The Baker Mayfield era in Cleveland appeared off to a 2-0 start on Sunday in Oakland.
Overturned spot gives Raiders a second chance
The Cleveland Browns had the ball and a 42-34 lead with less than two minutes to play and appeared to have a first down on a third-down run from running back Carlos Hyde. The officials measured a first down, putting the Browns in position to run out the clock for their second straight win.
But officials reviewed the play and determined that Hyde’s elbow hit the ground with the ball short of a first down. Fourth-and-inches. The Browns punted, and Derek Carr rallied the Raiders to overtime with a touchdown pass to tight end Jared Cook and ensuing two-point conversion.
When Raiders rookie kicker Matt McCrane put the ball through the uprights late in overtime, Oakland had secured the first win of the new Jon Gruden era.
Replay change was a surprise
The overturned call was a stunner. Spots are rarely changed by replay in the NFL, and video appeared to confirm that Hyde did, indeed, have the first down. But the call was made, and it led to a thrilling first win for the Raiders since Gruden’s return.
Raiders offense lights up
Oakland won behind big days in the air and on the ground. Carr overcame a pair of interceptions, passing for 437 yards and four touchdowns while Marshawn Lynch continued to demonstrate that Beast Mode is, in fact, still a thing, running for 130 yards on 20 carries.
Amari Cooper, who has defined feast or famine this season, feasted on the Browns’ secondary with eight catches for 128 yards and a touchdown while Carr often looked to Cook in the clutch to the tune of eight catches for 110 yards and two scores.
The 1-3 start isn’t what Raiders fans envisioned when the buzz over Gruden’s return was at its peak. Sunday’s win won’t bring Khalil Mack back or answer any questions about a sieve of a defense. But it does give Raider Nation its first reason to smile in a long time.
Positive takeaways for Browns
For the Browns, it’s a disappointing loss that halts the buzz and momentum of the Mayfield era. But there was plenty of good to take away from Sunday’s game.
Mayfield wasn’t great, throwing for 295 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while completing just 51.2 percent of his passes. But he was good enough to lead an offense that put up 42 points. The Browns didn’t break the 30-point barrier for the entirety of the 2017 season.
There were flashes of another young star in the making with rookie running back Nick Chubb, who managed 105 yards and two touchdowns on just three carries. There will surely be calls to get him the ball more moving forward.
Chubb, drafted with the second-round pick acquired in the Brock Osweiler trade to the Houston Texans, joins an exciting stable of young players that includes Mayfield, cornerback Denzel Ward and pass rusher Myles Garrett that gives Browns fans reasons for hope for the first time in a long time.
But while the story of the Browns remains their bright outlook, Sunday, controversy or not, belonged to Gruden and the Raiders.
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