Nursing a three-point lead and backed up to the shadow of his own goal posts, rookie Brandon Weeden engineered a touchdown drive that gave the Cleveland Browns a happy plane ride home for a change and hope for a much brighter future.
Weeden threw for a career-high 364 yards and a touchdown and made key plays on the clinching 94-yard drive that helped the Browns snap a 12-game road losing streak by beating the Oakland Raiders 20-17 on Sunday.
“That was kind of a statement,” Weeden said. “We strung together a lot of really good plays. That shows the potential we have as an offense, and that’s encouraging. We had a lot of guys make different plays.”
Weeden hit fellow rookie Josh Gordon on a 44-yard score in the second quarter and Trent Richardson scored on a 3-yard run after Sheldon Brown made a key interception deep in Cleveland territory when the Raiders (3-9) were driving for the potential tying or go-ahead score in the fourth quarter.
It all added up to the first road win for the Browns (4-8) since beating Indianapolis 27-19 in the second game of the 2011 season.
The skid started a few weeks later with a loss in Oakland and went deep into this season.
“You don’t want streaks like that,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “Let’s face it, over the last few years we haven’t done a great job of winning games. And so, as we take this journey with this young football team, they’re starting to learn.”
The Raiders have lost five straight for the first time since a six-game losing streak in Lane Kiffin’s first year as coach in 2006 and have been eliminated from playoff contention for a 10th straight year.
The biggest blunder for the Raiders came when rookie Juron Criner used a double move to get behind Brown and Carson Palmer underthrew the deep ball with Oakland already in position for a game-tying field goal.
Brown intercepted the pass at the 6-yard line and Weeden engineered an impressive drive beginning with 9:31 to play.
“I was trying to take a shot there, go for the touchdown quickly and just didn’t put the ball in the right spot, didn’t give Juron a chance to make a play on the ball,” Palmer said.
Weeden completed an 11-yard pass on third-and-3 to Gordon to get the Browns started and also had a big 22-yard pass to tight end Benjamin Watson.
Weeden then converted a fourth-and-1 sneak from the Oakland 45 and Desmond Bryant jumped offside on a third-and-1 from the Raiders 10.
Richardson scored two plays later to give the Browns a 20-10 lead with 3:27 to go as the Browns won for the fourth time in seven games since an 0-5 start to match last season’s win total.
“Probably a defining drive of the season,” Brown said. “We had an opportunity to see the character of that offense.”