Oakland Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer returned to play the Cincinnati Bengals, where he spent seven years. It has a tough homecoming for Palmer as the Raiders were defeated 34-10. However, the game could have been different if it weren't for a few botched calls that cost Oakland dearly.
The first bad call came when the Raiders were trailing 27-10 in the third quarter. Palmer completed a pass to fullback Marcel Reece for a 12 yard gain. The officials called a clipping penalty on guard Mike Brisiel, but it was clear that Brisiel tripped and did not make contact on the defender. The second call that hurt Oakland came on the next Bengals drive. Facing a third and six, Andy Dalton completed a pass short of the first down to Mohamed Sanu. Raiders cornerback Joselio Hanson forced a fumble, then had the presence of mind to keep the ball in bounds. Safety Tyvon Branch scooped the fumble and returned it for a touchdown. However, one of the referees blew his whistle inadvertently and the Bengals were allowed to replay the down and converted on a 48 yard pass to A.J. Green.
After the officials made a mistake with the inadvertent whistle the game got out of hand. On the next play, the Bengals were flagged for a false start. Raiders' defensive end Lamaar Houston continued to play and tackled Dalton. Cincinnati's Andrew Whitworth took exception and shoved Houston, starting an altercation between the two teams. Whitworth, Houston, and Oakland defensive tackle Tommy Kelly were all ejected.
The officiating was not the only reason the Raiders lost their fourth straight game. It is becoming a reoccurring theme that the team comes out lethargic and gives up early deficits. The Bengals scored on their first possession when running back Benjarvus Green-Ellis broke a 48 yard run right through the middle of the Oakland defense. He was ruled down at the one and two plays later punched in a one yard touchdown to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead. It was the longest run of Green-Ellis' career.
Offensively the Raiders struggled particularly in the first half. They did not move the ball passed the Cincinnati 39 yard line, punted four times, turned the ball over on downs, and Palmer threw an interception. Meanwhile, Dalton connected twice with Sanu for touchdowns of two and five yards to expand the Bengal's lead to 21-0. Mike Nugent added a 55 yard field goal just before the half to put the Raiders in a 24-0 hole.
In the third quarter, a quarter that has haunted Oakland all season, the team came to life. Palmer connected with wide receiver Denarius Moore on a 20 yard touchdown pass. Palmer lofted the pass while backing up to avoid pressure and Moore stretched his arms and brought in the score with his fingertips. That touchdown cut the lead to 24-10. The Raiders defense forced four consecutive three and outs and held Cincinnati without a point in the quarter.
That would be the closest the Raiders pulled because of the blown calls and the Bengals offense making a few plays. They added another field goal and Dalton hit Jermaine Gresham for a seven yard touchdown to extend the lead to 34-10. Dalton finished with 210 yards and three touchdowns. Green-Ellis rushed 19 times for 129 yards and a touchdown. Oakland tried and succeeded in keeping elite wide receiver A.J. Green out of the endzone. Green had a touchdown reception in the previous nine games. He did finish with three receptions for 111 yards.
The Oakland offense that had been putting up large numbers, but Sunday they crashed back to Earth. Palmer finished 19-34 for just 146 yards a touchdown and an interception. He lost a fumble and was sacked four times due to poor pass protection. Reece filled in for the injured Darren McFadden and combined for 103 total yards. In all three of his starts this season he was gone over 100 total rushing and receiving yards.
The Raiders drop to 3-8 with the loss and ensure they will not have a winning season for the tenth straight year. The Bengals improve to 6-5 and are right in the AFC playoff race.
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