The Raiders received their rude awakening Sunday when the Steelers gave them a 35-3 beating, and DT Richard Seymour put a blemish on his otherwise outstanding season in the loss.
After throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders in the second quarter, QB Ben Roethlisberger walked in Seymour's direction and appeared to say something to Seymour, who hit him in the facemask with an open hand, dropping Roethlisberger to the ground. Seymour was ejected.
It's expected that Seymour, who apologized to his teammates after the game, will at least be fined, and others say he could be suspended for a game. Steelers OLB James Harrison, who was fined earlier this season for a helmet-to-helmet hit, told reporters he doesn't see why Seymour shouldn't be suspended.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was more diplomatic. He wasn't too critical of Seymour and hinted that the officials didn't do a good job of maintaining control on the field.
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It was an all-round disappointing performance by the Raiders, who had won four of their last five games and hoped to prove that they were ready to compete with the league's best teams. Seymour's immature decision to swat Roethlisberger in the face stood out as one of the more disturbing low points, though.
Even if he does not get suspended, the fact that Seymour, a 10th-year veteran who knows what lines can't be crossed, would put himself in a position to face such discipline is remarkably foolish. Losing badly on the road to one of the league's best teams isn't ideal, but it's only one game. Seymour compounded the problem, and now it could result in Oakland being without one of its most valuable players for another game in the midst of a tight AFC West race.
In addition to sorting through Seymour's situation, Raiders head coach Tom Cable also has to be concerned about the safety of his quarterbacks against good pass-rushing teams like the Steelers. Pittsburgh sacked Jason Campbell four times before he was pulled in the third quarter — for playing poorly and perhaps also for his own well-being — for Bruce Gradkowski, who was sacked twice.
Cable already has said that Campbell will start in Week 12 against the Dolphins, who have one of the league's most dangerous pass rushers in OLB Cameron Wake.