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Raiders buried in penalty flags in San Diego

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Donald Miralle

It was raining yellow laundry in San Diego today. But those golden showers were almost exclusively meant for the guys in Silver and Black. A total of 16 flags to be exact were thrown on the Raiders, 12 of which were accepted. Six of those penalties gave the Chargers a first down. The Chargers had fewer total flags thrown on them (3) than they declined on the Raiders (4).

This Raiders team is young and frustrated and looking at the likelihood of a six-game losing streak to finish the season. They also are trying to make plays to not head into the off-season with poor play hanging over their heads.

This isn't coming out of nowhere, though. It has simply been building to this. Last week they were called for ten penalties in a huge loss to the Chiefs. They also had ten penalties in a loss in Dallas in week 13. All told, they have averaged 8 penalties per game over the past six games and have now lost five in a row.

"I really think it boils down to guys are trying to press to make something happen and we're not sticking to our fundamentals and our technique like we need to," said Dennis Allen. "That's what happens when you don't stick to your fundamentals and your technique. A lot of the penalties that we're getting are during the play or at least a lot of them today were during the play. We just gotta go back to work on our fundamentals and work on that and continue to improve there."

"We had a bunch of offsides and things like that," said Woodson. "Just things you can't do. We shot ourselves in the foot all game long. That's how it's been all season. We have made costly mistakes in critical situations that have hurt the football team."

"They're all different," said Wisniewski. "It's not like it's the same call over and over. It's holding and then it's formation and then it's false start. It's just so many different things. I don't know that they're at all related. It's just one guy here is a little bit off and one guy here is just a little bit off. When you look at it we got however many penalties, ten or twelve or too many."

The penalties started early and plagued the Raiders throughout the game. Here's how they went down:

Raiders delay of game on third and five on first drive. Next play Tony Pashos illegal hands to the face, declined after Raiders failed to pick up first down.

Jason Hunter illegal hands to the face on Chargers' first drive on what would have been a sack. Two plays later, following a tackle for loss, Hunter was called for offsides. Chargers got a field goal on the drive.

Tracy Porter was called for holding on a play in which Rivers was pressured into an incompletion on third and eight.

Next Raiders possession, Jared Veldheer starts with a false start and two plays later is called for holding. It backs the Raiders up against their own goal line and Eric Weddle makes a leaping interception of a Matt McGloin pass at the 20-yard line.

On the ensuing series, Miles Burris was called for a very questionable roughing the passer penalty to put the Chargers in first and goal at the 7-yard line. I asked Burris about the play after the game.

"I thought I hit him as he was throwing it and I didn't have my head in it at all, so I'm not really sure where the flag came through on that," said Burris. "It is frustrating to an extent but you had to line up the next play and have a short memory and one-play mentality at that point. Nothing really you can do about it. Hopefully they'll take look at it and judge it. Again, I thought it was a clean hit but it's out of my hands."

The next play after the penalty, Charger running back Ryan Mathews ran seven yards for the touchdown to take the lead back at 10-7.

At that point, it was near the end of the second quarter and the Raiders had already seen ten flags thrown on them with three of them declined. Both of the Chargers scores were in some regard, assisted by Raiders penalties.

The following Raiders drive started with the first penalty flag thrown on the Chargers. It was for defensive pass interference.

To start the second half, Chimdi Chekwa was called for holding on third and six for another automatic first down surrendered.

The next penalty is one of the more frustrating ones for Dennis Allen. It was a killer too. After Mike Jenkins had made a big stop on a Ryan Mathews run, Jenkins got in his face and slapped the ball away. This drew a taunting penalty which carried 15 yards and set the Chargers up at the Raiders' 32-yard line.

The theme in the responses I received was all about Jenkins letting his emotions get the better of him in the heat of the moment and that he has to be smarter than that.

"It wasn't smart," Dennis Allen said of the taunting penalty by Jenkins. "Those are the plays that we can't have because they cost your football team. This guy in the heat of the moment did something emotional but we gotta be better than that. We can't do that on our team."

Charles Woodson had a similar reaction; "This is an emotional game and sometimes it gets the best of you and you do some things you shouldn't have done."

As did Miles Burris, although Burris chose a more positive approach; "The heat of the moment, the heat of the game that stuff happens sometimes. There's a lot of emotion involved and he was excited. I don't think he was trying to be a jerk. I know what kind of competitor Jenkins is and I'd ride with that guy any day. He makes plays, he brings passion and intensity."

The penalty was costly, but it wasn't the only flag he would yield on that drive. He was call for holding a few plays later which set the Chargers up with a first down in the red zone. A couple plays later, the Chargers scored their second touchdown.

The next flag was also very costly. Just after the Rod Streater touchdown catch that was ruled incomplete, McGloin went to Streater again for a long gain that would have set the Raiders up at the 5-yard line. It was called back by and illegal formation penalty.

To finish things off, with the Raiders in fourth and a half yard from the one yard line, Andre Holmes was called for a false start. It was then fourth and six and the Raiders were unable to score the touchdown and the game was over.

Things have unraveled for the Raiders now. While they didn't get routed by the Chargers, they still couldn't get out of their own way.

"I told the guys in the locker room that I thought we played hard, I didn't think we played smart," said Allen. "And that's what we have to be able to do. We've gotta play smarter. Penalties are gonna happen in the game but we can't have the not-smart penalties which cost your football team."

If you add up all the actual penalty yards (73) along with the yards they would have against them on penalties declined (25), yards gotten on drives kept alive by penalties on third down (82), and the yards negated by penalties (18), that's 198 yards lost from penalty and a touchdown. This team can't afford to lose that kind of yardage and expect to be competitive. Sunday, it was the very reason they were not.