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Raiders struggling in 4th quarter

ALAMEDA — Fullback Marcel Reece had a novel if unrealistic idea for taking the success the Raiders have early in a game and applying it to when it comes time to close out a win.

“Maybe in the fourth quarter we'll have it say it's the first quarter on the scoreboard,” Reece said. “Look, if I had the answers, it would be fixed.”

The Raiders' 4-8 record heading into Sunday's game at MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets (5-7) offers little hope of substantial improvement from last year's 4-12 season given the remaining schedule.

Among those eight losses are six during which the Raiders either held a lead or were tied in the second half. There were only two such games last season, a 23-20 overtime loss to Atlanta and a 42-32 defeat against Tampa Bay.

In other words, the 2012 Raiders more often than not weren't good enough to even sniff victory in the second half. In 2013, the Raiders are significantly more competitive but too often unable to do what it takes to finish with a win.

“We've put ourselves in those positions to give ourselves a chance to win, and that's a positive,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said Thursday. “But ultimately, it's our job to seal the deal. And that's what we've got to continue to strive toward.”

In the four games the Raiders have played since a 49-20 blowout loss to Philadelphia on Nov. 3, all four were up for grabs in the fourth quarter. The only time the Raiders won was 28-23 in Houston when the defense held the Texans without a touchdown on three red zone possessions in the fourth quarter.

The Raiders led the New York Giants 20-14 in the third quarter but fell 24-20. They were up on Tennessee 19-16 in the fourth quarter and fell 23-19. On Thanksgiving against Dallas, the Raiders were up 21-14 with less than six minutes remaining in the third quarter and fell 31-24.

“What you learn as a rookie is that every game is close,” quarterback Matt McGloin said. “A lot of things happened in the second half and the fourth quarter. You have to stay focused and you have to finish. The most important thing is finishing.”

If form holds against the Jets, the Raiders will get off to a great start and struggle at the finish. With an 86-41 advantage in the first quarter — including an NFL-best five game-opening touchdown drives — only the Denver Broncos at plus-49 have outscored their opponents by more points.

The flip side is the Raiders have been outscored 95-40 in the fourth quarter, a 55-point disparity that is the highest in the NFL and well ahead of Cleveland's 39-point deficit.

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