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Oakland ‘D’ can’t get off field on 3rd down

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POSTED December 12, 2013 11:39 p.m.

ALAMEDA (AP) — Jason Tarver is as passionate and animated as any coach in the NFL. The Oakland Raiders’ defensive coordinator is usually quick with a statistic or two to back up whatever point he’s trying to make.

The fact that Oakland’s defense is third in the NFL in three-and-outs, for example. Tarver’s eyes grew wide and he talked proudly about that Thursday, saying few people around the league expected that out of the young Raiders.

All of that energy grinds to a screeching halt, however, when discussing Oakland’s struggles on third down.

The Raiders have had issues finishing drives and games for much of the season. It’s become a particularly troubling trend over the past three games, all of which ended in losses for a team headed for its 11th consecutive non-winning record.

“We have to understand in those situations how to get ourselves off the field,” Tarver said. “It’s that refocus on the ninth play of the drive, that’s where we need to improve. We’ve got some things we do really well but we have to focus when it doesn’t go as well early in the drive.”

Oakland (4-9) is 25th in third-down efficiency this season, allowing opponents to convert nearly 41 percent of the time.

In the past three games alone, the Raiders have allowed teams to convert a league-high 54.5 percent (24 of 44) of third-down plays. Of those, five have been on third-and-10 or longer.

“I think it really boils down to those teams out-executed us in those particular situations,” Oakland coach Dennis Allen said.

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