The Raiders’ split personality this season is starting to worry Hue Jackson.
Almost every game, it seems, the Raiders start out as the swashbuckling, take-no-prisoners version of their team logo, scoring points in bunches and building leads.
Then, out comes the kinder, gentler, silver-and-black-clad maitre d' who ushers opponents to the end zone and back into the game.
Sunday, in winning their second straight game, the Raiders scored 27 consecutive points early, then let the Vikings score two TDs in the fourth quarter to put the game in doubt.
Earlier this season, they let leads slip away against Buffalo and Denver. In San Diego Nov. 10, the Raiders built a 10-point halftime lead but couldn’t build on it. And, notes Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group, the Raiders haven’t scored in the fourth quarter for five consecutive games.
Though Oakland, at 6-4, is atop the AFC West and will host the Chicago Bears Sunday – probably without quarterback Jay Cutler, who apparently suffered a broken thumb against the Chargers – the trend worries Jackson.
“We have second-half issues that I need to address,” he told Kawakami after Sunday’s victory. “I’m going to continue to address it. That’s my job. We’ll get it done.”
In Minnesota, when the Raiders offense suddenly had trouble moving the ball and adding points, the Vikings were able to rally.
“We had some opportunities to kind of put the game away and didn’t finish it,” Raiders QB Carson Palmer told Kawakami. “Thankfully our defense played the way they did.”
Perhaps, going forward, Jackson will keep his foot on the offensive pedal a bit longer. As Vittorio Tafur, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Raiders beat reporter, wrote after Sunday’s game, Oakland “got conservative in the second half.”
The fourth-quarter injury to receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey seemed to take some of the energy out of the Raiders offense, which also was playing without running back Darren McFadden. Whether those two will play Sunday against the Bears will be determined over the next few days.
One thing some of the Raiders have determined, however, is they need to keep that more aggressive side of their personality on the field longer, through the second half.
“I think we played well in the first half,” defensive tackle Richard Seymour told reporters, “but we’ve got to learn to finish teams.”