LOSING TO THE Cleveland Browns isn't the most pathetic part. Nor are the Raiders' complaints about unfair officiating.
What makes Sunday's 23-9 loss so utterly disgusting is the way the Raiders earned their 10th defeat this season.
Bad quarterbacking. Bad receiving. Bad coaching. Bad discipline. And don't dare forget the bad defense that too often gets overlooked.
That wicked combination makes up the familiar theme in the Raiders' seven consecutive seasons of double-digit defeats.
Even if the Raiders have a case that officials indeed picked on them — and some of their 13 penalties for a season-high 126 yards seemed bogus — that doesn't excuse the gaffes that keep this franchise stuck at square one.
The Man Back Home should be furious. The Man Back Home should be cuing up the overhead projector. That man is Raiders czar Al Davis, who skipped the final road trip for a second straight season so his son/heir Mark Davis could sit in his seat on the team charter.
None of Sunday's shenanigans should have surprised Davis or anyone else. These Raiders (5-10) beat teams they have no business beating, and they lose to those they should cold-cock.
Vents about the officials make for entertaining locker-room interviews. But that whining won't solve the Raiders' glaring issues, as if they still haven't learned nearly eight years after the "Tuck Rule"
Instead, Davis' vice is to blame the coach. Tom Cable may have earned his pink slip with this one.
Cable's team spun out of control midway through the second quarter. His players found themselves in a melee, first with the Browns and then with the officials.
Defensive lineman Richard Seymour, Davis' prized offseason acquisition, was in the middle of the turmoil. For what, Seymour had no clue. So when he asked why he drew an unnecessary roughness penalty along with Browns guard Rex Hadnot, Seymour got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct (essentially a technical foul, in NBA parlance).
"The (officials') intensity was all directed toward us. Maybe it's the Raider mystique," Seymour said. —... Obviously we felt we had to beat everybody today, not just those guys on the field. I felt the refs were just so biased. It wasn't even fair."
Drawing back-to-back penalties between snaps is something Seymour said he's never seen in his nine years in the NFL. Quick history lesson, Richard: Warren Sapp got booted after drawing back-to-back-to-back penalties in the Raiders' December 2007 loss at Jacksonville.
Seymour didn't get ejected, but two Raiders did later in this game, including cornerback Stanford Routt for a "flagrant" head butt two plays after the melee. The Browns capped that 93-yard drive with a Derek Anderson touchdown pass that put them ahead 17-6 with 18 seconds left in the first half.
The Raiders reclaimed some momentum on Sebastian Janikowski's team-record 61-yard field goal to end the half, his third field goal of the game and his team's final points.
Overall, the Raiders offense chased its tail all day. Three interceptions offset Charlie Frye's career-best 333 yards passing. Frye's first throw got caught by a flat-footed linebacker and set up the Browns' first touchdown. The other two interceptions unforgivably came in the Browns' red zone.
Hence, the Raiders didn't score a touchdown for the fourth time this season, and Frye's audition should end here. JaMarcus Russell should get the last start against Baltimore, to see if he's worthy of another chance in 2010.
The most maddening sequence by Cable, Frye & Co. came in the final five minutes. They had first-and-goal at the Browns' 2-yard line. The result: Incompletion, incompletion, incompletion (initially ruled an interception until Cable won a replay challenge) and incompletion.
The Dawg Pound must have eaten Cable's play card regarding short-yardage runs. Of the Raiders' 16 snaps in which they needed 4 yards or less for a first down, they passed on all 16, getting a first down on only six.
Why not rush on short-yardage situations when you're averaging 4.6 yards per carry? Why not let Michael Bush bull 2 yards into the end zone?
Such offensive buffoonery again overshadowed the Raiders' shoddy defense. Linebacker Kirk Morrison gets caught out of position way too often, though he did force a fumble at the Raiders' 4-yard line in the third quarter.
The Browns' 31st-ranked offense got away with too much. That includes Jerome Harrison's 148 yards rushing (on a Browns-record 39 carries). And that includes rookie center Alex Mack not getting ejected despite punching Raiders defensive tackle Gerard Warren.
"He grazed my face mask, right in front of the umpire," Warren said. "But that's how the cookie crumbles."
Crumble. What a perfect word to describe what is still happening to Davis' franchise, with or without him there to witness it.