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Browns' defense knocks off winless Raiders

It wasn't pretty, but the Cleveland Browns took care of business at home and moved to 4-3 on the year with Sunday's 23-13 win over the Oakland Raiders at FirstEnergy Stadium. Here's what you need to know:

  1. The Browns avoided becoming the first team in NFL history to drop back-to-back games to winless teams this late in the season. Cleveland's offense was punchless for long stretches, but the Raiders couldn't take advantage of it. The defense played its best game of the year -- generatingthreeturnovers -- but the offense remains a concern. This isn't the same Browns attack that battered teams on the ground to climb to 3-2, but beating a bad team at home is part of the learning process for Mike Pettine and Co.
  1. Brian Hoyer overcame a slow start to complete 19 of 28 passes for 275 yards and one score. He continues to gain chunk yardage off play-action looks, but those looks won't be there against better defenses if the running game continues to spiral. Hoyer did enough to keep Johnny Manziel in a ski cap on the bench, but he still throws far too many off-target passes. At least three -- maybe four -- of his lobs should have been picked off. That said, Hoyer is doing more for the Browns than any quarterback since the team's return in 1999.
  1. Win or lose, I'm impressed with Derek Carr. He can make all the throws and seems to thrive under pressure. He hit 34 of 54 passes to nine different targets for 328 yards and one touchdown. He was at his best leading the Raiders on a two-minute drive for a field goal to close the first half. It wasn't a perfect outing, but Carr doesn't kill Oakland with turnovers. There were plays where a less-polished rookie might have tossed the ball into coverage, but Carr wisely threw it away. The Raiders have cycled through a league-leading 21 quarterbacks since 1998 -- the Browns are next with 20 -- but Oakland's search might be over.
  1. There's an aura of doom surrounding Cleveland's ground attack since losing Alex Mack. The Browns inserted practice-squad blocker Nick McDonald into Mack's vacated center spot on Sunday, but it made little difference against the league's worst run defense. The Raiders blew up plays in the backfield and won the trench war to hold Cleveland to 39 yards at 1.6 yards per tote. Giving promising rookie Isaiah Crowell just one carry all day is baffling.
  1. Matt Schaub emerged from the wilderness to fling an interception to safety Tashaun Gipson on a would-be fake punt in the first quarter. To be fair, Schaub was forced to field a botched snap, but it's not a good look for the veteran quarterback Dennis Allen once put on par with Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers in the AFC West.
  1. That Gipson pick marked his fifth on the year and third in two weeks. It's concerning for the Browns, though, that Cleveland has turned those interceptions into just 13 points, which includes Gipson's pick six against the Saints.
  1. Jordan Cameron was lost to a concussion after taking a vicious helmet-to-helmet shot from safety Brandian Ross on a leaping 21-yard catch in the second quarter. The Browns also lost cornerback K'Waun Williams to a neck injury.

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