The Raiders need to stop letting the referees get in their way.
Janikowski had one of his worst days as a professional on Sunday as he missed three field goals, two of which were well within his range and one that was nothing more than a chip shot. This, however, was not the only area in which the Oakland Raiders struggled against the Cardinals.
If Janikowski had made even one of those field goals, the Raiders would have won. Janikowski, however, was not the only person to blame for the loss. The Raiders squandered a number of scoring opportunities and settled for field goals when they needed touchdowns.
Besides the missed field goals, the worst part of the Raiders' loss was their shocking lack of discipline, as Oakland finished the game with 11 penalties for 123 yards.
One of those penalties moved the Raiders from a goal to go at the one-yard line to a goal to go at the five-yard line. That series resulted in a field goal rather than a touchdown. That penalty cost the Raiders four points, as I find it hard to believe that they would not have been able to pound the ball in from the one-yard line.
At least two of those penalties were pass interference penalties that gave the inept Cardinals offense huge chunks of yards and helped lead them to points. With the way the Raiders defense was playing on Sunday, I would find it hard to believe that the Cardinals would have put up anywhere near as many points if not for the abundance of penalties.
The penalties on Sunday would have kept Oakland out of the game if it were not for the fact that the Cardinals are the second worst team in penalty yards per game in the NFL and had their share of penalties on Sunday as well.
As bad as the penalties were against the Cardinals, they should not have been a surprise to anyone who has been watching the Oakland Raiders this season.
The Raiders have suffered 33 penalties for 290 yards in the first three games of the season. They are last in the league in average number of penalties per game, at 11, and last in the league at penalty yards per game, with 96.7.
Really think about that for a second. The Raiders' opponents are essentially given one full football field worth of yards every game. Many of the best teams in the NFL would not be able to overcome an advantage like that.
Last season, the Raiders finished the season with 6.9 penalties per game and 53.1 penalty yards per game. That made the Raiders 29th in the league in penalties per game and 25th in the league in penalty yards per game.
Penalties were a big problem last year and the Raiders are off to a much worse start this year.
There are certainly times where it appears as though the Raiders are targeted by the referees considering how bad some of the calls are. However, fans of every team probably feel the exact same way.
And, even if the Raiders are targeted by the referees, when you play with discipline and do not make mistakes, it becomes very difficult for the referees to make a difference in the game.
There are problems with the team that the Raiders will not be able to fix this season. The offensive line is one of the worst in the league, and they need more depth at wide receiver and cornerback. However, there are things that the Raiders can address in order to get better now, and penalties is one of them.
Tom Cable and the Raiders coaching staff need to address this problem immediately if they still have hopes of a winning season. The Raiders will certainly not be able to win against a team like the Houston Texans next week with as many penalties as they had against the Cardinals.