OAKLAND, CALIF: The Oakland Raiders took longtime owner Al Davis’ famous words to heart by doing everything in their power to “just win, baby.”
The Browns were the victims of the Raiders’ approach.
Despite mounting a serious comeback attempt, the Browns suffered a 24-17 loss Sunday in the Raiders’ first home game since Davis died at age 82 on Oct. 8. Coming off a bye, the Browns (2-3) were outplayed by the Raiders (4-2) in every phase of the game at O.co Coliseum.
The Raiders scored two special-teams touchdowns — Jacoby Ford’s 101-yard kickoff return and holder Shane Lechler’s 35-yard pass to tight end Kevin Boss off a fake field goal. They repeatedly harassed Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, forcing him to make poor throws under pressure. And their offense did enough to prevail despite losing starting quarterback Jason Campbell late in the first half. Campbell, who was replaced by Kyle Boller, is out for the season with a broken collarbone, NFL Network reported.
“Typically, if you [allow] one special-teams score, that’s enough to get you nailed,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “We [allowed] two, so we’ve gotta get that cleaned up.”
The Browns’ offense was out of sync, too. Of course, running back Peyton Hillis sitting out for most of the second half didn’t help.
Hillis said he pulled his left hamstring when strong safety Tyvon Branch pushed him out of bounds at the end of a 6-yard run with about 5:30 left in the first quarter. Hillis sat out for most of the second half, though he was on the field for a couple of plays in the fourth quarter.
“I felt it was a critical part in the game, and I didn’t want to leave [backup running back] Montario [Hardesty] hanging out there,” said Hillis, who had six carries for 14 yards. … “It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I wanted to help the team win. I was anxious to get out there and help. It was a critical point. We were just two possessions down.”
Hillis will undergo an MRI. He said he hopes to play Sunday when the Browns host the Seattle Seahawks, even if he’s not 100 percent.
Until then, the Browns will have plenty of corrections to make. Even though they rallied late, their overall performance was ugly.
The Browns trimmed their deficit to 24-10 when kicker Phil Dawson made a 47-yard field goal with 12:24 left in the fourth quarter. They cut the Raiders’ lead to 24-17 with 1:06 remaining when McCoy connected with wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi for a 12-yard touchdown pass.
Browns rookie James Dockery recovered the ensuing onside kick, but McCoy and Co. fell short in the end. McCoy threw three consecutive incomplete passes as the Browns’ final drive stalled. Massaquoi had a chance to catch the final pass, but didn’t secure the ball as a defender knocked into him.
“There were a lot of incompletions in there,” said McCoy, who completed 21-of-45 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions but a few close calls. “They showed us a lot of different looks. We made a couple bad throws, dropped a couple balls and those things will hurt you. When you do that — and we got a few penalties in the first half that kind of knocked us back — it’s hard for us as a young group to really kind of fight through that. If there is a positive, we did fight through all those things and gave ourselves a chance at the end. I just really wish we could have got it done.”
The Raiders led 14-7 at halftime and extended their lead to 17-7 with 3:06 left in the third quarter when kicker Sebastian Janikowski capped a seven-play, 35-yard drive with a 48-yard field goal. During the next series, McCoy dropped the ball as he was turning to hand it off, and Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly recovered the fumble.
Boss was wide open four plays later when he caught the pass from Lechler. Boss ran about 32 yards and stumbled into the end zone after weakside linebacker Chris Gocong caught him and tripped near the goal line.
“We sold out to block [the field goal],” Shurmur said. “When you sell out to block it, trying to keep the game in a position where you can win it with a score or two, that can happen.”
Raiders running back Darren McFadden had 20 carries for 91 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown run that gave the Raiders a 7-0 lead with 5:43 left in the first quarter. McCoy later connected with tight end Alex Smith for a 1-yard touchdown pass, helping the Browns tie the score 7-7 with 12:07 left in the second quarter.
But the Browns failed to hold onto the momentum for more than a few moments because Ford returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown. Dawson dived as he tried to push Ford out of bounds near midfield, but Ford successfully tiptoed along the sideline. The touchdown stood after officials reviewed the play.
“There’s a reason that guy’s returning kicks and I’m not,” Dawson said. “He kind of gave me a little head move, so I had to protect the middle and then he went to sideline and that’s probably what ultimately got me. That’s pretty much a mismatch at that point.”