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."

All four games the Raiders have played since a 49-20 blowout loss to Philadelphia on Nov. 3 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 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 than have the Raiders.

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.

Against Tennessee and Dallas, the Raiders' biggest problems were on third down. Oakland's offense failed to convert a single third down in the fourth quarter of those games while allowing quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick of the Titans and Tony Romo of the Cowboys to go a combined 7 for 10.

"On most of those third downs, we have two, maybe three players in position to make the tackles, and we have to make those tackles," defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. "It's not a matter of calls -- it's a matter of making plays."

Running back Rashad Jennings stressed execution and "meshing with what's inside your playbook, having that feel for the system. Understanding the dos and don'ts."

Defensive end Lamarr Houston thinks finishing out games is the next logical step to resurrecting the franchise.

"We've made a lot of progress this year, especially with the guys in the locker room, with the level of the game, and having guys who want to be here and be part of the organization," Houston said. "Now we have to work on just winning."

For more on the Raiders, visit the Inside the Oakland Raiders blog at ibabuzz.com/oaklandraiders. Follow Jerry McDonald on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jerrymcd.

SUNDAY'S GAME
Raiders (4-8) at N.Y. Jets (5-7), 10 a.m. CBS