OAKLAND -- Searching for a microcosm of the Raiders' lost season?Look no further than Sunday's curious 20-17 loss to an unimpressive Cleveland club. Because sure, while the Browns did just enough to win, the Raiders did even more to lose before a season-low announced crowd of 43,641 at the O.co Coliseum.Three separate developments marked the occasion and all-but guaranteed the Raiders losing a fifth straight game for the first time since 2007.1) Injuries wreak havoc with the Raiders' lack of quality depth
The Raiders lost three defensive players to concussions and their respective absences wrecked the Raiders secondary. First, starting free safety Matt Giordano was knocked out of the game on the final play of the first quarter knocking Browns tight end Benjamin Watson out of bounds.Then, late in the second quarter, cornerback Phillip Adams was concussed when he hit the ground after picking off Brandon Weeden on a long pass down the left sideline inside the Raiders' 10-yard line.Finally, safety Mike Mitchell took a knee to the helmet while tackling Browns running back Trent Richardson on those same sidelines at the Oakland 21-yard line and stayed on the field for a few minutes. He left the field and returned for one play before being taken off again, much to his protest.To put it in simpler terms, at one point Brandian Ross was in the game at free safety to replace the injured Mitchell, who had replaced the injured Giordano, who had been inserted to the starting lineup in place of Michael Huff, who moved to cornerback to replace the injured Shawntae Spencer.Where have you gone Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes?And oh yeah, strong safety Tyvon Branch lost his right shoe and tweaked his foot and had to come off the field for for a spell, too. Plus, cornerback Ron Bartell got benched for a bit after getting the Elvis "Toast" Patterson treatment on Josh Gordon's 44-yard touchdown reception.Any surprise, then, that Weeden passed for a career-high 364 yards?"It obviously was a factor," said Raiders coach Dennis Allen. "But injuries happen. We have to find ways to persevere and make it through that."2) A costly and back-breaking turnover
Yeah, you could most definitely Tweet that this one was PalmersFault.Momentum had shifted to the Raiders' side by the fourth quarter and, trailing by just three, Oakland was at the Browns' 33-yard line and had a 1st and 10 situation.Palmer dropped back and spied Juron Criner flying down the left sideline. Palmer threw and while Criner had a step on cornerback Sheldon Brown, the ball was badly underthrown and all Brown had to do was settle under it for the interception."Well, Carson threw a few deep balls at me today," Brown said. "You'd have to talk to him and see what he saw on tape last week when he was preparing. On that particular play I had an opportunity to cover the short field. I lined up in press like I was going to stay down tight. Criner released outside, I bailed out of there. And at that point I saw Carson throwing the ball and I just became the receiver and caught it."Sounds easy enough, right?"I tried to take a shot there and go for the touchdown quickly and didn't put the ball in the right spot," Palmer said. "Didn't give Juron a chance to make a play on the ball."I just didn't put it far enough outside."Said Allen: "We've got all the momentum. We can't have that self-inflicted wound."No, Palmer is not Jay Schroeder, or even Marc Wilson. But to a certain segment of the fan base, he's no Terrelle Pryor, either. For better or worse. Then again, we don't know what, exactly, Pryor can do in an NFL game yet.3) The defense gets gashed, again
Sure, Palmer's pick hurt. But there was still 9:31 to play in the game when the interception occurred, and the Browns' backs were in the Black Hole as Cleveland set up at its own 6-yard line.A defensive stop and Palmer would be in business to atone for his interception, like he did in Atlanta earlier this year.This time, though, the defense did not rise to Palmer's defense. Instead, it allowed the Browns to march 94 yards in a mind-numbing 14 plays that took 6:04 off the clock. So by the time Trent Richardson plowed in from three yards out, the Raiders trailed by 10, with just over three minutes to play.Ballgame."A 94-yard drive? Those are hard to manufacture early in the game," said Browns coach Pat Shurmur. "There were some guys that made some key plays. We were throwing it, we were running it. We converted a couple third downs on that drive. So that was a credit to the players involved."Said Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston: "We haven't been able to finish yet this year."Yup, a microcosm of the entire season, wrapped up in three tidy developments.