Are the Raiders' penalty woes fixed?

October 31, 2012, 2:54 pm
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ALAMEDA -- The No. 1 matchup I wrote about, with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, heading into Sunday's game in Kansas City was this -- the Raiders against the Referees.Yeah, I know. Buying into that whole conspiracy thing, right?Well, as I wrote at the time, the Raiders averaged 4.7 penalties for 34 yards with the replacement officials but were averaging 8.7 penalties for 69.7 yards under the real refs. Facts. Simply facts.Then came Sunday.In the Raiders' 26-16 defeat of the Chiefs, Oakland was flagged twicefor 20 yards. Wait, what?The two penalties -- an illegal block above the waist on left tackle Jared Veldheer and a roughing the passer on defensive tackle Richard Seymour.In fact, a year after setting NFL single-season marks for penalties (163) and penalty yardage (1,358) while leading the NFL in penalties for a record 17th time, the Raiders are tied for 24th in the league with Buffalo. Both teams have 42 penalties in seven games (11 teams have played eight games). Plus, the Raiders are 27th in penalty yardage (331)."Fixed" might be too strong, but how has the Raiders' new regime made such an impact in such a relatively short time, especially after deposed coach Hue Jackson said non-stop he was going to "fix it" a year ago?"It's the players," insisted rookie coach Dennis Allen. "It's the players. We can preach the message and we'll continue to preach the same message day in and day out. That won't change. But really, as with most things that happen successfully on the football field, it's because the players understand that it correlates to winning and losing games. They've done a nice job of eliminating those things."At Atlanta, the Raiders were flagged 12 times for 110 yards. A week later against Jacksonville, they had nine penalties for 58 yards. The two penalties at Kansas City were the Raiders' fewest in a game since Oct. 3, 2010, when they also had two, for 23 yards, against Houston in Oakland.The Raiders play host to Tampa Bay on Sunday.
"And every week it's a different story," Allen continued. "So, the last two weeks we couldn't get them stopped, and this week we only had two. We've got to continue to fight that battle on a daily basis."