After watching Denver coach Mike Shanahan use that same strategy to beat his Raiders in overtime last week, Kiffin figured he'd try it himself.
"The rookie coach learned something from the veteran last week," Raiders receiver Ronald Curry said. "He called a timeout at the end and Tommy made a great block on the kick."
Derek Anderson had driven the Browns (1-2) from their 9 to the Oakland 23 in the final 1:04 without a timeout to set up Dawson's 40-yard try. That's when Kiffin told the official his plan.
"I told him I was going to call it, and he gave me the 'You're going to have to give me the signal,"' Kiffin said. "I guess I don't have as many years in the league as Mike. I got it in a second later than I wanted, but it worked out."
Like Sebastian Janikowski in last week's 23-20 overtime loss for Oakland, Dawson split the uprights with the kick that did not count.
His attempt when it did was low and blocked by Kelly, setting off a midfield celebration by the Raiders.
"I actually didn't hear the timeout or the whistle," Dawson said. "I thought we had won the game. They did a good job of waiting until the last second to call the timeout."
Kiffin, the NFL's youngest coach in more than four decades at age 32, got his first win.
McCown threw a 41-yard TD pass to Curry in the first half and Janikowski made all four field goal attempts after missing four the first two weeks. That includes last week's potential game-winner from 52 yards after Shanahan's timely timeout.
"They don't ask you how you get them done, they just ask did you," Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "We're a ballclub that is trying to learn how to win. Last week, we took a step closer and this week we got over the hump."
The late-game dramatics overshadowed another big performance by Jordan, who has 350 yards rushing after three games. He carried nine times on an 80-yard drive after Cleveland had taken the lead, and put Oakland back on top 23-17 with a 1-yard run late in the third quarter.
Jordan also went 27 yards on a screen pass on third-and-23 to set up Janikowski's 48-yard field goal that made it 26-17 midway through the fourth.
"It feels good. It's a good start," Jordan said. "My name will be the one in the headlines, but I'm happy for my offensive linemen. Those guys took a beating last year."
The Raiders defense made Anderson look ordinary a week after tying a team record with five TD passes in a 51-45 win over Cincinnati. Anderson was intercepted twice in the first half and finished 18-for-37 for 248 yards and a touchdown. He scored on a 1-yard run with 3:33 remaining to cut Oakland's lead to 26-24.
"We played terribly offensively," Anderson said. "We made a lot of mistakes. It's disappointing."
The Browns trailed 16-0 before getting a 99-yard kick return for a score from Joshua Cribbs late in the first half and a 21-yard TD pass to Braylon Edwards midway through the third quarter to take a 17-16 lead. It wasn't enough as the Raiders outgained Cleveland 186-88 on the ground, holding Jamal Lewis to 56 yards.
"Offensively, we couldn't get untracked," coach Romeo Crennel said. "Defensively, we couldn't stop them. They threw it, they ran it. We couldn't stop the run no matter what front we happened to be in. We were out of position a lot."
Culpepper led a methodical 15-play drive that gave Oakland the lead, getting a 3-yard run by Jordan on fourth-and-1. Culpepper completed both his passes on the drive and drew penalties on two more throws. Culpepper finished 8-for-14 for 118 yards.
"I felt good the more plays I got, the more comfortable I was getting, just getting back to playing the game," Culpepper said. "I feel very comfortable in this offense now. Being here every day and not having to go out and play at first gave me the opportunity to really absorb it."
Kiffin said he would wait to decide who would start next week against Miami, the team that cut Culpepper in July.
Raiders fans made their preference for Culpepper known, booing McCown after he was sacked on the first play and cheering when he left for one play late in the first quarter after getting nicked up. McCown finished the first half but was replaced by Culpepper in the second half because of a sore left foot.
- Cribbs had two long kick returns last year against Oakland, taking one back 65 yards and another for 53 yards to help Cleveland win 24-21.
- Raiders LB Kirk Morrison, who had two INTs his first two years, has three so far this season.
- Raiders Hall of Fame center Jim Otto, who had his right leg amputated earlier this year, attended the game.