Aidan O’Connell’s two TD passes have Raiders rolling

LAS VEGAS — Break up the Las Vegas Raiders’ offense.

Four days after getting shut out in a 3-0 defeat to the Minnesota Vikings, the Raiders scored a trio of first-quarter touchdowns to take a 21-0 lead over the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night. The Raiders had scored 21 points in a game this season only once before Thursday.

Las Vegas’ first score was a 1-yard TD plunge by Zamir White, his first career score as he was starting in place of injured All-Pro Josh Jacobs. It came on the Raiders’ initial offensive possession. The Raiders had gone 15 straight drives without a point, dating to the final three possessions against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 12. It was their longest such drought since 2019, when they had 18 straight scoreless drives.

The next two scores were set up by a pair of takeaways by the Raiders’ defense — defensive end Malcolm Koonce had a strip-sack of Chargers quarterback Easton Stick which rookie defensive end Tyree Wilson recovered, and safety Marcus Epps popped running back Joshua Kelley to force a fumble, with Raiders defensive tackle Jerry Tillery jumping on the ball.

The first fumble recovery set up an eye-opening touchdown, as rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell found speedy rookie receiver Tre Tucker, who blew by Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. for a 30-yard touchdown catch.

Tucker’s score had to survive the replay process as he appeared to bobble to ball before going out of bounds. After a lengthy review, the initial call of TD stood.

The second recovery set up the Raiders’ third first-quarter TD, with O’Connell finding Jakobi Meyers for a quick 22-yard score.

The Raiders’ 21 points were their most in a first quarter since 2010, when they led 24-0 after one quarter against the Broncos en route to a 59-14 victory. It is also the first time they’ve scored three touchdowns on their first three possessions since 2015 against the New York Jets.

And with 3:50 to play in the second quarter, 12th-year veteran running back Brandon Bolden got in on the fun, scoring untouched out of the Wildcat formation from 26 yards out to give the Raiders a season high in points in taking a 35-0 lead.

It was Bolden’s first score since the 2021 season finale, when he played for the New England Patriots, and the Raiders’ 35 points are their most in any half since the previously mentioned 2010 game against the Broncos, when they led Denver 38-7 at halftime.

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