The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Oakland Raiders - INSIDE SLANT
If form holds, the Oakland Raiders will get off to a good start against the New York Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium, only to have bad luck and bad play ultimately seal their doom.
The Raiders are 4-8 this season, but in six of those losses they were either tied or had a lead in the second half.
Opponents have been outscored 86-41 in the first quarter, but the Raiders have been outscored 95-40 in the fourth quarter.
Most recent was a 31-24 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, a game which the Raiders led 21-14 going into halftime.
While there were dozens of plays in all the losses that could have prevented defeat, Raiders coach Dennis Allen thinks the ones on third down hurt the most -- the first downs the Raiders didn't get as well as the ones they gave up.
"Our issue, from a team standpoint, is we haven't done as good a job of getting off the field on third down and we consequently haven't had opportunities on offense," Allen said.
Against the Cowboys, the Raiders converted seven consecutive third-down opportunities in building a 21-7 lead, which the Cowboys cut to 21-14 when Tony Romo successfully executed a two-minute drill for a touchdown before the half.
In the second half, when the Raiders needed re-assert themselves, they instead stalled on offense with three-and-outs that fed into Dallas drives. The end result was Dallas was able to wear out the Oakland defense and rush for 132 of the 144 yards they would have in the game.
"That's an area of emphasis for us," Allen said. "If we can convert on offense and hold on to the ball for a bit longer and improve on third downs on defense we can eliminate points," Allen said.
Raiders rookie quarterback Matt McGloin, who authored a 28-23 win over Houston in his debut and then close losses to both Tennessee and Dallas, sees competitive games where mistakes are crucial.
"Every game is close. It's something that you start to pick up on and start to realize," McGloin said. "A lot of things happen in the second half and happened in the fourth quarter. It's something you learn as a rookie, as a first time starter, that anything can happen and you have to stay focused, you have to finish. The most important thing is finishing."
McGloin echoed Allen's concern about third-down failures.
"If you want to win games you have to convert on third downs," McGloin said. "You have to make plays in big situations and the past two weeks we haven't been able to do that.
"You look at the third down conversions in the first half as compared to the second half. It has to be better. We have to stay focused and play a complete game and try to finish."
Fullback Marcel Reece wants to see the offense keep better control of down and distance.
"As an offense, we've got to figure out our execution in the fourth quarter and the second half and just stay on schedule," Reece said. "The play-calling is there, the play-calling is right. We've got to learn to execute at those times. I know it's a cliche, but we've got to finish the game. Our goal is to end every game in a victory formation."