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Raiders Week 16: The ebb and flows

Another flat performance against the Chiefs will dip the feel-good high Las Vegas is on

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders interim head coach Antonio Pierce is big on the one-game-at-a-time approach. He has another big test as his Raiders head to Kansas City to take on the AFC West-leading Chiefs for a Christmas Day matchup.
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Don’t worry, Raider Nation. Antonio Pierce knows exactly how you feel.

The goal for his Las Vegas Raiders’ Week 16 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas Day echoes what many fans want to see.

“I only have one wish and one present I want — it’s to win. I just want to win,” the interim head coach matter-of-factly said when asked about balancing holidays with work for the Christmas tilt during his Wednesday media availability.

Pierce’s transparency is an endearing trait. The Raiders interim boss often wears his emotions on his sleeve and it’s not difficult to discern exactly how he’s feeling. Hence why when asked about balancing holiday, he’s all business and focused on walking into GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium and dropping an L on the AFC West leading Chiefs.

“Another heated rivalry. Again, I’ll just talk about the two years I’ve been here. We were up 17-0 there on Monday Night Football, 14-0 here in our stadium. It’s just one of those games, man. It’s going to be the same way; you can never count this team out,” Pierce said of Kansas City. “We know this is going to be a game that we got to do everything right for a full 60 minutes. And you’re playing against a Hall of Fame coach, probably the best quarterback in the National Football League, and a defense that’s still playing lights out.”

Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders
The last time Andy Reid, left, and Antonio Pierce met at mid field, it was Reid’s Chiefs that walked away victorious. Pierce is hoping his Raiders can walk away with a win in Kansas City on Christmas Day.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

Pierce is also keenly aware of the ebbs and flows; peaks and valleys, a football team goes through. During his tenure stepping into the head coach role when Raiders owner Mark Davis fired Josh McDaniels, Pierce has experienced the lowest of lows (a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Vikings) and the highest of highs (a team-record 63-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers). Whether the Silver & Black experience another peak — a win in hostile Arrowhead and against the division dominator — or another valley — a loss to the Chiefs — is highly dependent on Pierce, his coaching staff, and his players ability to put everyone in the best possible position to succeed and execute.

“Just like we do when we lost, reset, boom, put that behind us look in front of us and understand the challenge that we have, and play our kind of ball. That’s what we want to do,” Pierce noted. “We’ve done that twice now, the Giants and this game, where all three phases have contributed to a win. And if we can continue to do that, it’ll give ourselves a chance to play well on Christmas Day.”

Wide receiver Davante Adams echoed what the interim boss said during his own media session. When broached about Pierce’s comments about being up 17-0 and 14-0 on Kansas City only to lose in the end, Adams was asked for the key to sustaining an closing those type of ball games out.

“Coaches and players working together, players executing whatever is called and coaches making sure we continue to have that aggressive mindset, which ultimately makes — I mean that’s what typically puts us in that spot to where we have that lead,” Adams answered. “So whatever it was that got us there, we’ve got to stay with that and find a way to keep doing what we’ve got to do as players to keep moving the ball and making it happen.”

One of the ways to ensure Las Vegas is executing his being physical while displaying both physical and mental toughness. In the wins, Pierce’s Raiders showed that. If the team is to walk out of Kansas City with a victory, it must show that again.

Los Angeles Chargers v Las Vegas Raiders
Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams (17) celebrates cornerback Jack Jones’ (18) pick six against the Chargers. Adams noted the Raiders must execute for 60 minutes if the team is to beat the Chiefs this Monday.
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

“First day I got up here I talked about physicality and toughness. We can do all that, we can score 63, hell we can score 99, 100. But if you don’t play with a certain physicality and toughness and a mindset, it doesn’t matter,” Pierce said. “I told you, us as Raiders and our staff and organization, we want it to look a certain way, sound a certain way, feel a certain way, smell a certain way.”

What’s also helping the Raiders is Pierce reaching out to and having his mentors and former coaches come into team headquarters in Henderson and imparting knowledge. That group was made up of Tom Coughlin, Marvin Lewis, and Adam Gase, a trio that’s experienced the same ebbs and flows Pierce is going through now. If anyone can be a guiding light on how to make the highs more consistent than the lows, that trio is a solid sounding board. Lewis was even seen on the broadcast sporting Raiders gear during the team’s annihilation of the Bolts.

“Just mentors and gentlemen who’ve been with me since I was 22-23 years old, know me well, people that I when I decide to get into coaching that I always say, ‘You know what, I’ll take a little bit of this, I’ll take a little bit of that,’ and their knowledge and wisdom is beyond anything I can ever try to mimic, make up, have in the building,” said Pierce when asked . You’re talking about 40 years of experience between Coach Coughlin and Marvin Lewis. They’ve seen it, they’ve done it, they’ve built programs and organizations from the ground up. They turned bad organizations to really good ones and ones that have been winning programs, so why not learn from them? I’d be a fool not to use my resources.”