Raiders facing Eastern time zone issues

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Marcel Reece scrunched up his nose a bit. Then the Oakland Raiders Pro Bowl fullback tilted his head to the side like a dog who just heard a high-pitched noise.

Reece had just been asked how the Raiders, with a trip to face the New York Jets on the horizon, could not let their 12-game losing streak in games played in the Eastern time zone get in their collective heads, let alone become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“That stat doesn’t mean anything,” Reece insisted. “I wouldn’t have known about it if you hadn’t told me. We’re not thinking about things like that.”

OK, but the fact that the Raiders have not won a game three time zones away since Dec. 6, 2009, while getting outscored by a cumulative 379-198 in the process, has become an albatross, of sorts.

Even if, as Reece pointed out, there has been so much roster turnover since Bruce Gradkowski led that epic comeback at the Pittsburgh Steelers four years ago today that it means little to the current players.

Consider: Of the 53 players on the current roster, only four played in that game (strong safety Tyvon Branch, place-kicker Sebastian Janikowski, running back Darren McFadden and long-snapper Jon Condo) while a fifth (offensive lineman Khalif Barnes) was inactive.

Reece himself was still on the Raiders’ practice squad at the time and would not make his NFL debut for another three weeks.

“There have been so many changes since then,” Reece said. “In ’08 and ’09 it was like a revolving door.”

True, but seven of the 12 Eastern time zone losses have come in the past two seasons and the streak is the longest current one in the NFL, as well as a Raiders record.

And second-year coach Dennis Allen has the worst road winning percentage since the start of the 2012 season at .143 (2-12), with the Cleveland Browns creeping behind at .154 (2-11).

Then there’s this -- Oakland has not won in the Jets’ house since Oct. 6, 1996, when Joe Aska rushed for 136 yards, Jeff Hostetler threw three touchdown passes and Rickey Dudley caught a pair of TDs in a 34-13 victory.

Current Raiders quarterback Matt McGloin was not yet seven years old that day. He was a redshirt sophomore at Penn State when the Raiders last won in the Eastern time zone, some 140 miles away in Pittsburgh.

So how does the rookie think the Raiders combat their recent history of East Coast duress?

“We win Sunday, that’s how you do that,” McGloin said with a smile. “But no, it’s not a statistic we’re proud of. Any time you’re traveling across the country to play, it’ll be difficult. But for me, it’s exciting to go back East and play in the cold. The weather is going to be a nice change for me.

“That stat is something we’re aware of, and we’re keeping that in the back of our minds.”

Leave it to an undrafted rookie, then, to harken some George Santayana, who left this Earth before the Raiders were even born. You know the refrain about those who cannot remember the past being condemned to repeat it.