Pass Offense: Derek Carr turned in another strong performance, notching 20 completions in 32 attempts (62.5%) for 314 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Amari Cooper had an impressive first half, but a lackluster second half, with a midfield fumble in the fourth quarter that gave the Browns an opportunity to close the sizable lead the Raiders had built up. Still, it’s a small blemish on an otherwise good day for Cooper, who finished with eight catches for 134 yards and no touchdowns. Seth Roberts was second in receiving, with 3 receptions for 36 yards and one touchdown. Marcel Reece had a 55-yard reception. Andre Holmes had a single 3-yard catch for a touchdown.
Rush Offense: It took a while for the running game to get going, but once it did, it helped the Raiders chew up the clock and move the ball downfield. Latavius Murray had a career day with 26 carries for 139 yards, including a 54-yard rumble, and one touchdown. Taiwan Jones had 2 carries for 16 yards, and Marcel Reece had one carry for one yard. The more balanced offensive approach made a difference in the Browns defense looking winded late in the game.
Pass Defense: On the one hand, after not having any sacks the first two weeks, the Raiders had five sacks (among four players) of Josh McCown, including two for Khalil Mack, who is emerging as a force to be reckoned with. On the other hand, McCown finished up 28-49-341-2-1, and tight end coverage continues to be an issue, as Browns TE Gary Barnidge led the team with 6 receptions for 105 yards and an easy touchdown. DJ Hayden continues to struggle with coverage and tackling, letting Travis Benjamin twist him around for an end-zone lunge late in the game. It’s a good thing the offense is clicking, because the cornerbacks are going to let opponents hang around and come back. Charles Woodson’s game-ending interception was a relief, as the Browns’ final drive, which started at their own 1-yard line, had marched up the field at will up that point.
Rush Defense: As Cleveland found themselves in an early hole, they only ran 14 times total between Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, for just 39 yards. Still, that 2.8 YPC average is significant, and shows that DT Dan Williams in particular has added to the defensive line’s run-stopping ability.
Special Teams: Sebastian Janikowski continues his streak, going 2/2 on field goals and 3/3 on extra points. Marquette King had a bit of an off day (for him), with 4 punts for a 37.0 average. King’s final punt, thanks to an acrobatic play by Taiwan Jones and a break from the refs (the replay showed Jones’ foot hitting the end zone just as the ball rolled off his fingers), was critical in pinning the Browns at their own 1-yard line to start their final drive. Amari Cooper showed that punt returning may not be his strong suit, gaining 9 yards on one and losing the same number on his other return.
Coaching: Head coach Jack Del Rio and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave crafted another strong, aggressive game plan for today’s matchup, mixing passing and running plays almost equally (32-30 pass-run ratio). Defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. makes the most of what he has with the roster talent, using the front seven creatively at times to force Josh McCown to scramble or throw off his back foot. On the Raiders’ final offensive possession, after the midfield recovery of Travis Benjamin’s muffed punt return, the play calls were somewhat perplexing, in that the Raiders seemed content to run down the clock with running plays, but then tried a pass play on third down, instead of running down the clock to the two-minute warning, and possibly giving Sebastian Janikowski a better chance at a field goal to put the Browns away. These are the sorts of things that will be a problem against better teams down the schedule, such as the Packers and Chiefs. But the key to their two victories so far have been in building early leads and hanging on enough to win in the end. If they can pull it off against Denver in a couple of weeks, the team may be turning a corner after all.