OAKLAND - They weren't the records the Raiders hoped to break this year, but by the end of Sunday's 38-26 loss to San Diego, they were in the books. The 2011 squad established new NFL marks for penalties and penalty yardage, finishing with 163 for 1,358 yards and breaking the standards established by the 1998 Chiefs, who were flagged 158 times for 1,304 yards.
The yardage record fell first, when safety Matt Giordano was called for a personal foul for blasting a defenseless receiver, San Diego's Vincent Jackson, on the first drive of the game. The penalty mark fell on the opening kickoff of the second half, as Rock Cartwright was whistled for a hold.
Asked whether the penalty total is one reason the Raiders missed the playoffs, coach Hue Jackson said, "There's no question it is. There were a couple other games that maybe you win. There's a couple times that maybe you get them off the field if you don't have the penalties. It's a problem. That's not why we lost today, but that is a problem on this football team. There's some work that has to be done."
Many Raiders fans, and players, are convinced there is a vast NFL conspiracy against the team that Al Davis built. Others acknowledge the problem is within the locker room.
"I'm confident that when we stop the dumb stuff, there ain't nobody that's gonna beat us," safety Mike Mitchell said. "What's gonna be the catalyst that makes us stop it and say no more penalties, no more stupid plays, mental errors, things of that nature? I don't know. I think a loss like this ... this is something that sticks with you till you die."
ANOTHER NORV FAREWELL
It was like 2005 all over again. Norv Turner was coaching the final game of the season, with rumors swirling that he was about to be fired. The only differences: This time, he was on the San Diego sideline rather than the Raiders' - and this time he won.
It probably won't be enough to save Turner, who has gone 52-34 with the Chargers but missed the playoff the past two years, despite what many analysts feel is one of the most talented rosters in the NFL.
Asked about his job status after the game, Turner replied: "I don't need to answer that, because there's going to be a decision made and we'll all know what it is, and what my opinion right now is probably doesn't have a lot of effect. I'll leave it at that."
HE SAID, HE SAID
One of the low points for the Raiders came just before halftime. They had driven into San Diego territory and, with time running out, Carson Palmer hit Louis Murphy with a short pass at the 32-yard line. The Oakland place-kicking unit had 11 seconds to line up for a field-goal attempt, and couldn't do it.
Afterward, Jackson and Palmer seemed to have different explanations for the breakdown.
"Communication," Jackson said. "... Wanted to throw it into the boundary, he didn't get it, threw it to Louis. Obviously, we were trying to run the field-goal team out, and he was trying to clock it. So when the thing snaps on the 14, you can't get things communicated."
Palmer blamed referee Clete Blakeman for slipping and dropping the ball.
"Had things gone smoothly, we would have snapped it and had at least three seconds," he said.
"There was an issue with getting the ball back to the center and waiting and waiting and waiting, and the guy picks the ball up and slips and falls and drops the ball, and wastes a couple of seconds."
Carson Palmer's 417 passing yards were the third-most in Raiders history, behind only Jeff Hostetler (424 against San Diego in 1993) and Cotton Davidson (419 vs. Denver in 1964).
The Raiders officially landed at No.17 in the draft order. As it stands, they won't select until the fifth round, having traded away their high picks.
Chargers LB Antwan Barnes was thrown out of the game after making contact with an official in the first quarter.
Oakland's statistical leaders for 2011 include Palmer (2,753 passing yards, 13 TDs), Michael Bush (977 rushing yards), Darrius Heyward-Bey (975 receiving yards), Sebastian Janikowski (129 points), Matt Giordano (five interceptions) and Tommy Kelly (7? sacks).