Raiders hang team-record 63 on banged-up Bolts

  • Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff WriterDec 14, 2023, 11:38 PM ET


      Paul Gutierrez joined NFL Nation in 2013 and serves as its Las Vegas Raiders reporter. He has a multi-platform role – writing on, television appearances on NFL Live and SportsCenter, and podcast and radio appearances. Before coming to ESPN, Gutierrez spent three years at CSN Bay Area as a multi-platform reporter, covering the Raiders and Oakland Athletics as well as anchoring the SportsNet Central cable news show. Gutierrez votes for the Baseball Hall of Fame and is also a member of the Professional Football Writers of America and currently serves as the PFWA’s Las Vegas chapter president. He is also a member of the California Chicano News Media Association and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists. Gutierrez has authored three books: Tommy Davis’ Tales from the Dodgers Dugout, 100 Things Raiders Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die and If These Walls Could Talk: Stories from the Raiders Sideline, Locker Room and Press Box with Lincoln Kennedy. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PGutierrezESPN

LAS VEGAS — Four days after bottoming out with a 3-0 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in the lowest-scoring indoor game in NFL history, the Las Vegas Raiders balled out against the Los Angeles Chargers, beating their AFC West rival 63-21 on Thursday night while setting a franchise record for points scored in a game.

The 63 points were the third most by a team in the Super Bowl era and the second most in NFL history by a team that was shut out in its previous game, one behind the 64 points the 1934 Philadelphia Eagles scored against the Cincinnati Reds.

The Raiders also scored the most points in a prime-time game since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

From zero to 63?

“I was into it,” Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce said of the blue mood that enveloped the team after Sunday’s loss. “I had to slap myself to get out the funk, and [the players] got me out of the funk. They brought me along, and hell, we kicked some ass today.

“It became a frenzy.”

It was a complete demolition as the Raiders ended a three-game losing streak to improve to 6-8 while scoring seven touchdowns on offense and two on defense. They had five takeaways, scoring a touchdown after each one. The Raiders’ 35 points off takeaways are tied for the most this century, equaling the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs at the Raiders and the 2012 New England Patriots at the New York Jets in the infamous “Butt Fumble” game.

The Raiders led 42-0 at halftime.

When wide receiver Jakobi Meyers hit Davante Adams for a 3-yard touchdown pass to put the Raiders up 49-0 in the third quarter, Meyers became the first non-quarterback this century to throw a pass with his team up by at least 40 points. Meyers also became the second Raiders player in franchise history with a passing touchdown and receiving touchdown in the same game, joining Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen in 1983 against the Seattle Seahawks.

The Raiders’ two defensive touchdowns — a 44-yard fumble return by defensive tackle John Jenkins and an acrobatic 16-yard pick-six by Jack Jones — were their first pair in a game since 2006, when Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Carr returned interceptions for scores against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger.

With Raiders interim offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree moving up to the press box from the field, rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell threw deep and excelled.

“Obviously, after last week’s performance, we had to make a change,” Pierce said of moving Hardegree to a higher vantage point. “And I think it worked out well for us.”

O’Connell, who entered the day 5-for-20 with one touchdown and two interceptions on passes of 20-plus air yards, went 3-of-4 with three touchdowns on such passes in the first half. He is the first Raiders quarterback to throw three touchdowns of at least 20 air yards in a game since ESPN began tracking air yards in 2006.

He finished 20-of-34 for 248 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. He said the short week helped the Raiders get over the shutout loss to the Vikings because they could not dwell on it.

“It was fun to watch and fun to be a part of,” said O’Connell, who posted a career-best 120.7 passer rating after he had a 66.0 passer rating against the Vikings. “Sometimes, the stars just align.”

Las Vegas, which had scored 20 points or fewer in 11 of 13 games, had eight players score touchdowns. Including the playoffs, that is tied for the second most in a game in NFL history and is the fifth time that has happened overall.

The Raiders were without All-Pro running back Josh Jacobs (quad), left tackle Kolton Miller (right shoulder) and center Andre James (right ankle) and have a lengthy break before facing the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Christmas Day.

The Chargers were without their two best offensive players, with star quarterback Justin Herbert out for the season following surgery to repair a fractured right index finger earlier this week and leading wide receiver Keenan Allen out with a heel injury.

In Herbert’s place, Easton Stick was 23-of-32 for 257 yards with three touchdowns, but he also threw an interception and lost two fumbles.

Raiders right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor said there was “a lot of pent-up aggression” after being shut out on Sunday.

“Last week sucked, losing 3-0,” said Eluemunor, who shut out Chargers edge rusher Khalil Mack after he got six of his league-leading 15 sacks against the Raiders in Week 4. “That’s f—ing embarrassing. … And everyone just wanted to come out here today and just … let it all out. Especially on a short week like this.”

Adams agreed.

“Obviously, we still got things to play for, but you’ve got to have that pride of your last name and the team you play for, and we all had that on our mind today,” he said after catching a game-high eight passes for 101 yards and the touchdown. “We rallied and figured out a way to do it the right way. Started out great, defense got on the field and got them right off, and I think we’ve just been kind of snowballing off what they’ve been doing all year and we’ve got to find a way to be a little bit more consistent on offense.”

With the Miami Dolphins beating the Denver Broncos 70-20 in Week 3, this is the first season in which multiple teams have scored at least 60 points since 1972.

“We was on the other side of [a shutout] last week, and it felt a certain way,” Pierce said. “No apologies here. Sorry.”