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Connections: Antonio Pierce will coach his first NFL game against the team he helped lead to a Super Bowl victory

Antonio Pierce will have a clash between his past and present this Sunday.

The game already serves so much significance as he'll be up to task of coaching his first NFL game as interim head coach, following 10 years of coaching experience dating back to the high school level.

Now turn the pressure up a little bit more because his first game in the role will be against the New York Giants – the team he played five seasons with.

As a Giant, he had a Pro Bowl season in 2006, totaling 109 solo tackles, 10 tackles for loss and six pass deflections that season.

The same season where the team dethroned the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Pierce started in that game, ending the day tied for team-high 11 tackles.

"How about that? Couldn't write it up," Pierce said with a grin on his face.

However, he won't let the storyline deter him from the goal at hand: winning.

"It's not Antonio Pierce versus the New York Giants. [It's the] Las Vegas Raiders versus the Giants, coming to our house," he said. "A much needed win for us. We've had two ugly losses. It's time to change that. We're in the second half of the season.

"It doesn't matter what or who Antonio Pierce played for. It's about the Las Vegas Raiders. Those players understand that. This is about them. It ain't about me."

In a press conference Tuesday, Pierce took time to credit a few coaches from the Giants that have helped him along the way as both a player and a coach, including Tom Coughlin and current Kansas City Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Pierce is confident that his experience as a player will help win the locker room, and hopes he can motivate the team to push forward.

"I've been around these guys for two years now as a linebacker coach, and I made my presence known both in the linebacker room, the defensive line room, the quarterback room, the running back room. ... I can relate to them. I've done the same things they've done. I walked the same paths they walked. I felt the same pain they felt. There's nothing or any emotional ride or roller coaster that they haven't gone through this year or the two years I've been with them that I haven't felt.

"My personality will come out and reflect on this team. Hopefully we see that on Sunday."

Other notable connections

  • Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham served two stints with the Giants, the first from 2016-17 as a defensive line coach, and then again in 2020-21 as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach.
  • Raiders defensive tackle John Jenkins played for the Giants in 2018 and saw action in seven games.
  • Raiders tight ends coach Jerry Schuplinski spent two seasons as the Giants quarterbacks coach.
  • Raiders defensive line coach Rob Leonard served as a defensive assistant and outside linebackers coach from 2013-18.
  • Raiders edge rusher Malcolm Koonce is from Peekskill, New York, and attended Buffalo from 2017-20.
  • Raiders guard Greg Van Roten is from Mineola, New York.
  • Giants tight end Darren Waller played for the Raiders for five seasons (2018-22), during which time he notched 3,469 yards and 17 touchdowns in 56 games.
  • Giants defensive end Jihad Ward was initially drafted by the Raiders in the second round (44th overall) of the 2016 NFL Draft. He played two seasons with the club, tallying 32 tackles (17 solo) and one sack in 21 games.
  • Giants defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale spent five seasons with the Raiders as a linebackers coach.
  • Giants offensive line coach Bobby Johnson served as the tight ends coach for the Raiders from 2015-17.
  • Giants tight end Daniel Bellinger is from Las Vegas, Nevada, and attended Palo Verde High School.

View director of photography Michael Clemens' top picks of black and white photos from the Raiders' Week 8 matchup against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

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