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CLEVELAND – Darren McFadden rarely fumbles. The Raiders running back and hasn’t had more than one in a season since 2010, and hadn’t lost the ball since Sept 15, 2013.
That streak snapped on Sunday, at the worst possible time. McFadden lost a fumble in the red zone, late in the third quarter of a three-point game.
The Cleveland Browns scored a decisive touchdown four plays later and went on to claim a 23-13 victory at FirstEnergy Stadium. It was the biggest play of a game the Raiders desperately needed, a fact not lost on McFadden.
“It was a big mistake on my part,” McFadden said. “It’s something that I can not do. I can’t put the ball on the ground. I take full responsibility. That was a big turning point in the game … I caused it, and things went downhill from there.”
McFadden was running hard and braced for contact appropriately. Browns safety Donte Whitner made an excellent play. He got low and put a helmet right on the football. It shot out quickly, right into Joe Haden’s hands.
“(I wasn’t aiming for the ball but, sometimes, when a running back tries to get lower than you, the ball has lower exposure,” Whitner said. “Being a shorter guy, I just made a play and put my head on the ball. We needed that one.”
The Raiders were driving, travelling 62 yards on 12 plays before disaster struck. The Raiders needed a better result from that play and a better to a disappointing turn. The Browns marched right downfield against a deflated unit before scoring key points.
We turned the ball over with a chance to go ahead and swing momentum our way,” interim head coach Tony Sparano said. “Then they went and scored quickly. That’s a situation where all phases have to work together.”