Photo credit: @theorganicfrost
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
OAKLAND, Calif — The Raiders can finally breathe a little bit after picking up win No. 1, defeating the visiting Cleveland Browns 45-42 in overtime in front of an announced crowd of 53,387 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Sunday.
It was a roller-coaster fourth quarter for the Silver and Black, who held a six-point lead with 10 minutes to go, but managed to let it slip away.
Cleveland scored two unanswered touchdowns, but the Raiders (1-3) managed to tie the game with 30 seconds remaining and force overtime where they won the game behind rookie kicker Matt McCrane’s 29-yard field goal.
McCrane missed a 50-yard field goal attempt on the Raiders’ first possession of overtime, but Oakland’s defense forced the Browns to punt and quarterback Derek Carr drove the Raiders into position to kick the eventual game-winning field goal.
Here are my three takeaways from the Raiders’ win over the Browns:
Derek Carr needs to tame the turnovers
Sure, Carr completed 35-of-58 passes for 437 yards and four touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions. In the four games he’s played this season, Carr has thrown two or more interceptions in three of them.
No other quarterback in the league has more interceptions than Carr, who leads the NFL with seven interceptions. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Carr has thrown four of those interceptions on first down.
I get it, Carr is going to take chances to make the big-play, but not every throw needs to be risky. The pair of interceptions that Carr threw today put the Raiders in tough spots.
With Oakland trailing 17-14 and looking for points late in the first-half, Carr tried to hit tight end Jared Cook that would’ve set Oakland up in field goal range, but the ball bounced of Cook’s hands and landed in Browns cornerback E.J. Gaines’s hands that thwarted any scoring chances for the Silver and Black.
Carr’s second interception came on Oakland’s first possession in the third quarter. Oakland was driving before Carr lofted a pass down the left sideline into double-coverage that was intended for wide receiver Martavis Bryant that would be picked off by cornerback Damarious Randall. Randall would return the interception 50 yards to set up Cleveland for an easy score.
Three plays later, Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield found wide receiver Jarvis Landry for a two-yard score that gave Cleveland a 14-point lead.
Marshawn Lynch should be averaging 20 carries a game
With the NFL turning into a passing league with teams opting for multiple wide receiver formations, it was good to see a running back get 20 carries in a football game.
In the midst of Carr throwing the football 58 times, running back Marshawn Lynch rushed for 130 yards on 20 carries, his most productive game in four years. Lynch’s 52-yard blast down the Browns’ sideline late in the third quarter was vintage ‘Beast Mode’ as he alluded a bevy of Cleveland defenders before being brought down.
The run would setup a 29-yard field goal by Matt McCrane that cut Cleveland’s lead 28-24.
With each game, Lynch’s carries and workload has increased:
- 11 carries for 41 yards and one touchdown in 33-13 loss to the Los Angeles Rams at home in Week 1.
- 18 carries for 65 yards and one touchdown in 20-19 loss to the Broncos in Denver in Week 2.
- 19 carries for 64 yards and one touchdown in 28-20 loss to the Dolphins in Miami in Week 3.
- 20 carries for 130 yards in 45-42 win over the Cleveland Browns in Week 4.
The Raiders need to give the ball to Lynch more as life for Carr will become that much easier. Simply put, feed the beast.
Oakland’s defense deserves a gold star for its efforts
The Raiders have been racked over the hot coals for the trading of premiere pass rusher in defensive end Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears a week before the start of the regular season, and rightfully so, but the effort and energy the unit played with today has to be recognized.
In the first three games, Oakland’s defense forced just one turnover before recording three on Sunday which kept the Raiders close throughout the game.
Second-year cornerback Gareon Conley delivered the game’s first score, by intercepting a Baker Mayfield pass that bounced off the hands of wide receiver Antonio Callaway and into Conley’s who returned the pass 36 yards for the touchdown.
Oakland forced a pair of second-half fumbles that set up the Raiders for scoring opportunities that kept the game tight. The Raiders did yield 487 yards of total offense to the Browns, including two long touchdowns, but did manage to force four turnovers (two force fumbles and two interceptions) off Mayfield.
Mayfield finished 21-of-41 for 295 yards and two touchdowns in his first-career start.
Linebacker Bruce Irvin and rookie defensive tackle Maurice Hurst each recorded a sack for Oakland.
Up next for Oakland: A trip to Los Angeles to take on AFC West rival the Chargers in Week 5, before flying over to London for a Week 6 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.