Stopping the run is the most critical facet of the game for an NFL team, and again this area of weakness led to a Browns defeat, this one 26-24 at the hands of the Oakland Raiders.
After a sloppy start, the combination of LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas rushed for 171 of the Raiders 186 yards on the ground against an overmatched Cleveland defense. Oakland willed the rushing game to succeed in the second half, as they maintained time of possession, wearing down an already-suspect Cleveland defense.
Despite issues against the run, the Browns pass defense played well in spots. Rookie cornerback Eric Wright was victimized on a 41-yard touchdown reception from Josh McCown to Ronald Curry, but the success of the Oakland passing game was a result of the Raiders dedication to the run.
Controlling the interior of the line manned by nose tackle Ted Washington and Ethan Kelley, the Raiders methodically moved the chains. As the game progressed, the Raiders were able to run the ball effectively off tackle, due to the ability of the guards, backs, and receivers in sealing off the corner. Pinching the linebackers to the inside, the rushing lanes were open, although poor tackling by the Browns linebackers helped them seem even bigger.
The Browns lack of offensive efficiency contributed mightily to the destruction of the Cleveland rush defense in the second half. Oakland controlled the football in excess of 20 minutes in the second half and 36 minutes overall.
If you can't move the football to keep the clock moving and the defense off the field, the odds are against you winning on a consistent basis.
Offensively, quarterback Derek Anderson struggled with his accuracy and reads at times, as he threw into coverage and missed open receivers. Anderson again displayed the ability to get rid of the football, avoiding the rush, and his leadership was outstanding, especially in the final minute of the game.
The knock on Anderson remains with his tendency to turn the ball over. His two interceptions against the Raiders came on terrible passes, one which he was directly responsible for, and the other where we need to determine if the receiver ran the wrong sight adjustment.
As was the case in season-opening loss to the Steelers, the Browns abandoned to the run earlier than they would have liked, due to falling behind. While the Cleveland offensive line did not open the gaping holes as they did a week ago, running back Jamal Lewis was reasonably effective running behind Eric Steinbach and Joe Thomas.
We'll be back today with an in-depth look at the Browns loss to the Raiders.
Instant Analysis: Raiders Heartbreaker
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