The 20-17 loss to the Browns, the Raiders' fifth straight, was perfectly emblematic of their woeful season, Paul Gutierrez of CSN Bay Area writes.
Injuries have definitely played a key role in the Raiders inability to win. They lost three more defensive players to concussions against the Browns, and it left their secondary in shambles. Although coach Dennis Allen acknowledges injuries happen, it is tough to adjust when they happen as often as they have to the Raiders this year. As Gutierrez writes, the carousel of Raiders' defenders on Sunday started to get a bit hard to follow.
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.
This constant forced rotation opened up some holes in the secondary, and the Browns made the Raiders pay. After intercepting Carson Palmer's pass with over nine minutes left, the Browns marched the length of the field to score and increase the lead to 10.
Gutierrez points out that the game was still very much in play after the interception, but not after the six-minute drive left the Raiders down 10 with only three minutes left. The Raiders defense has risen to the occasion sometimes this season, but usually they have fallen short.
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.
Of course, the ill-advised throw from Palmer is what allowed the defense to be put on the spot like that. The Raiders were charging in the fourth quarter and down by only three with the ball at in Browns territory and a first and 10 on their hands.
It was another gut-punch turnover the Raiders seem to be quite good at coughing up, as coach Allen told Gutierrez.
"We've got all the momentum. We can't have that self-inflicted wound."
The Raiders have a negative-six turnover ratio on the year. Palmer is tied for sixth in the NFL at 13 interceptions thrown. Not all the blame for the Raiders' losses need to land at his feet, but as Gutierrez writes, the loss to the Browns was a perfect microcosm of the Raiders' troubles this season.