Raiders embarrass Chargers with historic first half en route to 63-21 blowout win

When an NFL analyst calls for your job at halftime of a nationally broadcast game, it probably isn't your night. Brandon Staley and the Los Angeles Chargers lived that reality Thursday during a 63-21 drubbing by the Las Vegas Raiders.

The game was essentially over the instant the Chargers took the field. After forcing a three-and-out, the Raiders took control of the ball at their own 32-yard line. The team then waltzed down the field in 12 plays and capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Zamir White.

Then they did it again and again and again and again. By the time the first quarter ended, the Raiders held a 21-0 lead. At halftime, the team had extended that lead to 42-0. That set a Raiders team record for the most points scored in the first half. Yes, this is the same Raiders team that was shut out by the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14.

Things got so bad for the Chargers that Amazon Prime NFL television analyst — and former All-Pro cornerback — Richard Sherman called for the team to fire Staley at halftime.

"This is one of the worst first halves I’ve seen from a team," Sherman said. "It just looks like they’ve given up. They quit. They’ve packed their bags.

"Brandon Staley, I hate to say this because you don’t ever want to call for somebody’s job. But they should fire — they should make history. They should fire him at halftime. I’ve never seen a team come out this uninspired.”

Staley, to his credit, did not immediately run and hide when he saw sideline reporter Kaylee Hartung approach for an interview at halftime. When asked to describe the team's performance, Staley responded, "This wasn’t good enough. That wasn't us out there," before saying the team would play for pride in the second half. Raiders interim coach Antonio Pierce took another approach, saying he wanted his team to "press the gas pedal even harder."

The Raiders delivered on that promise. The team scored on its first drive of the second half and later returned a fumble on what would've been the highlight of the night during any other game.

The Raiders had plenty of big moments to choose in this one, later scoring on an interception return to make it 63-7.

Essentially every Raiders player on offense turned in an excellent game. Rookie quarterback Aidan O'Connell threw for four touchdowns, White and Brandon Bolden added scores on the ground, and Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers each had receiving touchdowns. Meyers, who was recruited to NC State as a quarterback, even got to throw a touchdown because that's the type of thing that happens when a team is up 42-0.

The dominant win won't change the Raiders' season. At 6-8, the team is pretty far removed from a playoff spot in the AFC. But it was a statement victory over a division rival, the kind that potentially helps Pierce earn the full-time head-coaching job with the Raiders next season. The team played inspired for Pierce and continued to play hard despite a massive halftime lead.

Brandon Staley and the Chargers hit rock-bottom

The game probably says more about Staley and the Chargers, who came out completely flat after losing Justin Herbert to a season-ending injury in Week 14. Herbert's absence certainly played a role in the Chargers' ineptitude Thursday, but it doesn't explain why the team has struggled the entire season.

That falls on Staley, who pretty much signed his walking papers before the first quarter ended. Staley's tenure in Los Angeles initially showed promise, but the team failed to progress under his guidance and continued to make baffling, fourth-quarter mistakes late in games that resulted in excruciating losses.

Enough of those losses piled up over Staley's first two seasons that he entered 2023 on the hot seat despite winning 10 games last season. Pressure continued to build after the Chargers opened the 2023 season 0-2.

Following Thursday's loss, the Chargers sit at 5-9 on the year. That's a major disappointment considering the talent the team has amassed on offense. Herbert is considered one of the most talented passers in the game, Austin Ekeler remains a dynamic playmaker, and Keenan Allen is still always open.

When Staley says the team "didn't come out to play" during a halftime interview, that ultimately falls on him. Considering how unprepared the Chargers looked Thursday, it probably won't be long before Staley is relieved of that responsibility.