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5 Observations: Analyzing the real turning point in Cleveland's loss to Oakland

A wild comeback wasn't enough to give Cleveland a winning record heading into its Week 4 road trip to San Diego.

Here's what we picked up from post-game interviews in a somber Browns locker room after the 27-20 loss to Oakland.

1) The real turning point in Sunday's loss

The first half wasn't good for the Browns in any phase of the game. It was particularly rough starting at the 9:38 mark in the second quarter, when a series of events turned what could have been a tie or even a Browns lead into a 14-point deficit heading into halftime.

Thanks to a first-down, offensive pass interference penalty on wide receiver Amari Cooper, Oakland was backed up to a first-and-20 at its own 10-yard line. A few plays later, the Raiders were punting and the Browns, trailing 3-0 and appearing to figure out some things on defense, were poised to take over in decent field position.

A roughing the punter penalty, which could have been handed to one of four Browns, changed everything and gave the ball right back to Oakland. Nine plays later, the Raiders were in the end zone for the first time and never led by fewer than a touchdown the rest of the way.

"We had good momentum with a stop and then had to go right back out, and they drove the length of the field," Browns coach Mike Pettine said.

The Browns got the ball back and mounted their best drive of the first half. They got all the way down to the 1-yard line and had four shots to get into the end zone. The Raiders stonewalled the Browns on the first three attempts, and Cleveland committed a false-start penalty on its fourth-down attempt, forcing Travis Coons to end the drive with a field goal.

"I don't think it really killed our momentum," tight end Gary Barnidge said. "Things happen … We have to just convert those in the future."

The cherry on top of this Oakland turning point occurred just moments later.

With 1:44 to play in the half, Latavius Murray took the first play 20 yards on a run up the middle. What might have been a drive that ended with Oakland taking a knee and a one-touchdown lead into the locker room turned into a two-minute drill. On the fifth and final play of the efficient possession, Derek Carr connected with Seth Roberts for the Raiders' second touchdown of the quarter to take a 17-3 lead.

It's the second time in three games Cleveland surrendered a touchdown in the final couple of minutes of the first half.

"It's very frustrating," defensive lineman John Hughes III said. "It's something we've got to work on in practice and get corrected."

2) About that 4th-down call...

Pettine didn't hesitate to send the offense, trailing 10-0, back on to the field when it faced fourth-and-goal at the 1 late in the second quarter.

"To me, the closer you get, the more likely I will be to go for it on fourth down with just the understanding that now you have a team backed up if you don't get it," Pettine said. "That was one where we felt we had a good play."

Browns quarterback Josh McCown agreed, saying Duke Johnson would have been wide open on a short pass. That made it all the more disappointing when the Browns were whistled for a false start and forced into kicking the short field goal.

3) Injuries on defense mounting

Defensive backs Tashaun Gipson (groin) and Joe Haden (ribs) briefly left Sunday's game with injuries. So did linebacker Craig Robertson, who hurt his ankle.

Haden said the X-rays were negative on his ribs.

Pettine said there would be more information on the players Wednesday.

The defense was already without three starters -- LB Scott Solomon (ankle), DL Desmond Bryant (shoulder) and DB K'Waun Williams (concussion) -- heading into Sunday's game. Pettine didn't use it as an excuse for the performance.

"We had to do some juggling, and I will be curious to see on the tape how it played out," Pettine said. "It was a big loss, losing K'Waun late in the week, but still, there were times where they were going good against good and they were making plays, especially early."

4) Great start, not quite the finish Browns run defense envisioned

The Raiders had 1 rushing yard at the end of the first quarter. Before Oakland's final possession of the first half, Cleveland limited the Raiders to 31 yards on 13 carries.

In the end, Oakland had 155 yards and an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Murray accounted for most of it on his way to a career-high 139 yards.

The Browns are allowing an average of more than 158 rushing yards per game this season.

"In the NFL, you have to be consistent," Pettine said. "You can't have the highs and the lows. You have to play well throughout a game."

5) Career day for TE Gary Barnidge

The scouting report read that Oakland was vulnerable against tight ends in the passing game, and Cleveland became the third team in a row to exploit it in a losing effort.

Barnidge had career highs in receptions (six) and receiving yards (105). He became the second tight end to clear 100 yards against the Raiders this season. All told, Oakland has given up 297 yards and four touchdowns to opposing starting tight ends.

"I was following the game plan," Barnidge said. "I think all the other guys that were running their routes were getting me open."

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