The Cleveland Browns had the opportunity to lock in a place in the expanded NFL playoffs by beating the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday. Going a pi week, with an easy schedule, Cleveland split for their opponent. With a 16-6 win over Las Vegas Cleveland, the Raiders were very natural at the point of contact and ran across the Browns defense up to 206 yards in 44 carries.
Browns missed the blocks, dropped the pass and made fines with a bony head. They were terrible in every aspect of the game, and it was hard to identify a player who performed better. Cleveland defensive coordinator Joe Woods’ theatrical call showed an incredible lack of situational awareness. Las Vegas held the ball for 37:43 and limited the big gains from Karim Hunt.
It wasn’t pretty, but in another possible battle against the AFC playoff team, the Raiders imposed their will on the Browns.
Why Las Vegas won
The Las Vegas contact area was very natural. The team did an excellent job of limiting the big plays. The Raiders crossed 200 quick yards in 44 carries, while holding the ball 15 minutes longer than their rival.
Penalty was an issue in the first quarter, but mistakes were cleared up during the game. Las Vegas had a +1 turnover difference, despite an afternoon -5 turnover difference.
Why Cleveland lost
Where does one begin to describe a defense filled with professionals who show anything other than a professional game on Sunday? In the 3rd and longer situations, defensive coordinator Joe Woods did not anticipate or worry about the screens. Lack of awareness was exacerbated by the unpredictable weather. Josh Jacobs and Devonde Booker ran through the infants and the team’s worst run matched all the games. Cleveland were unable to catch the bad line as Miles Carrett left the field with a knee injury.
Baker Mayfield did not play badly, but his receivers did him zero favors. The tight end was due to Harrison Bryant’s only return of the day, and several passes dropped. Opportunities to extend the drives fell to the ground helplessly.
Hunter Renfro’s 4-yard touchdown reception at the start of the fourth quarter was mainly a nail in the coffin. At no point did Cleveland think the offense could put the ball in the final zone. Renfro’s catch is somewhat controversial. The ball certainly hit the ground, but never the camera angle showing the loss of control. The call came after an official review.
Browns is still looking for answers with a 5-3 record in a pie week. The good news is that in the back half of their table are the worst teams in the league: the Jaguars, the Jets, the Giants, the Texans and the Eagles. Their post-season fate is still in the air.
Las Vegas are now 4-3 up against Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Francos in two games. Chargers are waiting for next weekend.