’s starting to look like a new chapter for the Jack Del Rio regime.
Oakland picked up right where it left off in Week 2, but left enough space for the Browns to close the gap in another late-game nail-biter.
A leaky secondary and wide receiver Amari Cooper's fumble kept the Browns' crowd and their offense in the thick of things until an interception from safety Charles Woodson sealed the game.
For the most part, Oakland’s high-powered offense and its defensive line put the team in position to win the game. Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s impeccable play-calling and several sacks from the defense kept the Raiders in the driver’s seat.
What’s the reaction from the players? Who were the standout performers, and what grades should they receive for their efforts?
Position Grades for Raiders
Oakland’s passing offense continued to click and the Browns’ poor run defense became susceptible to the rushing attack. Cleveland gave up 154 yards on the ground to go along with quarterback Derek Carr’s 314 passing yards.
The Raiders continue to completely ignore tight ends on both sides of the ball. Carr only completed one pass to a tight end (Lee Smith) for eight yards. Tight end Mychal Rivera also committed two penalties.
The offensive line set the edge for running back Latavius Murray to break long-distance runs on the outside and protected Carr to perfection, not giving up any sacks.
Oakland’s linebackers swarmed the football and played with more energy. Linebackers Malcolm Smith, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Neiron Ball each recorded a sack.
The defensive line stifled Cleveland’s running back duo, holding the team to 39 total rushing yards. Defensive end Khalil Mack found a breakthrough in the Browns offensive line and sacked quarterback Josh McCown twice.
The Raiders secondary continues to hurt the defense. The pressure from the front seven helped the secondary escape against a group of C-plus wide receivers.
McCown gashed the Raiders secondary for deep passes to wide receiver Brian Hartline. The safety help for tight coverage arrived late on multiple occasions. Woodson’s game-ending interception sprays a good fragrance on a stinky secondary.
Both coordinators put together solid game plans. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.’s result looks less impressive, but his front seven made plays to aid the secondary. The linebacker corps and the defensive line served as the strength of the defense.
Of course, Musgrave’s offense put the Raiders at an advantage with a lead throughout the game.
Raiders Defense Records 5 Sacks
Norton’s defense found a breakthrough and registered five sacks after providing zero sacks in the first two weeks.
Mack flashed an ability to take down the quarterback that resembled his effort in Week 3 of the preseason against the Arizona Cardinals, per Pro Football Focus. He accounted for two of the Raiders' five sacks against the Browns' solid offensive line.
Oakland’s linebackers accounted for the remaining three sacks, which showed that Norton might have flipped the switch for a hungry defense capable of gobbling up quarterbacks.
The Raiders will need similar results from the front seven to keep the secondary out of trouble.
Latavius Murray Gains 139 Rushing Yards
Murray registered his second career 100-plus-yard game on the ground. He reached a career high of 139 rushing yards after a slow start.
Initially, the Raiders made an attempt to ram the ball in between the guards and defenders met Murray with strong resistance.
As the game progressed, Murray bounced his routes outside and found room to gain yardage in bulk.
Murray’s longest run extended 54 yards down the field. His performance became essential in ball control down the stretch to avoid a potential shootout against McCown, who threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns.
Amari Cooper Records Another 100-Yard Game
Aside from an ugly fumble late in the game, Cooper put together another solid performance. He recorded consecutive 100-yard performances with 134 receiving yards against the Browns' stingy secondary.
Two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden struggled to cover Cooper all over the field.
Carr went to Cooper throughout the game with pinpoint throws that allowed his receiver to rack up significant yardage after his receptions. Cooper’s longest reception stretched 40 yards down the field.
The former Alabama wideout didn’t garner a lot of press for his straight-line speed, but defenders must respect his game-play speed once he establishes possession.
Poor Tight End Coverage Continues
Browns tight end Gary Barnidge caught 13 passes for 156 receiving yards in 2014. He hasn’t scored a touchdown since 2013. Nonetheless, the Raiders surrendered six catches for 105 receiving yards and a touchdown to Barnidge on Sunday.
Barnidge struck gold in the middle of the field and in the seam of the Raiders secondary. Tight ends have accumulated 297 receiving yards and five touchdowns against the Raiders in the first three weeks of the season.
Norton must address this glaring issue with Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett next on the schedule.
Khalil Mack: Charles Woodson with the Save
According to San Francisco Chronicle writer Vic Tafur, Mack offered praise to Woodson for a game-changing play in a critical moment.
“C-Wood put on the cape and saved us,” said Mack in reference to the late interception to seal the game.
McCown and the Browns offense cut through the Raiders' pass coverage with little resistance on their final drive. The Browns’ passing attack racked up chunks of yardage in effort to tie the game at 27 until Woodson recorded the only interception of the game.
Woodson struggled with poor tackling in particular sequences, but the Raiders were thankful for his leaping grab for an interception on the far right side of the field.
The 18-year veteran with a dislocated shoulder still serves as the best coverage safety on the roster at this point.
Del Rio: We Traveled Like Professional Football Players
Behind the scenes cameras caught the Raiders in a celebratory mood after their Week 3 win, provided by the team’s official website.
You can see how much this road win meant to the players and coaches. Del Rio broke down the Raiders' successful approach while addressing the team.
“We traveled like professional football players, that had a mission in mind, and we’re going to do the same thing next week,” said Del Rio.
Del Rio took the business approach in expressing how his team prepared and will continue to prepare for challenges on the road.
The Raiders’ 11-game road losing streak fades into the past as this year’s team peers into a bright future.
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Week 3 statistics and play-by-play analysis provided by NFL.com.