Three takeaways from the Raiders’ 16-14 win over the Browns on Monday in Cleveland:
1. Badly needed win
They had lost five of six games, falling to the fringes of the playoff race.
They still have a lot of work to make a serious run at the postseason, but they would’ve had no shot with a loss.
If they are to challenge for a spot, the Raiders need to play far better than they did against the Browns.
That’s something that can be addressed this week in practice and video study. For now, they will take this victory no matter how it looked.
2. That said …
It’s true that winning in the NFL should never be looked down upon, and Sunday’s surprising results were a reminder of that truth.
But the Raiders also were facing the Browns’ JV team and seemingly did everything they could to keep Cleveland in the game.
Late in the first half, the Raiders had first-and-goal at the 6-yard line. The running game helped them get there, and the Browns were more than ready to start burning timeouts. Yet the Raiders did not call one running play in settling for a field goal, giving the Browns enough time to drive for a field goal. The Raiders were fortunate the Browns missed.
Then with the chance to take complete control in the second half, DeSean Jackson dropped a wide-open pass on third down. On the following series, Derek Carr fumbled twice. The Browns recovered the second fumble and drove for a touchdown to cut the lead to 10-7.
Cleveland eventually went ahead in the fourth quarter before the Raiders came back to win.
3. The Chubb factor
The Raiders dared the Browns to pass in the first half, ganging up to stop Browns running back Nick Chubb and hold him to 14 yards on six carries.
But Browns third-string quarterback Nick Mullens made enough plays to back off the Raiders in the second half, and Chubb responded with 17 carries after halftime for 77 yards.
When the Raiders needed to stop Chubb in the end, however, they did. He was stopped for no gain on third-and-3, forcing a Browns punt and leading to the Raiders’ winning drive.