Tony Avelar Associated Press Browns running back Trent Richardson (33) is congratulated by teammates after scoring on a three-yard touchdown run against the Raiders in the fourth quarter.

Rain stops, cloud remains

Published: Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 - 6:33 am

OAKLAND – The Raiders' problems have more to do with their play than the calendar.

Based on a 20-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at O.co Coliseum, the prospects for December aren't looking any better than a November that saw the Raiders go 0-4 and give up 169 points.

The Raiders (3-9) managed to avoid the blowout, which is small consolation considering the Browns (4-8) came into the game having lost their past 12 games on the road.

A persistent rain stopped before kickoff and much of the game was played in sunshine, but a cloud continued to hang over the Raiders.

"No one is coming in and saving us," coach Dennis Allen said. "It's our job and we have to get it done, and the guys in the locker room are still working hard to get it done."

Cleveland rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden completed 25 of 36 passes for 364 yards and a 44-yard touchdown to Josh Gordon, with Phil Dawson connecting on field goals of 41 and 35 yards.

For the Raiders, quarterback Carson Palmer was 34 of 54 for 351 yards, with a 64-yard touchdown strike to Rod Streater and a 17-yard score to Brandon Myers with one second left in the game. Sebastian Janikowski also connected on a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter.

The game swung on a crucial mistake by Palmer early in the fourth quarter and the follow-up sequence on defense.

The touchdown pass to Streater with 17 seconds left in the third quarter gave a crowd announced at 43,641 (the figure represents tickets sold – far fewer were actually in the stadium) a jolt of energy.

The Raiders defense came up with a stop, forced a punt, and Palmer drove the Raiders to the Browns' 33. On first and 10, Palmer saw Juron Criner matched man-to-man with Sheldon Brown and went for the big play.

The throw was short and to the inside, with Brown making the interception at the 6-yard line.

"I just didn't put it far enough outside," Palmer said.

With the ball at the 6-yard line, the Raiders' defense had plenty of time to get off the field and give Palmer another chance.

Instead, Weeden found Gordon for 11 yards on a crossing route on third and three, the catalyst for a 14-play, 94-yard drive that ended in a one-yard run by Trent Richardson and a 20-10 lead.

"That was kind of a statement," Weeden said. "We strung together a lot of really good plays. That shows the potential we have as an offense. It was probably our biggest drive of the year."

By the time the Raiders got the ball back, only 3:27 remained, and the Browns played a classic prevent defense – allowing completions in the middle of the field and forcing the Raiders to drain the clock.

By the time Palmer found Myers for the 14th time in the game, this one for the touchdown, one second remained.

Needing two scores to tie, Allen elected to work for the touchdown rather than have Janikowski attempt a field goal with enough time on the clock to make an onside kick meaningful.

The Raiders had reached the Cleveland 24 with one minute to play, and then were at the 15 with 32 seconds left. Both times, the Raiders instead worked toward the end zone rather than take three points.

"We thought about it, but we were down there and I was trying to get seven points," Allen said. "Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time on the clock to be able to execute an onside kick and still have an opportunity."

Two days after general manager Reggie McKenzie bemoaned the amount of big plays surrendered on defense, the Raiders allowed eight pass plays of 20 or more yards and allowed Cleveland 475 yards of total offense. The Raiders have given up 58 plays of 20 or more yards in 12 games.

"Week in and week out, it's the same: can't stop the run, can't stop the pass," cornerback Michael Huff said. "Right now, I guess we're just a bad defense. We can't really hide it. At this point, the numbers don't allow it. We're just bad right now."

Et cetera – Allen will miss most of team practice this week to be with his ill father in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The team said his father, Grady, who played five seasons as a linebacker with the Atlanta Falcons, has a serious medical condition.

Allen left immediately after Sunday's game and is expected to return to Oakland on Wednesday night. The Raiders host the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.

INSIDE

Following a fifth straight loss, it's time to declare this Raiders' season, though not among the worst ever, officially lost. Page C4

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