Very few people expected the Las Vegas Raiders to go to Kansas City and come out with a win over the division-leading Kansas City Chiefs. But interim coach Antonio Pierce had his team, and particularly his defense, ready to play and the Raiders shocked the football world on Christmas Day.
Powered by back-to-back defensive touchdowns in the second quarter, the Raiders left Kansas City with a 20-14 win over the Chiefs, keeping their playoff hopes alive and giving Pierce a signature win as he continues to build his case to get the interim tag removed from his title.
Following the win, Pierce was interviewed by Tracy Wolfson of CBS Sports and struggled to keep his emotions in check while praising his team and coaching staff:
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) December 25, 2023
This has been a long road for Pierce and this victory over the Chiefs was a crowning moment for him in this coaching career. That his emotions took over in the moment just shows how important all of this is to him and it is a big reason why the Raiders players have supported him the way they have.
As a former player, Pierce has the ability to relate to the team in a way that others don’t. The passion that he has for the game is evident, and that rubs off on the team. He has allowed the Raiders to go out and play the game that they love and injected this team with an energy that wasn’t there prior. The results are showing as the Raiders now have the opportunity to get into the postseason against all odds.
In this game, the Raiders had just 205 total yards of offense with 145 of those coming via Zamir White on the ground. But Pierce sent a message before the game that ‘enough is enough,’ and the Raiders defense took that to heart, first with a Bilal Nichols fumble recovery for a touchdown, followed by a Jack Jones pick-6 for the second consecutive game.
Pierce has obviously done enough to keep this job permanently and the players would undoubtedly back that decision as well, but whether the Raiders front office will make that move is unclear. As Pierce said, he will allow that part to take care of itself as it is out of his control. What is in his control is the performance of the team, and on that front, he has passed every test.