CINCINNATI -- The Raiders need a better team or a better alarm clock.
The Cincinnati Bengals spoiled the homecoming of quarterback Carson Palmer on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, as Oakland sleepwalked its way to another inescapable hole in the Eastern time zone. After rolling to a 24-0 halftime lead, the Bengals cruised to a 34-10 victory.
"Obviously we didn't come out and start the game the right way," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "We came in at halftime, made a couple of adjustments. I thought the guys played harder and competed."
It was the ninth straight loss for the Raiders in the Eastern time zone, dating to a 27-24 win in Pittsburgh on Dec. 6, 2009.
The Raiders (3-8) staged a rare uprising in the third quarter. In a period during which they had been outscored 123-34 entering the game, Sebastian Janikowski kicked a 55-yard field goal and Palmer found Denarius Moore for a 20-yard touchdown pass while the defense was suddenly stifling the Bengals.
Cincinnati, with 289 yards at halftime, had four straight three-and-outs in the third quarter.
Things got interesting enough for fans to temporarily stop booing Palmer, who walked away from the Bengals after the 2010 season and eventually was traded to the Raiders, and instead give encouragement to the Cincinnati defense.
"I don't know (what changed), but it's not enough,'' Palmer said. "You can't play one good quarter of football. It has got to change."
"They came in, made their corrections and they really got after us," Lawson said. "That's what this league is all about. We had to go back to what we were doing, not reinvent stuff and really just play football.''
The Raiders had good reason to feel wronged -- Joselio Hanson made a beautiful strip of Mohamed Sanu, batted the ball back in bounds, and without the whistle it's conceivable the Raiders would have had the score, or at least possession of the ball.
Instead, the Bengals by rule got the option of taking the ball where the play was ruled dead or taking the down over. One play later, after a Cincinnati false start, Bengals tackle Andrew Whitworth got into it with Raiders defensive end Lamarr Houston, who hit Dalton on the play.
It precipitated a scrum that resulted in Whitworth, Houston and Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly all getting ejected.
"From the point of the turnover, or whatever you want to call it, it kind of went downhill after that," Allen said.
None if it changed the obvious. A horrendous start was the main culprit for a fourth straight loss, which hasn't happened since Tom Cable was coach in 2008.
Cincinnati (6-5) got a handful of big plays that set up 2- and 5-yard touchdown passes from Dalton to Sanu, plus a 1-yard touchdown run by BenJarvis Green-Ellis, who had 129 yards on 19 carries.
The half ended with Nugent kicking a 55-yard field goal.
"We can't start like that. We can't win games like that," cornerback Ron Bartell said. "We've got to figure out what it is we did in the second half and carry it over to the beginning of the game.''
In the first half, Green-Ellis had a run of 48 yards, Cedric Peerman had a 31-yard run and Dalton had completions of 44 yards to A.J. Green and 27 yards to Gresham.
"I really don't know what happened," cornerback Michael Huff said. "I know they had a couple of big runs, a couple of big passes. It's not like they were driving. It was a big play here, a big play there. We need to eliminate the big play and start faster somehow."
The Raiders offense played its role in the first-half no-show by failing to cross midfield until the second quarter. Then when they made their deepest penetration to the Cincinnati 39, a Palmer pass thrown slightly behind Marcel Reece glanced off the receiver's hands to Bengals defensive back Chris Crocker.
Crocker returned the interception 29 yards to set up Nugent's field goal at the end of the half.
The Raiders finished with a season-low 218 yards of total offense, their lowest output of the season.