In both of the Oakland Raiders' losses this season, the run defense, or lack thereof, played a major factor in the loss. First the Raiders allowed Fred Jackson and the Buffalo Bills to run wild all over the Raiders defense in week two of the season. Since then, Jackson has been in the top three running backs as far as yards are concerned, so perhaps that was not such a big deal. However, in week four, the Raiders allowed the New England Patriots to run a muck as they amassed 183 yards on the ground. Yeah, the New England Patriots. Now that was embarrassing.
Since that game, the Raiders have really tightened up their run defense. Last week against the Houston Texans, they held star running back Arian Foster to 68 yards on the ground, a rather impressive feat. This week, the Raiders held the Cleveland Browns to a total of 65 yards on the ground as a team. Now, Peyton Hillis did have to leave the game early with a hamstring injury, but even so, it was an impressive feat for a team that has struggled severely in rush defense.
Additionally, the lack of Hillis did not prevent the Browns from trying to run the ball. While the Browns only called 17 run plays against Oakland on Sunday, that had more to do with the fact that they were trailing than it did with giving up on the run game. Even late in the second half, Pat Shurmur continued to call run plays in the hopes of Montario Hardesty busting a big run and getting the Browns back into the game.
If the Raiders can continue to stifling opposing team's running backs, perhaps the loss of Jason Campbell will not hurt quite as bad.