OAKLAND, Calif. — A day that began with a tribute and celebration to late owner Al Davis ended with questions about the Oakland Raiders’ future following a serious injury to starting quarterback Jason Campbell.
The Raiders overcame Campbell’s broken collarbone by getting a 101-yard kick
off return from Jacoby Ford and Kevin Boss’ 35-yard touchdown catch from punter Shane Lechler on a fake field goal in a 24-17 victory Sunday over the Cleveland Browns in the first home game since Davis’ death.
“This football team will be fine,” coach Hue Jackson said. “This team is a little bit more resilient than everyone thinks they are.”
They showed that Sunday after Campbell was knocked out late in the first half when he landed hard on his shoulder after being hit at the end of a scramble by Chris Gocong and Scott Fujita.
Kyle Boller entered in relief and struggled at times but the Raiders (4-2) got enough big plays on special teams to hold off the Browns (2-3) and win consecutive games for the first time this season.
“We honored one of the greatest Raiders ever in Coach Davis,” Jackson said. “I know he’s looking down saying ‘Just win, baby.’ That’s what we did. That’s what we do here. We win. I don’t care what it looks like. I don’t care if it’s pretty it’s ugly or whatever.”
It was an emotional day at the Coliseum with many old-time Raiders coming back to honor Davis, the man who had been the face of the franchise for nearly a half-century before dying Oct. 8 of an undisclosed illness at age 82.
Coaches and team officials all wore black shirts with a simple two-letter message supplanted on the Raiders shield: “AL.” The most poignant moment came during a halftime ceremony with dozens of former players standing in a circle around the Raiders emblem at midfield. Super Bowl-winning coach John Madden then lit a caldron on the plaza level in the corner of the stadium with the public address announcer saying the fire will “burn forever” for fans to remember Davis.
On a day full of tributes, the one Davis would have appreciated most is the one on the scoreboard.
“We all knew the task at hand and we just made sure we made the most of it,” cornerback Stanford Routt said.
Boller completed a 27-yard swing pass to Ford that set up Sebastian Janikowski’s 48-yard field goal that made it 17-7 late in the third quarter.
Oakland then took over again at the Cleveland 25 after a botched handoff between McCoy and Montario Hardesty. That’s when Jackson and special teams coach John Fassel once again successfully went to their book of tricks. On fourth down from the 35, Lechler — the holder — threw to a wide-open Boss in the flat and Boss raced to the end zone for the score that made it 24-7.
“It’s just taking advantage of what the defense is doing,” Boss said. “It’s a pretty simple pass and a pretty simple catch. I think all the credit goes to Coach Fassel for being able to recognize it’s something we should take advantage of. And to Coach Jackson for having the guts to call the play.”
Oakland’s win last week in Houston was aided by a 35-yard run on a fake punt by Rock Cartwright as Jackson has followed his credo to “live on the edge.”
That lead proved to be enough for the Raiders, who harassed Colt McCoy and held Cleveland’s running game to 65 yards. McCoy completed just 21 of 45 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns, including a 12-yarder to Mohamed Massaquoi that cut it to 24-17 with 1:06 remaining after Jackson bypassed a chip-shot field goal to go for it unsuccessfully on fourth-and-1 from the 5.
The Browns recovered the onside kick, but were unable to generate a first down and Oakland won it.
“We fought till the end,” McCoy said. “Eventually, we thought, we’re going to catch a break. In the huddle, after we got the onside kick, we thought we had a chance. We had a minute, that’s a long time. We got it on the 50. We just didn’t capitalize.”
Darren McFadden rushed for 91 yards on 20 carries with a touchdown for the Raiders.
After a pregame video tribute and moment of silence for Davis, the Raiders started fast. They forced a three-and-out to start the game with safety Matt Giordano sacking McCoy with a blitz on third down. Oakland them methodically moved 88 yards in 15 plays, converting four third-down opportunities and scoring on McFadden’s 4-yard run.
The Raiders were moving again when Campbell slid headfirst on a scramble and lost the ball. That led to Cleveland’s first score on McCoy’s 1-yard TD pass to Alex Smith.
Oakland answered with Ford’s 101-yard kickoff return — his fourth TD return in less than two years as a pro.
“Typically, if you have one special teams score, that’s enough to get you nailed,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “And we had two.”
Notes: Browns RB Peyton Hillis was limited in the second half by an injured left hamstring and will have an MRI on Monday. … Fujita left with a concussion. … Raiders C Samson Satele sprained his knee but told Jackson he likely will play next week.