A blowout loss to Pittsburgh to end a three-game winning streak was bad enough for the Oakland Raiders.
At least they know they won’t be without stalwart defensive tackle Richard Seymour this week following his ejection for hitting Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the helmet.
The NFL announced Monday that Seymour would be fined $25,000 for his actions in the second quarter of Oakland’s 35-3 loss at Pittsburgh. But there was no suspension.
Coach Tom Cable said before the punishment was announced that Seymour knows he made a poor decision and that his team needs to do a better job maintaining its discipline, even in a physical game like the one Sunday.
”He texted me last night and feels bad about it and knows he was wrong, and we’ll move forward,” Cable said Monday.
The infraction happened late in the second quarter after Roethlisberger threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders to give Pittsburgh a 21-3 lead. As Seymour was jawing with some of the Steelers offensive linemen, Roethlisberger ran up and appeared to say something before Seymour hit him with an open hand in the jaw.
Roethlisberger fell to the ground, but was not injured and stayed in the game. Seymour was given a personal foul and was ejected.
”All the offensive linemen, as well as some of us, were getting chippy because they were chipping after the whistle,” Oakland linebacker Quentin Groves said. ”As Ben goes and tries and break the fight up, Richard reacts. That’s just a reaction that a fighter has, and that’s what he is, a fighter. To react like that is just a basic combination.”
Some of the Raiders said they were upset with the call, saying it was a physical game with chippy play from both sides. Pittsburgh was called for 14 penalties for 163 yards, including six personal fouls.
”I don’t like the ejection,” safety Mike Mitchell said. ”I’ll say that. That’s frustrating. They were doing stuff to us, they just caught the one act that we do, and they want to throw a guy out. Which I think is huge. He’s one of our better players, a leader on our team. We want to turn everything into a street fight and we didn’t win it. So shame on us.”
Seymour was not available for comment Monday but after the game he said he felt bad for letting down his team. He would not divulge what Roethlisberger said to provoke him, calling his response a ”natural reaction.”
With the league cracking down hard on illegal hits, the Raiders were not sure how harsh a punishment Seymour would receive. He was punished twice by the league last season, getting a $7,500 fine for pulling the hair of Denver offensive lineman Ryan Clady and being docked $10,000 for hitting an opponent after the play in a game at Cleveland.
Now that the Raiders have learned Seymour’s fate, they can start looking ahead to Sunday’s game against Miami. They expressed confidence that the blowout loss won’t set the team back to the way it was before running off the successive wins against Denver, Seattle and Kansas City to move into a tie for first place this late in the season for the first time since 2002.
”The biggest thing you’ve got to do is get it behind us,” Cable said. ”We all feel mad as hell about what happened yesterday. I don’t think we feel sorry for ourselves or anything like that, which is good. So it’s time to move on. We’ve got Miami coming in here. There’s a lot that we’re playing for in these last six weeks.”
Oakland was unable to generate much of anything offensively after scoring 115 points in winning their previous three games. The Raiders got a field goal on their opening drive and nothing the rest of the way in their lowest scoring game since being shut out against the New York Jets in October 2009.
Even a mid-game quarterback change couldn’t help Oakland’s cause. Starter Jason Campbell was just 7 for 19 for 70 yards and an interception, getting sacked four times.
Bruce Gradkowski, who had missed the previous four games with a separated right shoulder, replaced Campbell in the third quarter and completed 13 of 24 passes for 98 yards, one interception and was sacked twice. Cable is sticking with Campbell as his starter this week.
The biggest issue was Oakland’s inability to handle the Steelers on the line of scrimmage as evidenced by the six sacks and season-low 61 yards rushing on 16 carries. The Raiders entered the game second in the league in rushing, having gained at least 110 yards on the ground every week.
Darren McFadden, who entered the game averaging a league-leading 108.1 yards per game, was held to just 14 yards on 10 carries.
”It was just one of those things where we didn’t get going,” he said. ”They came out swinging and it seemed like we kind of balled up when they were swinging and we didn’t respond to the punch they threw at us.”
Notes: Cable confirmed that DE Trevor Scott has a torn left ACL. He would not say if Oakland would sign a player immediately to replace him. … CB Nnamdi Asomugha (sprained right ankle) and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) are improved after missing the game.