Maybe it was unfair to expect much from a team missing about 20 players.
But it was really difficult at times to watch the Cleveland Browns in their Monday evening game.
Cleveland’s defense came to play, holding another team under 20 points in what has become their norm.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t guaranteed victory for the Browns as often as you might expect.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 21, 2021
Las Vegas drove a dagger into the Browns’ heart with a display of what it’s like to have a reliable kicker.
Vegas successfully iced Chase Mclaughlin before halftime, but a timeout did not affect Daniel Carlson at all.
And that was what the final score came down to… one missed kick and one made kick.
Here are some of the studs and duds from the Browns’ loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Stud: Jovante Moffatt
Cleveland’s secondary was as battered by the Covid virus as any position room.
And Derek Carr had to expect his league-leading explosive play (20+ yards) total would climb significantly.
But Javonte Moffatt and the rest of the safeties and corners had other ideas.
Moffatt was all over the field Monday and got credit for 7 tackles (5 solo).
— Pro Football Culture (@proftblculture) December 20, 2021
Moffatt hasn’t seen 7 defensive snaps in most games this season.
But he made one of the highlight plays in this contest when he stopped Derek Carr on a third-and-goal.
Moffatt was deep in the end zone when Carr decided to take off and try to run the ball in.
But the Browns reserve safety flew in and made a textbook tackle with plenty of distance to spare.
Dud: Chase McLaughlin
Chase McLaughlin won the Browns kicker job by default after Cody Parkey went down in the preseason.
But he started the regular season making 10 straight field goals.
Parkey became a distant memory for Cleveland fans.
Until a familiar sound echoed across the field recently.
#Browns Mike Priefer on Chase McLaughlin missing the FG: "The expectation is to make those kicks in that kind of situation."
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) December 21, 2021
McLaughlin doesn’t “doink” as many kicks as his predecessor.
But since his quick start, he missed more field goals than he’s made.
And on Monday, he failed to pull the team within one score at halftime because he got iced.
And when the Browns lost by only 2 points, McLaughlin’s miss secured his status as a dud.
Stud: Greedy Williams
Greedy Williams’ comeback season continued against the Raiders.
His pair of passes defensed doesn’t begin to tell the story of how he shut down Las Vegas’ deep game.
Time and again, Carr’s target was well-covered and unable to secure a big play.
And more often than not, it was Greedy Williams locked onto the receiver.
This pick by @Greedy had the crowd hype!
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) December 21, 2021
But the play of the game should have been Williams interception with under 4 minutes to go in the game.
Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t run out the clock or even make a first down.
That left Carr with enough time to move his team into field goal position on his next chance.
And what could have been the most clutch defensive play of the season went for naught.
Dud: Alex Van Pelt
Fewer people will fight for Alex Van Pelt to call the offensive plays anymore.
And that tells you all you need to know about how the offense went Monday.
Even as Nick Chubb got on a roll and hit his usual 5-yards-per-carry in the second half, something was off.
And when Van Pelt called the predictable right zone run play on 3rd-and-3, he snuffed all life out of Browns Nation.
Umm Alex Van Pelt. That’s was a chance to win the game there bro! C’mon! #Browns
— Mike Coutee’ (@mikecoutee) December 21, 2021
At least we find Kevin Stefanski more believable now when he says his OC has a big hand in play-calling.
Because we saw the same ineffective “play-not-to-lose” mentality rule the day on that fateful series.
Van Pelt was fine to run the ball after Nick Chubb created 3 yards on his own the play before.
But a little imagination would have helped his star rusher a great deal.
Stud: Dustin Colquitt
There were a lot of Browns players who had a moment during this game.
It was a gutsy, if boring, performance highlighted by some good stops and key third-down conversions.
But the most consistent performer of the day might have been the Browns’ punter, Dustin Colquitt.
He mistakenly delivered his first punt right to Hunter Renfrow, who returned it 29 yards.
Dustin Colquitt still got it!!!
— Kickoff (@4th_and_Butker) December 21, 2021
But Renfrow managed only 2 more return yards on Colquitt’s next 6 punts.
Punting is a weird art form, and maybe it wasn’t anything Colquitt did.
But Renfrow put 2 punts on the ground, and let another take a quick hop out of bounds at the 4.
Colquitt’s 44.7-yard average might be enough to keep the veteran on the roster the rest of this season.
Dud: Donovan Peoples-Jones
If you only watched the second half of the Browns-Raiders game, you might expect DPJ to make the stud list.
But Cleveland needed to get off to a good start for Nick Mullens and the rest of the replacement players.
Mullens delivered the opportunity for such a start right into People-Jones’ hands.
And the usually trusty receiver let a backup cornerback smack it right out of his grasp.
Peoples-Jones saw the defender coming and pulled the ball in with two hands.
But his incompletion helped ground Cleveland’s offense to a halt.
DPJ struggled throughout the first half, finding it hard to shake off or win contested passes against Brandon Facyson.
And his improved play in the second half was too little, too late.