The Oakland Raiders' Kryptonite? The All-Important Fourth Quarter
To the NFL and its coaches, players, analysts, reporters, fans, and, most importantly, the Raider Nation:
I hope that you’re all as excited as I am for the 2008 season to finally get underway. The anticipation overwhelms me at times, but that's just me.
However, that may not be the case for some Raiders fans, as they find themselves discouraged after Saturday night's game. Daydreaming with endless thoughts of déjà vu, replaying last season's memories of disappointment and hoping they won't be repeated in the upcoming season.
The Cardinals gave a constant reminder of an old feeling that has haunted Raiders fans for the past five seasons: discouragement. It's has definitely been a roller coaster ride both in the offseason and preseason.
It's kind of like one of those things you deal with when you're in a relationship, being unable to open up because you're afraid to get your heart ripped out. And this is a very similar situation with the Oakland Raiders, as I know that the members of Raider Nation carry a relationship of love and passion for their team.
And after five years of getting new hopes broken, they now find themselves in a position that they do at the beginning of every season. Do they open themselves up in hopes of the glorious return of the Raiders...only to have their hearts ripped out with disappointment, once again? Or do they give in to what reality wants them to believe: expect nothing, lose nothing?
I can't speak on behalf of the entirety of Raider Nation, but I can tell you this: It would take more then a bad half of a meaningless game to strip me of my loyalty and love to the Oakland Raiders. And the Glory days are near; my belief of this is stronger then ever.
To be honest, can we really take anything to serious from these exhibition games?
I don't believe so. Did we really learn anything new that we didn't already know? We run great, play good defense and are in a learning process with the passing game.
Here's the main reason why nobody really knows what to expect from the Raiders this season: In these preseason games, we never had the chance to see starters play a full game, but, most importantly, not in the fourth quarter, the most important of the game.
The Raiders are that type of team that hangs in through the entire game and always finds a way to lose at the end. And those are the most unpredictable teams for upcoming seasons, because they are usually one key element away from becoming a winning club. Do you guys remember how many times last year the Raiders were leading going into the 4th and lost the game. There were at least 5 games.
Quite honestly, if I were coach Lane Kiffin, I would have put in my starting squads at the beginning of the second half and let them learn to finish games out. Ridiculous, I know, but I can't emphasize enough how important the fourth quarter will be for the Oakland Raiders, especially being a running team.
The Raiders rely on running the ball, controlling the clock, and playing great defense, all to put themselves in a position to win at the end of the game. That's coach's game plan, bottom line; he's stated this numerous times. I just hope I don't have to watch Q&A with Kiffin the next day and hear him say what I've heard from him say too many times... " Well we put ourselves in the position to win the game and just blew it"... Im tired of hearing that, no more excuses. Find a way, get it done Lane. We believe in you.
Enough is enough, this team fell short too many times, and I don't know if it's because the Raiders are used to losing or just don't remember what it takes to win! Sadly, the most impressive way Kiffin showed us how to finish a game with a "W" was to ice a kicker (against Denver). That won't cut it in this league.
It seems as if anytime the fourth quarter comes along, the team weakens, and it seems as if this has been happening for a few years now.
So will the Raiders finally overcome their kryptonite of the fourth-quarter? Because this will be Oakland's biggest challenge. If somehow they can, then without question this can be a winning team that could surprise the league.
We may get our first glimpse of a fourth-quarter win in two weeks, against the Broncos once again; rival games are always close.
As always, God bless America, and long live the Raider Nation,
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