CLEVELAND — One of these games, the Raiders will put it all together.
Oakland's offense will play turnover-free, the defense will make a big stop, the special teams will do something special.
One of these games, the Raiders will win.
One of these games.
Darren McFadden's fumble â€” he had the ball knocked loose by safety Donte Whitner's helmet â€” in the third quarter set up Cleveland's go-ahead touchdown and the Browns went on to a 23-13 win over Oakland, dropping the Raiders to 0-7.
The NFL's only winless team, Oakland has lost 13 in a row dating to last season, and the Raiders are 0-16 in games played in the Eastern time zone since 2009.
“We came up short again,” said interim coach Tony Sparano. “For a long time, we were involved in this game. It was another close football game right up to that last score. We just have to learn how to tug that rope a little tighter in those situations, and we're not there yet.”
The Raiders had their chances. Down just 9-6 late in the third quarter, they were driving to a possible tying field goal or go-ahead score when McFadden's fumble swung the game to the Browns (4-3).
On second-and-6 at the Cleveland 29, McFadden broke a few tackles on a 9-yard run when Whitner came up and delivered his big hit, jarring the ball loose.
It was caught in the air by Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden, who returned it 34 yards. On the next play, Brian Hoyer found Hawkins for a 32-yard gain and three plays later, the pair hooked up for a 4-yard TD.
Cleveland 16, Oakland 6.
“That's kind of the way I guess the season's been going,” Raiders safety Charles Woodson said. “Ball bounces right to the Browns, we don't have a chance to even fight for it or try to recover it. That's just kind of the way it's been going. Hard one to swallow.”
The Browns tacked on a late touchdown following a fumble by Raiders rookie quarterback Derek Carr, who made the score a little more respectable with a 7-yard TD pass to Andre Holmes with seven seconds left.
But the Raiders made too many errors earlier. Carr was sacked three times by Browns linebacker Paul Kruger and was rushed into other throws.
Carr did show poise and his powerful arm in completing 34 of 54 passes for 328 yards, but it wasn't nearly enough.
Still, he came away optimistic that the first win is right around the corner.
“We played hard,” Carr said. “We played with effort. We played with energy. You could tell in the past three games, same result, but it's a different team. We're not the same team, it's not just a flat feeling in the sideline. It's not just a feeling of, 'Oh here we go again.' It's a different mindset.
“We're changing the culture. Obviously the wins aren't there yet but we're changing it.”
Sebastian Janikowski kicked field goals of 46 and 38 yards for the Raiders. But it was one he didn't attempt that hurt the Raiders most.
On the Raiders' opening series, Carr drove the Raiders to the Cleveland 39. On fourth down, Oakland lined up for an apparent 57-yard field goal try by Janikowski, who then shifted to the right side as a wide receiver.
Raiders backup quarterback Matt Schaub, who is also the team's holder, then dropped the shotgun snap before flinging a pass that was intercepted by Tashuan Gipson and returned to the Oakland 48.
The Browns wound up converting the turnover into three points.
“It was my call,” Sparano said. “It was something that we saw on tape, and I think that if the play had been executed properly â€” we didn't have a great exchange â€” the ball would have gotten out earlier and we would have had a good chance. I thought we needed to take the chance.
“You don't go on the road and play to lose. I understand that those are the calls that get second guessed. I got it. That one is on me because we came here to win and we were going to do everything we could to win the football game.”
NOTES: It doesn't get any easier for the Raiders, whose next two games are against last season's Super Bowl teams. Oakland visits Seattle next week before hosting Denver on Nov. 9. … Raiders TE Mychal Rivera had seven catches for 83 yards. … Raiders rookie LB Khalil Mack was credited with six tackles, two for loss.