It's bad enough when you are a mediocre team. We can acknowledge that with the 2012 Oakland Raiders. And the Raiders fell behind 24-0 largely due to their own deficiencies as a football team.
But having scored 10 unanswered points, the Raiders were driving to further cut into the Cincinnati Bengals' lead when a clipping penalty was called on Mike Brisiel. Instead of a first down at around the Cincinnati 30, it was 1st-and-20 at midfield.
Almost on cue, Carson Palmer was stripped, Cincinnati recovered and scored a field goal. They would win 34-10, but not before another call was made depriving the Raiders of a nice play. An apparent fumble on a 3rd-and-6 was nicely kept in play by Joselio Hanson and recovered by Tyvon Branch for a touchdown return.
Well, it was apparent to everyone but the officiating crew assigned. Instead of the touchdown, it was ruled an inadvertent whistle and no play. Cincinnati would score and make it 34-10, which would be the final score.
However, between those plays was the first sign of life I have seen from the silver and black since the game in Kansas City. After a false start, Lamarr Houston finished the play and brought Andy Dalton down. Was it a bit late? Yes. Was it a 'dirty play'? Absolutely not.
Well, Cincinnati tackle Andrew Whitworth took exception and accosted Houston, which set off a fracas between the teams that ironically had former Raiders head coach and current Cincinnati assistant Hue Jackson trying to play peacemaker. It was the culmination of a frustrating day that saw the Raiders beaten by a better team, but piled on by a shoddy officiating crew.
Unfortunately, falling behind 24-0 in the first half mutes much of what should be said about what the officiating did in this game. The reaction will likely be along the lines of 'well, they were going to lose anyway,' which is totally beside the point. This is beyond awful. Where is the accountability that was supposed to be in place?
Anyway, the Raiders struggled on both sides of the ball, allowing 415 yards on defense (including 221 on the ground) and only gaining 218 on offense. Carson Palmer's return to his former team was utterly forgettable, as he threw for just 146 yards and was sacked four times. They just looked listless until the fight between Houston and Wentworth. The same problems were in place—no pass rush, completely inconsistent offensively and porous on defense.
Sadly, this team is relegated to playing out the string. I don't see much value in winning any more games. The higher this team can draft, the better. The cupboard is much more bare than I think most Raiders fans wanted to acknowledge, and the task of getting things back in order is likely going to take much more than just next offseason.
That said, I think it is about time to see some of Terrelle Pryor. And hopefully Jack Crawford. Tony Bergstrom has struggled when he has played, Miles Burris has been okay, but not spectacular, and Juron Criner is just now getting opportunities at wide receiver. The Raiders have to start seeing who they have and who can go forward.