The Raiders had a few victory cigars in the locker room following the 30-6 routing of the New York Giants.
The cigars blazing in the joyful locker room were also a representation of how the Raiders offense performed Sunday – on fire. After not scoring more than 21 points in a contest through Week 8, they broke threw the door with 24 points in the first half.
"Everything that's going on is in front of us, not behind us," Antonio Pierce said following his first game as Raiders interim head coach. "The team effort you saw today is what we displayed in practice on Thursday and Friday. I'm proud of those guys for that. ... Offense came out the gate just physical, downhill running, O-line finishing runs."
The offense was fueled by rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell, who showed immense progression from his first NFL start a few weeks prior. He threw for 209 yards and completed the Raiders' longest play of the season to Tre Tucker – a 50-yard pass.
While O'Connell looked calm and poised throughout the duration of the game, there was still a few butterflies in the rookie's stomach ahead of his second NFL start. This was a win he really wanted for his team.
"It's a situation I've never been a part of," O'Connell said. "I was lucky to have one head coach my entire time in college, and I was in college for a long time so I got pretty lucky with that. To have a coaching shift this early on was definitely unexpected but I think our guys around me just did a great job of instilling confidence in me and allowing my job to be a lot easier."
After getting sacked six times with three turnovers Week 4 against the Chargers, there was a complete 180-degree flip among O'Connell and the offense against the Giants. The former Purdue Boilermaker committed no turnovers, while the offensive line didn't allow a single sack.
"I think Aidan did a fantastic job," said center Andre James. "He went out there and controlled what he wanted to control. His communication was great all night. As far as the offensive line, we had a plan to for 97 [Dexter Lawrence] and the rest of their D-line on top of it. It was really just about communication, being on the same page and at the end of day, executing."
O'Connell returned the praise back to the offensive line, recognizing how much they were able to provide to their collective success as an offense.
"It starts with them," the rookie said. "I think they've been challenged a lot to do their job and execute and I think they did an awesome job. Those guys, they play so hard. Offensive line is such a hard position. ... It takes a special guy to play offensive line. Super proud of our guys for establishing the run, keeping me clean in the pass game."
Along with the success of O'Connell and the offensive line, running back Josh Jacobs returned to his hard-running form. Pierce said last week that he wanted to get Jacobs going, labeling him as"the heartbeat" of the team.
After leading the NFL rushing yards in 2022, Jacobs has averaged 51 rushing yards per game leading into Week 9. Behind a dominant offensive line and the direction of Pierce and interim offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree, Jacobs had a season-high 98 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the day.
Jacobs said he believes Sunday was "the best we've played as a team collectively all season."
"They let me get involved a little more in the run game," Jacobs said of his role in the offense. "They called all the runs that they felt that I liked, the runs that I felt worked good throughout the week. We have been practicing them, they just happened to call them at the right times. It was definitely a collective effort.
"[Pierce] just told me the way I play the game with passion, it ignites a spark in the guys," Jacobs added. "That's what I tried to come out here and bring today."
View photos from the Raiders' Week 9 matchup against the New York Giants at Allegiant Stadium.