A day later, Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour was still confused by the flags which seemingly outnumbered the snowflakes at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
The Raiders were hit with 13 penalties for 126 yards. The only time they had more penalties was 14 against Washington, and the 126 yards was a season high, topping 188 against the Redskins.
The yardage figure was, in fact, the highest for the Raiders since they drew 16 penalties for 149 yards in the 2005 season opener in New England.
It appeared as if officials sensed the game getting out of hand and then resorted to penalties in an attempt to get it back under control.
“That’s how I felt. I’ve never seen flags thrown like that,” Seymour said, apparently not remembering the 2005 season opener when he was on the other side of the field. “It was so ticky-tack. Obviously we have to understand how the game is being played and how the game is being called and play accordingly. We didn’t do a good job of that after we understood that they were going to throw it if you looked the wrong way.”
Seymour was responsible for back-to-back penalties during the Browns’ 93-yard scoring drive near the end of the half. The first, for unnecessary roughness, was offset by an unnecessary roughness call on Browns’ guard Rex Hadnot.
Seymour, however, protested and earned an addtional 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“ I asked him a question like, ‘Why did you throw it on me?’ He didn’t even know he called (it on) me,” Seymour said. “The ref didn’t know what number is was supposed to be on. It was a bunch of mess.
“I guess he just tried to figure out who he wanted to throw it on. I was the lucky number, which I’ve never seen anything like that in all my days of playing.”
Regarding the original scuffle which broughton the first flag, Seymour said, “There’s always little tussles. It’s part of football, you know? And you never want to go out and do anything to hurt your team or give your team bad field position. I could understand, well, if you hit the quarterback late, that’s a reason for a late flag. Or if they’re protecting quarterback, or if it’s a late hit on a guy. But if me and you get into a jawing match, I don’t feel like that’s an excuse for a personal foul or anything like that.
“But I thought all game long, once we understood how the game was being called, that’s when we should have backed off and said, hey, let’s just keep our mouth shut and play ball.”
Tight end Tony Stewart, one of two ejections along with Stanford Routt, was tossed for bumping official. Replays didn’t show it, nor did the Raiders’ team copy of the game, according to Stewart.
Stewart said he was double-teaming the Browns’ Alex Hall on a kickoff return and was punched in the face by Hall.
“I’d give them one percent chance that they couldn’t have seen the play, seen that happen. I was saying to the refs, ‘You didn’t see that? You didn’t see him punch me in the face? You’re not going to throw a flag?’ And the ref came up to me and put his hand on my chest and started pushing me,” Stewart said. “I just swiped his hand off my chest. Just a natural reaction.”
Stewart, one of the more professional and even-keeled Raiders players, was stunned to find himself out of the game.
“I was just in utter disbelief,” Stewart said. “In the locker room it was like almost comical because if I could have told you what was going to happen from last week to this week, that wasn’t one of the things I would have said.”
The worst call may have been a taunting call on Zach Miller, who merely dropped the ball to the ground after a 31-yard completion. It ended up not hurting anything, as a later pass interference penalty on the Browns put the Raiders in scoring position anyway.
Following the game, Seymour talked about the “Raider mystique,” the implication they got a raw deal simply because they’re the Raiders.
Defensive end Greg Ellis said the Raiders had demonstrated to officials they were an undisciplined team and were treated in kind the rest of the afternoon.
“I have to say we did it to ourselves because we put the referees on guard against us,” defensive end Greg Ellis said. “When we do it to ourselves, the ref looks like, ‘You know what? We’re fed up with these guys.’ Any questionable call …”
More to come . . .