The Raiders were not terrific that game, gaining only 204 yards and scoring only six offensive points. But they beat the Chiefs, 20-14, thanks to two defensive touchdowns.
At the time, the game felt like a condemnation of the Chiefs as title contenders. Yes, they had won the Super Bowl the season before and had been to the big game three times in the past four years. But imagining the Xmas version of the Chiefs as future champions felt like a stretch at that moment, especially with the Bills and Ravens rolling at the time.
We know how it ended. The Chiefs got hot in the playoffs, winning in Buffalo and Baltimore before taking down the 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday – in Allegiant Stadium, home of the Raiders. The Chiefs spent all week preparing for the game while practicing at the Raiders’ facility, too.
On the flip side, the irony is that the Raiders’ Week 16 victory over the Chiefs might also have gone a long way toward Pierce landing the Raiders’ full-time job. The then-interim coach was only 3-3 at that point, having lost to the Chiefs, 31-17, in Las Vegas a few weeks earlier in spite of the Raiders taking a 14-0 lead in that game.
Pierce finished 5-4 down the stretch and was named full-time coach after the season. With Reid announcing his plans to return to the Chiefs, they’ll lock heads again in 2024.
So in a way, Pierce and Reid helped each other get what they needed. And perhaps, like Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby was, Pierce was rooting for the Chiefs to win so that, as Crosby told NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano and Brian Baldinger in the days before the game, the Raiders “can be the ones to take them down and take them off that pedestal.”
Pierce no doubt would love to return the favor one day, and it would only be fitting if he received a surprising and unexpected assist from Reid in doing so.