Raiders add a productive rushing game

The rushing game took on a level for the Raiders this past weekend. "That's par for the course around here," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said with disgust in every word. Oakland effectively mixed in the pass as well.

Raiders Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: B -- With 41 runs and 26 passes, the Raiders didn't pass much, but they were productive when they did. Josh McCown hit Ronald Curry for a 41-yard touchdown before leaving with a foot injury. Culpepper was eight of 14 for 118 yards and had a 20-yard strike to Jerry Porter late in the game on third-and-10. Neither quarterback was intercepted.

RUSHING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Oakland ran 41 times for 186 yards, with Jordan gaining 121 yards on 29 attempts. Justin Fargas added 50 yards on eight carries, and the Raiders wore down the Browns by going run-heavy in the second half. The only quibbles were a lost fumble by Jordan late in the first half and running plays that went nowhere in two first-and-goal situations in the first half.

PASS DEFENSE: C-plus -- Great for 10 possessions, then terrible on the last two, and the only reason those final two possessions didn't mean defeat were because of a blocked field-goal attempt. Oakland's soft defense on the last possession gave up 33- and 23-yard completions from Derek Anderson to Kellen Winslow and a final 13-yard pass to Joe Jurevicius to the 22. Until the last two possessions, the Raiders rushed Anderson well enough to keep him off balance and linebackers Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard had interceptions.

RUSH DEFENSE: B -- With the Browns behind 16-0 early, they didn't see the need to force-feed the ball to Jamal Lewis. There wasn't much room to run when they did, as Lewis averaged 3.7 yards per carry (15 carries, 56 yards). Erase a 15-yard run, and Lewis averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry on his other 14 attempts.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Give the Raiders credit for blocking a potential game-winning field goal from the accurate Phil Dawson, but little else. The Browns' Joshua Cribbs raced 99 yards for a touchdown on a kickoff return and had a 22-yard punt return. Raiders returners Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chris Carr did little of note. Shane Lechler averaged 55 yards per punt, with a net of 41. He pinned the Browns at the 9 late in the game, but punted 69 yards into the end zone on another. Sebastian Janikowski converted three times from short range (32, 22 and 23) and also once from 48 yards.

COACHING: B - Lane Kiffin gets credit for going for a first down at fourth-and-one at the Cleveland 49 while trailing by a point. The Raiders got the first down and scored on an 80-yard drive that consumed 9:05. The Raiders actually had a lead, lost it, then regrouped -- something that never happened last year. The game plan to attack Cleveland on the ground late paid off. The Raiders finally looked like a top-level defense until the final two possessions. They appeared to drop too many men into coverage on the final drive and it nearly cost them the game.

Browns Report Card:

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Derek Anderson played very poorly in the first half, and by the time he got the offense moving, it was just about too late. Anderson had two bad interceptions on poor reads, and forced the ball several other times, according to his coach. He was able to move the Browns from their 8-yard line to the 23 in the final seconds, but the effort was too little too late.

RUSHING OFFENSE: D -- Not much to be had here. The Browns didn't abandon the run, but found themselves behind 16-0 in the first half and 26-17 in the second half. That led to more throws and a poor effort in the running game with Jamal Lewis averaging less than four yards per carry.

PASS DEFENSE: D -- Two key breakdowns hurt the Browns badly. On the first, rookie Eric Wright bit on a play-action fake on third-and-inches and Oakland was able to complete a 41-yard touchdown pass. On the second, the Browns defenders were invisible as Oakland was able to turn a third-and-23 into a 27-yard gain on a screen pass. Browns defenders called out to watch for the screen prior to the play, but still couldn't stop it -- a play that was typical of the team's effort.

RUSH DEFENSE: F -- Oakland was the third team to rampage through the Browns defense on the ground. At one point, the Raiders ran the ball 13 times in a nine-minute touchdown drive. The Browns have not stopped the run since they were granted an expansion team in 1999, and it appears it may take an act of Roger Goodell for them to stop the run this year.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- Joshua Cribbs' touchdown return on a kickoff got the Browns going offensively, but the field-goal unit could not stop the Raiders rush on a game-winning attempt. Cribbs continues to be a threat every time he touches the ball, but having a last-second kick blocked is a gut-wrenching way to lose a game.

COACHING: C -- Romeo Crennel was harder on his team after this loss than he's ever been. He said the team played poor football, relaxed on the last field goal and sarcastically said a back gaining 100 yards on the Browns is "par for the course." The anger seemed to indicate that Crennel feels let down by his team. This is a coach who consistently stands up for his players and backs them, but they followed a win with a poor effort. Problem is that it's the coach's job to ensure the team plays well, so Crennel could have easily been criticizing himself with his words.


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