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Raiders refuse to answer the bell vs. Bengals

By Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Dayton Daily News/Cox News Service

CINCINNATI — The Oakland Raiders sleep-walked through the game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, falling behind 24-0 before imploding in a 34-10 thrashing at the hands of the suddenly red-hot Bengals.

The Raiders motto of "Just win baby" should have been replaced by "We're still on west coast time baby."

In the Raiders locker room after the game players were in a daze. Big C logo

Safety Mike Mitchell, Ohio University alumni, could be seen slumped over in front of his locker with his head buried in his hands. He was in an obvious state of disbelief.

"I'm stunned," Mitchell said. "Our game plan coming in was to stop the run and deep shots to [A.J.] Green. We did neither. We spotted them 24 points in the first half. You can't start a game like that against a well-coached and good football team and expect to win. We need to get our act together."

The Raiders defense allowed running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis to rack up 129 yards and a touchdown with runs of 48 and 39 yards — the longest of his career — to set up scores. Green, on the other hand, caught three passes for 111 yards receiving. While keying on the Pro Bowler, rookie wide receiver Mohamed Sanu had two receiving touchdowns against the benevolent defense. Oakland's defense has given up 169 points in its last four contests.

Mitchell acknowledges that the team didn't play well and believes poor officiating hurt them as well. The play in question came in the fourth quarter on an apparent fumble by Sanu on third-and-six that was ruled dead due to an inadvertent whistle by the side judge.

"The call was ridiculous and probably the worst I've seen since being in the NFL," Mitchell said. "There is no way a team should get five downs to get a first down. I don’t care what the rules say, that was horrible. Here we thought the replacement refs were gone, horrible."

The Bengals retained possession on the call and things got a little testy after that. On the very next play, a melee broke out that ended with Andrew Whitworth, Lamarr Houston and Tommy Kelly being ejected from the game. Mitchell spoke like a throwback Oakland defender from the 70's and 80's when describing the incident.

"One of their guys [Whitworth] tried to get tough," he said. "This is the wrong team to get tough with. No one is going to bully us. We're always prepared to fight. I think we showed that fight trying to get back into the game."

If good teams find ways to win, then bad teams must find more ways to lose.

Oakland (3-8) has lost a season-high four consecutive games and played terrible against Cincinnati. Team general manager Reggie McKenzie sat nearby in the press box with binoculars in hand and disgusted look on his face watching the performance. Undoubtedly, changes will be made based on the season but the team must take steps to improve under current states.

"We have to stop talking about it and be about it," Mitchell said. "When we decide that we're going to do all the right things from the top of the organization to the bottom we’ll be alright."