CINCINNATI The Raiders need a better team or a better alarm clock.
The Cincinnati Bengals spoiled the homecoming of quarterback Carson Palmer on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, as Oakland sleepwalked its way to another inescapable hole in the Eastern time zone. After rolling to a 24-0 halftime lead, the Bengals cruised to a 34-10 victory.
"Obviously, we didn't come out and start the game the right way," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "We came in at halftime, made a couple of adjustments. I thought the guys played harder and competed."
It was the ninth straight loss for the Raiders in the Eastern time zone, dating to a 27-24 win in Pittsburgh on Dec. 6, 2009.
The Raiders (3-8) staged a rare uprising in the third quarter. In a period during which they had been outscored 123-34 entering the game, Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 55-yard field goal, and Palmer found Denarius Moore for a 20-yard touchdown pass while the defense was suddenly stifling the Bengals.
Cincinnati, with 289 yards at halftime, had four straight three-and-outs in the third quarter.
Things got interesting enough for fans to temporarily stop booing Palmer, who walked away from the Bengals after the 2010 season and eventually was traded to the Raiders, and instead encourage the Cincinnati defense.
"I don't know (what changed), but it's not enough," Palmer said. "You can't play one good quarter of football. It has got to change."
Natural order was restored when a strip-sack of Palmer by Manny Lawson led to a 20-yard Mike Nugent field goal, and a potential 25-yard fumble return by Tyvon Branch evaporated with an "inadvertent whistle" to eventually set up a seven-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Jermaine Gresham.
"They came in, made their corrections, and they really got after us," Lawson said. "That's what this league is all about. We had to go back to what we were doing, not reinvent stuff, and really just play football."
The Raiders had good reason to feel wronged. Joselio Hanson made a beautiful strip of Mohamed Sanu and batted the ball back inbound. Without the whistle, the Raiders conceivably would have had the score, or at least possession of the ball.
Instead, the Bengals by rule had the option of taking the ball where the play was ruled dead or taking the down over. One play later, after a Cincinnati false start, Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth got into it with Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston, who had hit Dalton on the play.
It precipitated a scrum that resulted in Whitworth, Houston and Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly being ejected.
"From the point of the turnover, or whatever you want to call it, it kind of went downhill after that," Allen said.
None if it changed the obvious. A horrendous start was the main culprit for a fourth straight loss, which hadn't happened since Tom Cable was the coach in 2008.