There was more than a little bit of sadness in the air around the Raiders Sunday, but when all was said and done they did what Al Davis asked them to do every day he was associated with the team. They just won, baby, 24-17 over the Browns.
The win wasn’t without a cost. Jason Campbell has a broken collarbone and will likely miss the rest of the season after getting hurt on a run in the second quarter. That put a serious pall over a game that featured an emotional halftime tribute to Davis highlighted by former Raiders coach John Madden lighting a flame in the stadium as a memorial to the man who was the Raiders.
Davis would have likely appreciated the ingenuity the Raiders showed when they pulled off a perfect fake field goal in the third quarter to go up 24-7. Holder Shane Lechler took the snap and then stood up and fired a pass to a wide open Kevin Boss for a 35-yard touchdown that the Browns never saw coming. Davis also would have liked the way his defense harassed Browns quarterback Colt McCoy into a 21-of-45 passing performance and you know he would have loved the speed Jacoby Ford flashed on his way to a 101-yard kickoff return touchdown in the first half.
The Raiders are now 4-2 and in second place in the AFC West behind the idle Chargers. Their chances of improving on that position now rest in the hands of Kyle Boller, who looked pretty shaky but didn’t turn the ball over in his half of play on Sunday, or Terrelle Pryor, who watched the game in sweatpants while waiting to be activated. That’s not an ideal situation, but their running game is strong enough to provide hope that the Raiders won’t fade completely out of the picture now that Campbell is out of the picture.
As for the Browns, the loss drops them to 2-3 and they are well behind all the other teams in the AFC North at present. McCoy did not have a good day and the offense hasn’t shown any ability to make plays down the field in the passing game, but the team should feel good about the way he hung in there against a fierce pass rush. McCoy led them to a touchdown with just over a minute to go in the fourth quarter to draw within seven. The Browns recovered the ensuing onside kick, but McCoy misfired three straight times to end the drive and the hopes of an improbable comeback.
So the Raiders got the win on a day devoted to honoring the man who built their franchise. And they also got some serious questions about whether they’ll be able to keep up the strong start to their season thanks to the Campbell injury.