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Keys to Victory: Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley head back to the desert


News has been flying back and forth between New York and Las Vegas all week, and pretty soon the Giants will make the trip themselves.

The NFL awoke Wednesday morning to find out the Raiders relieved Josh McDaniels and David Ziegler of their duties as head coach and general manager, respectively. While Champ Kelly took over the latter duties, the interim head coach will be Giants legend Antonio Pierce, who was in his second season as linebackers coach.

The former captain and Super Bowl champion will face his former team Sunday in the Giants' first-ever game in Las Vegas. Here are three keys to victory for Big Blue:

Tackle 8, Cover 17

Interim head coach (Pierce).

Interim general manager (Kelly).

Interim offensive coordinator (Bo Hardegree).

New starting quarterback (rookie fourth-round pick Aidan O'Connell).

The Raiders have a lot of moving parts that the Giants will try to feel out, but there are two constants: six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams and 2022 NFL rushing champion Josh Jacobs.

"I think that's a tough one," Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale of what to expect. "I think that the offensive coordinator, I've been in those shoes before, not mid-season as far as becoming a coordinator, but it takes a while for coordinators to find themselves as well. But you'll see his personality early in the game as far as the coordinator goes.

"The rookie quarterback is going to be a rookie quarterback. The quarterbacks in this league, they can either come out and be real hot, or quick games, I'm sure we'll see more screens than ever, especially on third down and things like that where they get the ball out of his hands quick. It's going to be a great challenge for us because the kid has talent. We know he's going to get the ball to 17 (Adams) and we know he's going to hand the ball off to No. 8 (Jacobs). So, I think whoever is playing quarterback, they're going to get the ball to 17 and hand the ball off to No. 8."

"I've been on the other side of that, too," coach Brian Daboll said. "When I was at Miami, Todd Bowles took over. Again, you have to really focus on your team and getting prepared and watching all the games. You can only do so much. They didn't change coordinators in Miami, but I've been there on the other side of it, so we'll do our normal preparation and try to get ready to play our best game."

Rekindle the desert magic

Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley have not been on the field together since their historic comeback in Week 2 at Arizona. Meanwhile, the Giants are looking to get back starting tackles Andrew Thomas, who has not played since the season opener, and Evan Neal, who missed the past two games.

"We haven't had all of our guys on the field at once in a long time," Barkley said. "So it'd definitely be good, when you have your playmakers and some of your best players out there and we gel well together. To say that we're going to pick it up, score however many points, four touchdowns in a half, I can't sit here and guarantee that, but it'll definitely give us a better opportunity to win football games when your best players are out there on the field."

Be ready for the energy of AP's Raiders

Pierce was known as a field general in his playing days, and now he is leading his own team as head coach for the foreseeable future. The Raiders have acknowledged there is no "magic button" to fix things, but there has been an inevitable energy change this week.

"Don't get confused, it's not a celebration that we have a new coach and there's been changes made," Adams said. "I think it was time. One way or the other it was time for some sort of change just to bring a little juice in and revitalize the team a little bit. I think it's more of a mindset that we're trying to not force but just have moving forward to just be as positive as possible. And we do have a change, so there's more of a reason, like a definitive shift. We have a thing put in place now where we can say, 'All right, well things are different now, but we've got an opportunity to change it.' So I think that's kind of the mindset we're having, just trying to have fun and enjoy our time in this building."

Meanwhile, Pierce didn't want to make it about him against his former team.

"It's not Antonio Pierce versus the New York Giants," he said. "[It's the] Las Vegas Raiders versus the Giants, coming to our house. [It would be 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."

Stats to impress your fellow football fans

With a game-high 128 yards on a career-high 36 carries last week, Barkley increased his career total to 4,661 rushing yards, moving him ahead of Alex Webster (4,638) into fifth place on the Giants' all-time list. Brandon Jacobs is fourth with 5,087 yards. Barkley has 1,064 rushing attempts, which is seventh in franchise history, just two behind Ron Johnson. Barkley's 17th career 100-yard game tied him with Rodney Hampton for third on the Giants' all-time list, behind Tiki Barber (38) and Joe Morris (19).

Barkley's 36 rushing attempts were the most by an NFL running back since Dec. 10, 2017, when Frank Gore, then with the Colts, had 36 carries for 130 yards at Buffalo. It was the highest total for a Giants back since Dec. 5, 1999, when Joe Montgomery had 38 for 111 yards, also in a home game against the Jets.

Kayvon Thibodeaux's 8.5 sacks is the highest total by a Giants player through eight games since Jason Pierre-Paul had 9.5 in 2011. JPP finished that season with 16.5 sacks.

The Raiders are the first team since the 2013 Jaguars to score 21 or fewer points in each of their first eight games of a season.

Eight players were officially traded on the day of the 2023 NFL trade deadline, second-most in any year since 2010.

View rare photos of the history between the Giants and Raiders ahead of their Week 9 matchup.


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