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Pierce picks up first win as Raiders’ interim head coach, crush Giants

Las Vegas interim head coach Antonio Pierce is all smiles after earning his first career win as a head coach. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

A week full of changes starting at the top of the organization provided the necessary fuel for the Las Vegas Raiders to snap a two-game losing streak in their return home.

Interim head coach Antonio Pierce picked up his first career win after Las Vegas knocked off the New York Giants, 30-6, Sunday, Nov. 5 from Allegiant Stadium. Pierce played five of his nine professional years in New York, winning a Super Bowl in 2007.

“I’ve had butterflies three times as a professional,” he said. “My first game in the NFL, the Super Bowl and then my first game as a head coach. That was special but the other part that was special was the history we made today. Black [female President Sandra Douglass Morgan], Black General Manager Champ Kelly and then obviously myself, we don’t take that for granted.”

Along with Pierce, offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree served in the role for the first time while fourth-round rookie Aidan O’Connell got his second start of the year.

“I think the guys are definitely tired but ecstatic to have been able to perform like that,” O’Connell said. “It’s a hard situation what happened this week so I think the guys felt relieved, happy and super joyful that we could perform like this.”

The Raiders (4-5) are now 3-1 at home with a perfect start under its new regime. Ahead on the schedule, the team will take part in its fourth primetime game of the season when it hosts the New York Jets for Sunday Night Football, Nov. 12 from Allegiant Stadium. Kickoff is set for 5:20 p.m.

“Just go back to our roots,” Pierce said. “I just felt like we lost that [love and joy for the game] for a bit [...] They wanted to do it for each other.”

Raiders rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell identifies the defense during the team's 30-6 win over the Giants. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

Under the offensive direction of Hardegree, Las Vegas put forth its best offensive effort of the season as it cracked the 30-point threshold for the first time this year.

“Since I’ve gotten here Bo has been one of the hardest working coaches that I’ve ever been around,” O’Connell said. “He does a great job preparing, he’s trying to get the most information he can about our opponent so he can make good decisions.”

O’Connell was aided by a strong rushing game in the second start of his career but shined in moments with key throws in big-play fashion. He connected with receiver Jakobi Meyers for 24 yards on his first attempt of the game.

Two plays later, Meyers scored from 17 yards out on a jet sweep. During that first drive, the Raiders turned in five run plays and one pass while going up 7-0 in the early going.

About midway through the second quarter, running back Josh Jacobs had accumulated 68 yards, something he had only done twice so far this season. Later on that drive, he’d score on the ground to put Las Vegas up 14-0.

“I saw that heart beating,” Pierce said. “He’s the heartbeat, he’s a Raider. When you watch Josh run, he runs angry and he got back to that running style that we saw last year.”

Las Vegas running back Josh Jacobs holds up two fingers after scoring his second touchdown of the day against New York. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

That score counted as Jacobs fourth rushing touchdown of the season before adding his fifth later in the frame. His two-touchdown first half gave him his first multi-touchdown game since November of last season. Additionally, Jacobs has now scored in back-to-back games for the second time in 2023.

Jacobs eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time this season but would lose two yards on the next play to finish with 98 yards on a season-high 26 carries and two touchdowns.

By halftime, Las Vegas had put up a season-high 24 points before reaching the 30-point mark in the second half for the first time since Week 17 of last year. Similar to O’Connell, backup turned starting quarterback Jarrett Stidham led the Raiders during that game.

“He took care of the ball,” Pierce said. “Did a really good job of being poised, handled the tempo that we had early on. We had some alerts and some checks, he did a good job with that – looked totally different from that guy in that first start.”

O’Connell went 16-for-25 with 209 yards while not committing a turnover and not being sacked. With him under center, receiver Hunter Renfrow set a new season-high with 32 receiving yards on two catches which also tied a season-high.

Fellow rookie Tre Tucker showed his big play ability with a 50-yard reception on a bomb from O’Connell.

Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby chases down Giants quarterback Tommy DeVito for one of his three sacks on the day. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Raiders

For the first time since 2010, Las Vegas’ defensive front recorded eight sacks to help pace the offense. This came with two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and four turnovers on down forced.

Defensive end Maxx Crosby recorded three sacks on the day to bring his season’s total to nine through the first nine games. After sacking New York quarterback Daniel Jones in the first quarter, Jones’ knee would buckle on the first snap taken after that collision. Jones was just returning from a three-game hiatus after dealing with a neck injury.

Backup Tommy DeVito would take over and would be tormented by the Raider defense to the tune of six sacks and two interceptions.

Defensive back Amik Robertson intercepted the rookie on the deep ball over the middle of the field. Robertson would also force a fumble later in the game before finishing with three tackles and two pass deflections.

Fellow defensive back Nate Hobbs intercepted DeVito on the first play of a late second quarter drive for the second takeaway in two plays for the defense going back to Robertson’s pick.

“Team effort,” Pierce said. “Defensively, we talked about taking the ball away and attacking the quarterback. Eight sacks, two picks, Amik great job, Nate Hobbs: Johnny on the spot. And the biggest thing to me was how those guys celebrated.”


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