Rookie QB Aidan O'Connell propels Raiders to historic blowout over Chargers

The Raiders’ first drive of the evening ended with celebration, as a rushing touchdown by Zamir White marked the team’s first offensive touchdown scored since the second quarter of Week 12, having gone without a TD in their previous 19 possessions.

But the celebration over a single score was quickly usurped by astonishment at a barrage of points from the Raiders, as rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell captained his offense to a historic 63-21 win over the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night, just four days after Las Vegas failed to score at all against the Vikings.

“Just super proud of our guys for executing well,” O’Connell said. “I think we were almost spared to have a short week here, so we couldn’t really think about what happened, we had to move on, just got to move on from everything that happened on Sunday was great for us, and to be able to do this was pretty awesome. Every phase did a really good job, and it was fun to watch and really fun to be a part of.”

The Raiders finished nine points off the all-time NFL record for points in a regular-season game, with only the second game this century of 63-plus points (the Dolphins scored 70 earlier this season against the Broncos).

Las Vegas opened up the scoring with a 12-play, 68-yard drive that ended with the score by White, breaking the aforementioned scoring drought.

Then the onslaught began, with back-to-back Chargers fumbles leading to Raiders touchdowns on the ensuing possessions for a 21-0 first quarter lead. And three more second-quarter touchdowns — two off the arm of O’Connell — doubled the lead, giving the Raiders a 42-point advantage after 30 minutes of play.

And they didn’t let up after the break, with interim head coach Antonio Pierce saying after the game that his team was going to play with the same amount of aggression no matter what the score had been Thursday.

“We knew at halftime what the record was, I was made aware of it, and we were going to be aggressive regardless of what the score was, whether we only had 21, or 10, we were going to be aggressive,” he said. “That was our mindset, talked to our team about it last week, playing better in the second half, I thought we did then, and this one was playing a full second half and not letting off on the gas pedal, and hats off to our team, because that was their mindset.”

His players answered the call. The offense scored once more on a trick play when wide receiver Jakobi Meyers received a lateral before throwing to Davante Adams in the end zone, and the defense continued to pressure Easton Stick and the Chargers offense, forcing a 44-yard scoop-and-score (on the fourth fumble of the night) and a 16-yard pick-six when Jack Jones jumped in front of a screen pass from Stick.

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The win set multiple records for both teams involved, including:

  • A Raiders franchise record for points in a game (63 points)
  • A Chargers franchise record for most points allowed in a game
  • The largest margin of victory in the Super Bowl era under a coach who did not start the year as head coach
  • A tie for the eighth-most points scored in a regular-season game
  • The most points scored by a team after being shut out the week before in the Super Bowl era
  • The largest halftime lead in Raiders history (42 points); also the largest halftime deficit in Chargers history
  • The most players to score a TD in a game in Raiders franchise history (eight)
  • The fourth time, and first since 1950, for a team to have eight-plus players score a touchdown in a game

It was also by far O’Connell’s best performance since taking over the starting gig in Week 9, with his breakout night including four touchdown passes in the first two quarters, the most by any player in a first half this year and equaling his TD output from his previous seven appearances.

He finished the evening 20-of-34 passing for 248 yards with the four TDs and zero interceptions. After a disappointing outing in last week’s 3-0 loss to Minnesota, Pierce said he was impressed with the resilience that was on display from his QB to get back on track.

“Aidan is a rookie, when I was a rookie and I played I made mistakes and I had ugly games. And it’s hard to play the position he plays, he gonna have rough days, and he had a rough day in the office last week,” Pierce said. “But you know what he did on Monday? His ass was the first one in the building. You know what he did yesterday? He was the last one out of the building. He didn’t leave, he stayed here all day until he got it right. Same thing today, didn’t leave the building all day until he got it right.

“He has a great opportunity, no different than me, and he’s taking advantage of it, and tonight, he’s on the winning side.”

Pierce also commended his team for their effort in snapping each other out of a “funk” after the Vikings loss, adding that being able to come back with this type of historic win only increases their confidence going into the final three games of the season, starting with next week’s matchup with the reigning Super Bowl champ Kansas City Chiefs.

“It doesn’t matter who you play, it’s hard to score 60-plus points in the National Football League,” Pierce said. “Hats off to our players, because that’s what leaders and real men do, they bring others along with them, they brought me along, and hell, we kicked some ass today.”

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