AFC West: 2013 Week 5 Rapid Reaction

OAKLAND -- A few thoughts on the San Diego Chargers27-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

What it means: The Chargers dropped into the AFC West cellar with a loss to the Raiders in the team’s first divisional game. San Diego was the favorite heading into a contest for the first time this season but failed to play with the urgency needed to win on the road.

Blunders and miscues reign: The Chargers turned the ball over five times, and the Raiders converted those miscues into 17 points. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers threw three interceptions, including one on the opening series, which Oakland quarterback Terrelle Pryor quickly converted into a 44-yard touchdown pass to Rod Streater. Eddie Royal's muffed punt was recovered by Oakland’s Chimdi Chekwa and converted into a 47-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal in the second quarter. And Charles Woodson scored a touchdown on a 25-yard fumble return when linebacker Kevin Burnett jarred the ball loose from Danny Woodhead on a big hit in the third quarter. The Chargers also had a field goal try blocked. San Diego’s defense failed to contain Pryor, who finished 18-of-23 passing for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

Offense sputters: San Diego’s offense had been purring through the first quarter of the season heading into Sunday’s contest, but Rivers and the rest of the offense sputtered against the Raiders. The Chargers were shut out in the first half for the first time this season. They finished with more than 400 yards of offense but just 32 rushing yards. The Chargers played most of the contest without their leading rusher, Ryan Mathews, who left the game in the first half with a concussion.

Young receivers play well: Vincent Brown has his best game of the season, finishing with eight receptions for 117 yards, including a long of 51 yards, and rookie Keenan Allen had his second straight productive game, finishing with six catches for 115 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown.

What’s next: The Chargers return home to Qualcomm Stadium to face the Indianapolis Colts next Monday night.

Rapid Reaction: Oakland Raiders

October, 7, 2013

OAKLAND -- A few thoughts on the Oakland Raiders' 27-17 win over the San Diego Chargers:

What it means: The Raiders rode an emotional wave early, thanks in part to the late start time (8:35 p.m. PT) and had just enough to hold off the Chargers. A running attack behind a patchwork offensive line and featuring Rashad Jennings early and Marcel Reece late kept San Diego’s defense honest, and the Raiders’ defense pitched a first-half shutout and had just enough to hold on. Five takeaways -- including their first three interceptions of the season -- by Usama Young, D.J. Hayden and Charles Woodson -- helped the Raiders overcome injuries and personnel shortcomings and to hold on after leading 24-3 entering the fourth quarter.

Stock watch: Rising: Terrelle Pryor. His improvement from week to week as an NFL quarterback has been stunning. Pryor, playing for the first time since suffering a concussion at Denver two weeks prior, completed his first 10 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, including a 44-yard scoring strike to Rod Streater on the Raiders’ first offensive play of the game. He seemed to be playing backyard football in the first half, when he had a perfect passer rating of 158.3. In the second half, though, with the lack of a credible running attack, he fell victim to three sacks. Until their late scoring drive, the Raiders had only one second-half first down … on the first play after halftime. Pryor’s ability to make plays while rolling to the right was the difference.

C-Wood makes history: Woodson was signed not just for nostalgia; he was supposed to provide leadership and a blueprint for professionalism. Five games in, he’s the Raiders’ best player. Period. His 25-yard fumble recovery late in the third quarter not only gave Oakland a 24-3 lead, but it was his 13th career defensive touchdown, tying him with Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the most in NFL history.

What's next: The Raiders (2-3) travel to Kansas City to take on the unbeaten and untied Chiefs (5-0). Oakland has won eight of the past 11 meetings, including six straight in Kansas City.

Rapid Reaction: Denver Broncos

October, 6, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- A few thoughts on the Denver Broncos' 51-48 win over the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium:

What it means: The Broncos were forced to adapt and overcome Sunday. The Cowboys jumped out to a 14-0 lead, Peyton Manning threw his first interception of the season and the Broncos lost three more starters on defense to injuries: cornerback Chris Harris (concussion), defensive end Robert Ayers (shoulder) and linebacker Wesley Woodyard (shoulder). It was all in the pile of trouble for the Broncos, yet they still came away with a win.

Stock watch: It had to happen at some point, but the Broncos' defense has taken some hits on the stat sheet this season with Von Miller and Champ Bailey yet to play in ‘13. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo feasted on the linebackers in coverage throughout the day, and he repeatedly targeted cornerback Tony Carter, who was in the game far more than planned because of Harris’ injury.

Not the usual: The Cowboys' beleaguered secondary, which had surrendered two 400-yard passing games to opposing quarterbacks before the Broncos arrived, was able to limit Denver's ability to get the ball to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas for much of the day. By the time the fourth quarter began, Thomas still had just two catches for 13 yards until he had a well-timed, drive-saving 26-yard reception late in the game to go with another leaping grab with just 1:49 to play.

Bumps and bruises: The Broncos kept 11 defensive backs coming out of training camp -- a rare move for any team (they kept nine out of camp in 2012) -- and they have now needed every one of them. They have kept Bailey on the roster rather than designating him for return from injured reserve now five games into the season, and Harris will have to pass concussion protocol to even return to practice. Suddenly, Quentin Jammer and second-year cornerback Omar Bolden could become extremely important to the Broncos’ defensive plan.

What’s next: The Jacksonville Jaguars entered Sunday’s game as the league lowest-scoring team with 31 points in their first four games -- 13 fewer points than the idle 0-4 Buccaneers had scored in their first four games. Things did not get better as Jacksonville scored 20 Sunday but finished with a pile of injuries for its troubles. The Jaguars will arrive in Denver to find an irate team which narrowly escaped against the Cowboys.

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

October, 6, 2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs' 26-17 win over the Tennessee Titans at LP Field:

What it means: The Chiefs, after leading 13-0 at halftime, survived, but only after a frantic fourth-quarter touchdown drive that was aided by a questionable late-hit penalty against the Titans. Until then, they were miserable in the second half, a collapse so steep that it’s logical to wonder whether the Chiefs were good in the first place. The Chiefs had everything going for them in a lopsided first half but had trouble holding off the Titans, who were playing without injured starting quarterback Jake Locker.

Stock watch: Quarterback Alex Smith had by far his worst game of the season -- throwing a horrible pass in the third quarter that was intercepted. The Titans then went on to score the go-ahead touchdown off the turnover. Smith went on to lead a big fourth-quarter touchdown drive that put the Chiefs ahead for good. Wide receiver Donnie Avery had two big catches of 40-plus yards. Rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper scored a touchdown when he recovered a fumbled punt in the end zone and later had a fourth-quarter interception. Ryan Succop made all of his four field goal attempts, including a 48-yarder with 2:12 to go that put the Chiefs ahead 26-17.

Defensive collapse: The Chiefs allowed the Titans and backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick 153 yards in a dismal third quarter. The Titans climbed to within 13-10 by the end of the period. The Chiefs redeemed themselves with a goal-line stand that featured four plays from the Kansas City 1. They also intercepted Fitzpatrick twice in the fourth quarter.

What’s next: The Chiefs begin a three-game homestand next Sunday when they play the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders have beaten the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in each of the past six seasons.