Sports

Shorthanded Browns see their playoff hopes take a hit after Raiders win, 16-14, on field goal as time expires

CLEVELAND, Ohio — With 22 players on the COVID-19 list and first place on the line in the AFC North, the Browns turned to their defense and a little Nick Mullens magic to attempt to pull out the unlikeliest of wins on Monday night.

The Raiders, however, had other ideas.

Daniel Carlson made a 48-yard field goal as time expired to steal a win for Las Vegas, 16-14, and leave the Browns in last place in the division. With a win, the Browns (7-7) would have taken over first place.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who finished the night 25-of-38 for 236 yards, a touchdown and an interception, led the game-winning drive. It started from the Raiders’ 29-yard line with 1:50 left.

“I told them I was so proud of their effort,” said Browns acting coach Mike Priefer, who was called into head coaching duties because Kevin Stefanski is stil on the COVID list. “I told them, we still have an opportunity. We are one game behind with three games left.

“That locker room right now is hurting,” Priefer added. “That’s the most I’ve seen it in that kind of pain. … When you lose that type of game, that one’s tough. They’re pretty down right now. … They’re young people, and when you lose like that, a game we thought we should have won there at the end … they made the plays at the end.”

The Browns made it interesting, trailing 13-7 when they took the lead with 3:45 left in the game. Nick Mullens, starting because Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum are on the COVID list, rolled to his left on fourth-and-5 and found tight end Harrison Bryant for a 6-yard touchdown. The play put the Browns ahead, 14-13, following the extra point by kicker Chase McLaughlin.

Priefer said the coaching staff talked about whether to kick a field goal on the fourth-down play, but at that point of the game trying for the touchdown was the only way to go.

“If there’s 7-8 minutes left, maybe,” Priefer said. “(With a field goal) … If they got a few first downs, we may not have had great field position going back. It was a no-brainer.”

The TD came four plays after an 11-yard touchdown run by Nick Chubb was negated by a hold against right guard Wyatt Teller.

Then the Browns defense, which bent but didn’t break for much of the evening, got the ball back. Defensive back Greedy Williams, starting in place of Greg Newsome II, who remains in the league’s concussion protocol, intercepted Carr’s deep pass intended for wide receiver Zay Jones with 2:47 left.

The Browns, however, failed to convert a first down on three straight runs, and the defense was called upon again when the Raiders took over with 1:50 left and no timeouts from their own 29.

Mullens finished the game 20-for-30 for 147 yards and a touchdown. His passer rating was 89.2.

Chubb rushed for 91 yards on 23 carries.

The Raiders also are 7-7.

The Browns defense came out in the second half needing a big play to help the struggling offense and they got it in on the Raiders’ second possession of the half.

Defensive end Sheldon Day and linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah sacked Carr and Owusu-Koramoah jarred the ball loose for Porter Gustin to recover with 7:13 left in the quarter. That gave the Browns the ball at the Raiders’ 47. Carr was down after the play but walked off the field and returned the next series.

Before he could come back, however, the Browns’ offense paid the defense back behind 34 rushing yards from Chubb, including a 24-yarder to move the Browns to the 6. After what appeared to be a great catch by tight end David Njoku in the back of the end zone was ruled incomplete, Chubb ran it in from 4 yards out to pull the Browns within 10-7.

The Browns defense again bent but didn’t break, giving up a 40-yard field goal with 14:46 left in the fourth quarter to give Las Vegas a 13-7 lead.

Quiet first half

Neither offense did much to speak of for most of the first half. The Raiders outgained the Browns, 178-84, and possessed the ball for 18:22 but only managed 10 points.

The Browns had a chance to salvage the first half when they put together their best drive of the half with 56 seconds left, driving to the Raiders’ 29-yard line. Chase McLaughlin was short and right on a kick as time expired after the Raiders iced him with their final timeout and the Browns trailed 10-0 at the half.

Prior to that drive, Las Vegas drove 56 yards and ate up 5:18, but the defense forced the Raiders to settle for a Carlson 24-yard field goal with 56 seconds left.

After forcing a punt, the Raiders opened the scoring when Carr completed all eight of his pass attempts for 77 yards. The touchdown came on a 5-yard throw to wide receiver Bryan Edwards with 3:44 left in the opening quarter. The Raiders overcame two holding calls on the drive.

Mullens completed 12-of-18 passes for 72 yards in the first half as the Browns rushed for just 12 yards. Donovan Peoples-Jones struggled, catching just one of five first-half targets for 6 yards.

After forcing another punt, the Raiders, operating pinned back at their own 4-yard line, got a gift on a questionable 46-yard pass interference call against cornerback M.J. Stewart but couldn’t take advantage. They had a holding call on first-and-10 from the Browns’ 45, a fumble on second-and-10 that set up a third-and-21 and a Stewart pass breakup on the third-down throw.

Browns defensive end Takk McKinley was carted to the locker room in the third quarter with an ankle injury and ruled out. Priefer said after the game he was being evaluated.

The Browns were ravaged by COVID throughout the week, even after activating safety John Johnson III on Monday and guard Teller on Sunday.

Stefanski, acting running backs coach Ryan Cordell and offensive assistant coach T.C. McCartney all missed the game. Priefer filled in as head coach, offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt called plays and chief of staff Callie Brownson served as running backs coach.

Next

The Browns travel to Green Bay on Christmas to face the Packers at 4:30 p.m.

The Raiders host Denver on Sunday at 4:25 p.m.

Get the latest Browns merchandise: Here’s where you can order Cleveland Browns gear online, including jerseys, T-shirts, hoodies, hats and much more.

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