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JaMarcus Russell has made up for two terrible games with two late Oakland Raiders touchdown drives.
With the Oakland Raiders losing in the fourth quarter in two consecutive AFC West games, JaMarcus Russell has engineered late touchdown drives to put his team ahead in both games. You could call him "Mr. Fourth Quarter!"
Or you could call him "Mr. Doesn't Show Up for the First Three-and-a-half Quarters," but that would be pessimistic.
JaMarcus' numbers aren't just bad, they're Dan Orlovsky bad. He's statistically the third-worst starting quarterback in the league going into Week 3. His 46.6 quarterback rating puts him behind only Jake Delhomme, who has thrown five interceptions, and Matt Stafford, who is a Detroit Lion.
But that doesn't mean anything to JaMarcus Russell when his team is down by more than a field goal and the game clock is at the two-minute warning. Russell has faced that very situation in both games. And in both games, he's transformed himself in the clutch from first-one-in-line at Sizzler to first-overall draft pick.
In the Raiders' Monday Night Football opener, the Raiders were down 17-13 with two minutes and change left on the clock. Russell more than did his part, taking the Raiders 71 yards against a vaunted Chargers defense. But the Raiders' defense also gave up a late touchdown of their own, preventing the win.
And against Kansas City, Russell engineered his only touchdown drive of the day when it really mattered. Down 10-6 with only 1:31 left, Russell took the Raiders 69 yards for the win.
That's two clutch touchdown drives in two weeks, something Raider fans haven't seen in a long time. How long? The Oakland Tribune's Jerry McDonald breaks down the numbers to show that the Raiders haven't scored a go-ahead touchdown with three minutes or less left in a game since Kerry Collins did it 2001. That's just once in seven years, until Russell did it twice in the last two weeks.
So Raider fans can stick up for JaMarcus Russell by paraphrasing the words of Han Solo. "He may not look like much, but he's got it where it counts!"
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who would have put up a YouTube of that Han Solo quote except he's afraid that George Lucas' lawyers would nail him like a womp rat back on Tattooine.