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Raiders-Chargers: ‘Press the gas pedal even harder’

Las Vegas takes out frustration on AFC West rival which absolutely quit

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Antonio Pierce
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders were coming off an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at home Sunday to the Minnesota Vikings.

There was talk of a quarterback change.

Antonio Peirce’s chances of being promoted to the full-time coach in 2024 dimmed.

Many fans wanted the team to lose Thursday night to enhance the team’s draft status.

There was talk about whether the Raiders should shut down their stars for the final stretch of the season.

The Raiders themselves?
They wanted to hear none of that bullshit.

The Raiders were clearly a pissed and determined bunch on a short week Thursday and the Los Angeles Chargers were the perfect prey.

Just as the New York Giants were the perfect opponent for Pierce’s first game as the interim coach after Josh McDaniels was fired, the battered Chargers were the perfect recipe to give this team good vibes.

No Justin Herbert, no Keenan Allen, no Joey Bosa. A 28-year-old Easton Stick making his starting quarterback debut. The Raiders smelled blood.

All night long.

When asked what his message was to his team at halftime while leading 42-0, Pierce simply said “press the gas pedal even harder.”

And he wasn’t lying as the Raiders went onto score a team record 63 points in a 63-21 win.

Let’s dive into some of the details:

Aidan O’Connell responds:

Pierce indicated that he didn’t know if O’Connell or veteran Jimmy Garoppolo would play as late as Wednesday. Thursday, ESPN reported that O’Connell, who was awful against the Vikings would have a short leash. How did he respond? By throwing four touchdown passes and no interceptions. Don’t expect there to be questions on who will start Christmas Day at Kansas City. Is this enough to give the fourth-round pick the inside track at being the starter next year? No, but he likely bought himself the final three games of this season to further state his case.

Offensive explosion:

This is an offense that hadn’t scored a touchdown in the past six quarters and scored a total of 46 points in the past four games, had seven touchdowns in the past five games. Pierce said an explosion was coming and it did as the Raiders scored six touchdowns in the first half. Football sure is funny.

Will it be enough for Pierce to keep job?

Anytime a coach leads a team to a franchise record in points it will be noticed and the Raiders are now 3-3 under Pierce. So, Mark Davis had to love what he saw Thursday night. But the Raiders will still have to finish strong for Pierce to get the job. But Thursday night was a nice bounce-back after three straight losses. The roster surely loves playing for him and that will go a long way.

Not tonight, Mack:

Khalil Mack has six sacks in a Week 4 Chargers’ win over the Raiders. He had none and the Chargers had just one sack. It was a great night for the Las Vegas line playing without left tackle Kolton Miller and center Andre James.

Back-to-back defensive scores:

With the game well in hand, the Raiders had back-to-back defensive scores. Defensive tackle John Jenkins scored on a Malcolm Koonce strip sack and cornerback Jack Jones made an incredible one-handed catch for a score in the second half to give the Raiders their final two scores. They had five takeaways and scored off every one. What an effort. The Raiders have 19 takeaways, the most since they had 30 in 2016, according to The Associated Press.

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Malcolm Koonce
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Koonce is balling:

Maxx Crosby is getting help. Third-year pass-rusher Malcolm Koonce has come into his own and he had a great night with two strip sacks. He might be a priority for an extension after the season.

Rookies shine:

O’Connell wasn’t the only rookie to have a big game. Receiver Tre Tucker had two touchdowns, tight end Michael Mayer had a touchdown and Tyree Wilson had a fumble recovery. It’s been a shaky year for this class, but it was a good night for the kids.

White shows something:

Second-year tailback Zamir White made his first start of his career with starter Josh Jacobs out. White had 60 yards on 14 carries and scored on Las Vegas’ first drive. He ran hard and looked solid. If Jacobs can’t play at Kansas City with a quad injury, the Raiders will be confident in White.

Draft can wait:

The Raiders entered Week 15 in the No. 6 slot. They are currently at No. 10 and can fall as low as No. 12 after the week. Fans want the better draft slot, but come on, a 63-21 win against an AFC West rival should make folks not worry about the draft for the moment.

No mercy:

Let the above stat from ESPN soak in. The Raiders poured it on Thursday night. They did not care. “We kicked some ass today,” Pierce said. He’s not lying.

Staley fired?

Will Brandon Staley be the Chargers’ coach Friday morning? He shouldn’t. Yes, the team is battered, but they were blown out by a struggling team and the Chargers have been lacking all season. Staley said after the game he thinks he should remain the coach. It’s doubtful many others agree. Let the Bill Belichick and Jim Harbaugh talk hit full throttle in Southern California.