By Ryan Leong
Taking on a 3-8 Cleveland Browns team with 17 rookies, this was a game the Oakland Raiders should have won. Despite their lack of overall talent, there is still enough of it for the Raiders to have a better record than 3-8. But instead, the Raiders once again fell flat, making too many mistakes and not recovering from a fourth quarter Carson Palmer interception as the team lost its fifth straight game. At 3-9, Oakland is ensured of its first losing season since 2007, when Lane Kiffin coached the Silver and Black to a 4-12 record. Final score: Cleveland Browns 20, Oakland Raiders 17
Rookie head coach Dennis Allen continues to make questionable decisions. His lack of experience is glaring, especially when it comes to the closing minutes. Down 20-10 with three minutes left, Carson Palmer was able to drive the team down the field but wasted all the time on the clock in doing so. Brandon Myers scored on a 17-yard pass from Palmer with one second left, but the team needed two scores regardless. It’s more important to get the field goal and then try to recover the onside kick to force a tie with a two-point conversion. This was Allen’s explanation:
“We thought about it but we were down there and I was trying to get seven points there. Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time on the clock to be able to execute an on-side kick and still have an opportunity.”
This team is just inept. However, this roster last year was 8-8. When your personnel is more or less the same and you’re getting worse results, a lot of the blame is on the coaches. Grade F
The Raiders had 429 yards of offense and Palmer passed for 351 yards, yet they managed to score only 17 points. That’s pathetic. There was a nice 64-yard TD catch by rookie Rod Streater, but a few playmakers just aren’t enough to get the job done. Credit goes to tight end Brandon Myers for a career-high 130 receiving yards on 14 catches and a touchdown, but that only means something in the world of fantasy football and for Myers’ personal stats. It doesn’t equate to wins, and Palmer is 0-6 when passing for 300 or more yards. Grade C
The good news: the Raiders streak of allowing 30 or more points ended at four. The defense had allowed a franchise worst 169 points over the previous four games. But the bad news: the ‘D’ allowed 475 yards of total offense. Browns rookie QB Brandon Weeden passed for a career-high 364 yards and rookie WR Josh Gordon had 116 yards on six catches. Same old Raiders. Grade D
The Raiders are consistently good here. With the offense struggling on its first four drives, that meant four punts by Shane Lechler. Sebastian Janikowski is arguably the best place kicker in the NFL. He made another field goal of 50-yards. “Seabass ” has made 24-of-26 field goals this season and has 40 career field goals from 50 yards or more, most in the NFL since 2000. It was also his 200th game with the Silver and Black. Desmond Bryant also blocked a Phil Dawson field goal attempt, ending Dawson’s consecutive field goal streak at 29. Grade B
It’s going to be nearly impossible for the Raiders to beat the rival Denver Broncos who are coming to Oakland in less than four days for the nationally televised Thursday Night Football game on NFL Network. Peyton Manning is the odds-on favorite to win the Comeback Player of the Year award after guiding Denver to this year’s AFC West division title.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.