ReFo: Browns @ Raiders, Week 13
So it was not nearly as dramatic as John Elway’s last minute comebacks, but the 14-play, 94-yard drive that culminated in a Trent Richardson touchdown put the Browns up 20-10 with 3:27 left in the game. It was a necessary drive for the young Browns team that has been in almost every game they’ve played, but has only a 4-8 record to show for their efforts. With four games to play, these are the moments they will work to build on throughout the offseason and into next year.
For Oakland, they continue to creep toward the top of the draft, and they may just earn the No. 1 overall pick by the time April rolls around. Their fifth straight loss puts them at 3-9 on the season and like Cleveland, it’s about finding the players who will be with the organization as it attempts to move forward. This game was much more competitive than their recent showings, but they made key mistakes down the stretch that were too much to overcome.
Let’s take a look at this week’s key performances.
Cleveland – Three Performances
Mixed Reviews for Weeden
On the surface, 25 of 36 for 364 yards looks great, but quarterback Brandon Weeden’s two interceptions stick out among the gaudy stats. Everyone understands the idea that ‘not all interceptions are created equal’, but Sunday’s gaffes were clearly on Weeden. The first came with 7:23 to go in the first quarter as he completely air mailed tight end Ben Watson on a seam route. The pass landed right in the hands of free safety Matt Giordano and halted the Browns’ drive deep in Oakland territory. The second interception also came on the Raiders’ side of the field, this time at the end of the first half. Weeden underthrew the go route to wide receiver Josh Gordon allowing cornerback Phillip Adams to make the play on the ball.
Other than the two big misses, it was a solid, yet unspectacular day for Weeden (-1.1) who took advantage of some Oakland coverage breakdowns and allowed his receivers to pick up 204 of their 364 yards after the catch. Perhaps most impressive was his ability to continue to take shots in the pocket as he got knocked down 12 times. His touchdown pass to Gordon was a big time throw as he hit him in stride on the go route for a 64-yard score.
Coming into the season, defensive end Jabaal Sheard (-3.7) looked like one of the promising young pass rushers in the league, but things have not gone as planned here in 2012. He managed only one hurry on his 50 pass rushes Sunday, and he’s now picked up a mere five pressures in his past 149 attempts over the last three games. On the other side, Frostee Rucker got the start, but it’s Juqua Parker (+2.9) who continues to establish himself as the Browns’ top pass rusher. He picked up five hurries and a sack on only 37 pass rushes, with most of his work coming against one of the better left tackles in the league in Jared Veldheer. Parker did a nice job of keeping Veldheer off balance by beating him to both the inside and outside shoulders, while also mixing in the bull rush.
Big Day for Brown
The Raiders largely avoided cornerback Joe Haden, instead attacking CB Sheldon Brown (+3.4) to the tune of 13 targets. He made them pay by allowing only five receptions for 52 yards, while defending three passes and adding an interception. The interception came early in the fourth quarter with Cleveland up three and the Raiders looking to either tie or take the lead. Brown made a nice play on Carson Palmers’ go route to Juron Criner. With little safety help, Brown played it perfectly with nice body position before hauling in the errant pass for the turnover. It may have been the biggest play of the afternoon as it sparked the Browns’ 94-yard drive that effectively ended the game.
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
Bryant Gets to the QB, but Lack of Discipline Proves Costly
With defensive tackle Richard Seymour out, DT Desmond Bryant (+0.7) has gotten an extended opportunity in recent weeks. He played a season high 60 snaps on Sunday and he flashed his pass rushing ability for the third straight game. On his 30 rushes, Bryant graded at +2.5 as a pass rusher as he hit Weeden three times, while also adding a hurry. He also knifed into the backfield to block a field goal late in the fourth quarter.
Despite living in the Cleveland backfield for much of the afternoon, Bryant’s two neutral zone infractions marred his day, particularly the second one which gave Cleveland a first down in their game clinching drive. It was 3rd-and-1 at the Oakland 10-yard line and the Raiders needed a stop to force a field goal to keep the game within one score. Bryant jumped offsides and Richardson ran it in two plays later.
Keeping an Eye on Burris
Raiders fans have been paying close attention to Miles Burris (-0.7) as he’s garnered the most snaps of the limited rookie class. The only Raider to play all 71 snaps on Sunday, it was another mixed review for Burris. He did a nice job of attacking downhill in the running game as he blew up fullback Alex Smith on a number of occasions. He found his way to the quarterback as well, picking up two hits and a hurry on his 10 pass rushes. Burris’ problems came in the passing game as he once again struggled as a tackler with three misses on the day. Whether it was his inability to track down Watson in pursuit, or simply whiffing on Jordan Cameron in the open field, Burris’s tackling woes continued as he now has 14 on the season.
Even without the weekly late-game, garbage-time touchdown, Palmer (+3.1) played a strong game. Of his 50 ‘aimed’ passes, he completed 34 to go along with a batted pass and three drops, putting his accuracy percentage at 76% for the game. His 64-yard touchdown pass to Rod Streater was a thing of beauty as he manipulated safety Tashaun Gipson with a pump fake before dropping a perfect pass into Streater’s arms. Even some of his incompletions were well-thrown in places where his receivers could make plays on the ball
Unfortunately for Palmer, his worst throw became a backbreaker as the underthrown interception to Brown halted any chance of an Oakland comeback. Overall it was a nice day, but the turnover proved costly.
– WR Gordon was targeted seven times and came away with six receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown
– Browns LT Joe Thomas surrendered one QB hit on his 38 pass rushes
– Oakland WR Denarius Moore caught only two of the eight passes thrown his way, including two drops.
PFF Game Ball
With a game-changing interception while getting his hands on three other passes, Sheldon Brown earns the game ball.