Linebacker and captain D’Qwell Jackson isn’t prone to hyperbole. But in the afterglow of the 20-14 win over the Steelers last week, his emotions got the best of him.
“If we can take that focus to the rest of our season, I think we can win the rest of our games,” he said.
Whoa, big fella. The Browns haven’t won six straight since 1986.
More immediate is the lack of two wins in a row since Sept. 18 and Sept. 25, 2011. The Browns (3-8) had two chances for a winning streak this season but blew golden opportunities in the fourth quarter in losses to Indianapolis and Baltimore.
Jackson knows how difficult things can be in Browns Town, and quickly acknowledged winning the remaining five games isn’t “going to be easy.” But after a week of practice, he still believes his improving team is ready to get on a roll.
“Beating Pittsburgh was great for the community, great for the team, etc., but this is a game we can take,” he said of today’s matchup with the Raiders in Oakland, Calif. “We’ve had enough experience with those bigger opponents to be able to rise to this occasion, be able to take advantage of an opportunity here. I feel this is a great opportunity to go on a streak, but you’ve got to win the first one.
“It’s going to be big for this group to see how it feels. We have so many young guys who haven’t experienced what consecutive wins and a streak really means.”
The Raiders (3-8) look like the perfect opponent for the Browns to maintain the momentum. They’ve lost four straight, all by double digits and the last three by 35, 21 and 24 points. The team suspended starting linebacker Rolando McClain on Friday for two games for conduct detrimental.
But putting any game in Cleveland’s win column is premature, especially when it’s on the road. The Browns have lost 12 straight away from the lake, the last victory coming Sept. 18, 2011, in Indianapolis.
“We want to go on the road and win,” said quarterback Brandon Weeden, who passed Tim Couch for most passing yards by a rookie in team history with 2,456. “We’ve just got to get the monkey off our back and we’ve been close on the road. It’s all about finishing, find a way to win the game, whether it’s at home or on the road.
“It would be nice to take that 5½-, six-hour plane ride home after a win.”
The Browns have talked big before.
Heading into the second Ravens game in early November there was a lot of discussion about making a playoff push and how the aging Ravens were vulnerable. The Browns settled for five field goals, made crucial mistakes and lost a lead in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders — last in the league with 32.4 points allowed a game — aren’t the Ravens, but the Browns must prove they aren’t the Raiders. Jackson said the key is learning to handle winning.
“It’s something you have to major in. It’s not easy,” he said. “You’ve got to get right back to the drawing board and get ready for the next opponent. With our young guys, it’s so important to get that feeling (of a winning streak).”
Because the latest triumph came against the bully and archrival Steelers, the chance for traction is greater. The Browns proved they can match physicality with one of the league’s best while finally finishing in the fourth quarter.
Cornerback Joe Haden is sick of just talking about stacking the victories.
“That feeling, it’s all good for a week and then you go right back to feeling like crap,” he said. “You don’t want that to happen. So you want to keep it going.
“We say after every win we want this feeling again, then we lose. We can’t say it anymore, we have to go out there and win again so we can keep it for at least two weeks.”
The monsoon forecast for the Bay Area may be a factor today, but coach Pat Shurmur said the travel and unfamiliar surroundings are no excuse for the road skid. The Browns have had their chances at Cincinnati, Baltimore, Indianapolis and Dallas, they just couldn’t capitalize.
“You plan for being on the road,” Shurmur said. “You work on silent count. You work on all the things that you need to do when you’re on the road.
“You try to make it a non-issue, and you go play the game. If you develop players having highs and lows based on where they’re playing and when they’re playing, then emotionally they get all out of whack. You explain to them what they can expect. You prepare them for the environment, and then you let it rip.”
A week later, Jackson still thinks the Browns can rip off a winning streak that carries through the end of the year.
“There’s no rule that says it can’t be done,” he said.
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• WHO: Cleveland vs. Oakland
• TIME: 4:25 p.m.
• WHERE: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.
• TV/RADIO: Channel 19; WMMS 100.7-FM, WTAM 1100-AM
JUST THE FACTS
• RECORDS: Browns 3-8; Raiders 3-8
• LAST WEEK: Browns beat Steelers 20-14 at home; Raiders lost 34-10 at Cincinnati
• SERIES: Raiders lead 13-8
• SERIES IN OAKLAND/LOS ANGELES: Raiders lead 9-6
• LAST MEETING: Raiders won 24-17 in Oakland on Oct. 16, 2011
• COACHES: Pat Shurmur is 7-20 with Browns and overall; Dennis Allen is 3-8 with Raiders and overall
• TV/RADIO: Channel 19, with Bill Macatee and Steve Tasker; WMMS-FM 100.7, WTAM 1100-AM
• NFL RANKINGS: Browns — offense 29th (26th rushing, 23rd passing), defense 22nd (19th rushing, 21st passing); Raiders — offense 15th (29th rushing, 8th passing), defense 25th (28th rushing, 24th passing).
• BROWNS UPDATE: QB Brandon Weeden needs one win to tie Bernie Kosar with four, the most by a rookie in team history. … S T.J. Ward last week became the first Cleveland player since 2005 to force two fumbles in a game. … The Browns are fourth in the NFL with 25 takeaways. … The eight turnovers forced against the Steelers were the most by the Browns since 1989. … CB Joe Haden leads the team with three interceptions, despite playing in only six games. … WR Josh Gordon is second among NFL rookies with 530 receiving yards. … Cleveland is 7-3 in the last 10 vs. Oakland. … WR/KR Joshua Cribbs needs 100 kickoff return yards to pass Glyn Milburn (9,788) for fifth on the NFL’s career list. … K Phil Dawson needs three field goals to become the 25th player with 300 in his career.
• RAIDERS UPDATE: The current four-game losing steak is Oakland’s longest since 2008. … K Sebastian Janikowski will play his 200th game. … LB Miles Burris has 97 tackles, 60 solo. He can become the first Raiders rookie LB since 2006 with 100 tackles. … Brandon Myers is tied for third among NFL tight ends with 55 catches for 591 yards. His 26 catches in the fourth quarter rank third in the league. … The Raiders are second in the NFL at end-of-half scoring with 65 points. … Oakland ranks first in yards after catch with 1,629. … CB/KR Coye Francies was a sixth-round pick of the Browns in 2009. … LB Rolando McClain was suspended by the team Friday for two games for conduct detrimental. … Reggie McKenzie, who was hired Jan. 10, is the first person to hold the GM title since Al Davis was named coach and GM in 1963.
• BROWNS INJURY REPORT: Out: CB Dimitri Patterson (ankle), S Bubba Ventrone (calf), S Usama Young (concussion); Questionable: WR Joshua Cribbs (shoulder/chest), S Eric Hagg (illness); Probable: CB Johnson Bademosi (hip/shin), TE Jordan Cameron (groin), RG Shawn Lauvao (arm), RB Trent Richardson (chest/rib/finger), DE Frostee Rucker (shoulder/finger), TE Alex Smith (chest/ribs), S T.J. Ward (knee), QB Brandon Weeden (concussion), WR Greg Little (knee).
• RAIDERS INJURY REPORT: Out: DE Jack Crawford (toe), LB Rolando McClain (not injury related), DT Richard Seymour (knee/hamstring); Questionable: RB Mike Goodson (ankle), RB Darren McFadden (ankle); Probable: S Tyron Branch (neck), RB Taiwan Jones (ankle), QB Carson Palmer (right thumb), FB Marcel Reece (hamstring/quad).
• THE PICK: It’s long overdue, but the Browns finally string two wins together. Browns 23, Raiders 16.