The only time between 1970 and 1986 that the Browns beat the Raiders was in 1973.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
The Browns can't expect to score 51 points again, and QB
Derek Anderson admits he is wary of speedy Raiders CBs Nnamdi Asomugha and
Fabian Washington. Oakland will play mostly man coverage, counting on the
cover men to hold their own so the Raiders can concentrate on stopping RB
Jamal Lewis on first and second down.
Stick with what works: RB LaMont Jordan has rushed for 260 yards in two games, and the Raiders will continue
to pound away on the ground with QB Josh McCown's ability to move the ball
through the air sporadic.
Oakland needs to control the clock to help its
suddenly struggling defense.
KEY INJURIES: Browns: P Dave Zastudil (pulled oblique) might not play, so Scott Player was signed as insurance; CB Leigh Bodden (groin) will likely play, but might be limited. Raiders: DE Derrick Burgess' status (calf) is uncertain.
FAST FACTS: The Browns have allowed 10 touchdown passes in two games after giving up 20 all of last season. ... Jordan is coming of a career-high 159 rushing yards last Sunday.
The Raiders opened some eyes during their final roster reduction to 53
men when they cut Quentin Moses, the first pick of the third round, No. 65
Oakland obviously sought young blood at end, and was in need of a pass
rusher to complement Derrick Burgess, the NFL leader in sacks over the past
two seasons with 27.
How did Moses get squeezed?
He flashed the occasional ability to rush the passer, but was slender in
build and had difficulty against the run.
But the main reason was Moses simply got outplayed by fellow rookie Jay Richardson.
A defensive end out of Ohio State, Richardson came in the fifth round --
73 selections after Moses.
"Jay Richardson came in here kind of an unknown, hand-picked by our
scouting people," defensive coordinator Rob Ryan said during training camp.
"He's worked so hard for (line coach) Keith Millard, every single day after
practice, he just improved leaps and bounds."
When Moses was cut, Richardson was as surprised as anybody.
"I guess that just told me how much they think of me and that they
believe in me," Richardson said. "As a rookie, you're struggling to find
where you fit in. Before you prove it to the team, you need to prove to
yourself that you belong."
Richardson said he and Moses remain friends and talk almost every day.
Through two games, Richardson has had more to talk about.
At 6-feet-6, 280 pounds, Richardson is big enough to be a base end and
has shown some ability to rush from the edge. A former basketball player in
high school, Richardson showed an ability to knock down passes in training
camp, and his deflection of a Jay Cutler pass against Denver resulted in a
44-yard touchdown return by Thomas Howard.
"That was a big play for us," Richardson said. "I was just trying to
attack that tackle's left. I wanted the sack, but I was able to get my hand
up and tip the ball into T-Howard's hands. Once he gets the ball, no one's
catching him. That was a momentum turning point in the game."
With Derrick Burgess missing practice during the week with a calf injury
and possibly sidelined, Richardson could step into the starting role at left
Richardson said he prefers left end, although he played both sides in
college and the Raiders have played him on either side since he arrived.
The darkest mark against the Browns just two weeks into the season is the
fact they have already allowed 10 touchdown passes. That is half of what
they allowed all last year.
After facing the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger in the opener and Carson Palmer in the second game, they are seemingly catching a break facing Josh
McCown Sunday in Oakland. But coach Romeo Crennel says if mistakes are not
cleaned up McCown could also torch the secondary.
"I don't think there are ever any legitimate reasons for giving up
touchdowns on defense, particularly the number we have given up in two
games," Crennel said. "We cannot allow the ball to be thrown over our heads.
That's one of the things that we've been working on -- to stay deep, know
what our responsibility is.
"If they have to complete them, make them complete them in front of us,
so that we have a chance to come up and make the tackle. Then we're going to
have to be good tacklers if that's the case."
Injuries have been a factor in the early struggles. So has finding a
replacement for Brian Russell, the free safety who signed with the Seahawks
in free agency when the Browns decided Brodney Pool would be better, if not
this year then in the future. Russell did a good job of not letting
receivers get behind the defense.
Pool is still feeling his way as Russell's replacement. He is working
through the second concussion of his career. He did not practice Wednesday
Mike Adams, who replaced Pool when Pool was knocked out of the game with
the concussion in the first half last week, is wearing a brace on his right
wrist. He also has a shoulder bruise, but he is confident he can play
against the Raiders. He was limited in practice Thursday after sitting out
The key player will be rookie cornerback Eric Wright, the second-round
draft choice from Nevada-Las Vegas. Wright gave up a touchdown pass to Hines Ward in the opener, a touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh last week and
shared in a blown coverage on a touchdown pass to Houshmandzadeh.
Crennel could start Daven Holly instead of Wright, but Crennel prefers
the rookie. Plus, Holly missed the game last week after suffering a
concussion, although he could have played against the Bengals. Holly will be
the nickel back Sunday.
"I think Eric, overall, has more talent and more ability than Holly,"
Crennel said. "He's got quicker feet, he's a little bit faster, he's bigger
and he's got a little knack for playing the position. That allows him to
start over Holly."
Wright is not discouraged by the way he played against the Steelers or
Bengals. He has been in "good position" on pass coverage, but he has to be
in "great position to make the play in this league" so quarterbacks stop
throwing at him, Crennel said.
"I'm playing pretty solid," Wright said. "I'm just young. I'm trying to
get over the hump as soon as possible. There are things I definitely need to
tighten up and I will. It's not an issue.
"The things that are going to work for me are technique and leverage and
knowing what to do. It has nothing to do with whether the receiver is big or
Wright will be matched against 6-2, 210-pound Ronald Curry Sunday. Curry leads the Raiders with 12 catches for 145 yards.
PREDICTION: Raiders 23-17