AFC West: 2013 Week 6 NFL Buzz

SAN DIEGO -- Observed in the locker room after the San Diego Chargers 19-9 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

Novak on the money: San Diego kicker Nick Novak finished 4-for-4 on field goals, including a season-long 50-yarder with 1:22 remaining to seal the win. Novak said he received an extra boost trying to match kicks with one of the best clutch kickers in the game in Indianapolis' Adam Vinatieri, who finished 3-for-3.

“I’m a big Rocky fan,” Novak said. “So I just try to keep that eye of the tiger, keep that focus mentality where I come through for the team and do my job. Vinatieri was doing the same thing. Even going against a guy like Vinatieri, I try to lift my game and match him kick for kick. He’s a competitor, and I love that.”

Mathews hits century mark: For the first time since a Dec. 11, 2011, contest against Buffalo when he rushed for 114 yards, San Diego running back Ryan Mathews topped the 100-yard mark in a regular-season game. Mathews finished with 102 yards on 22 carries. He said breaking the 100-yard mark still means something.

“You want to reach that peak as often as you can,” Mathews said. “I just have to give all the credit to my O-line. They did a great job tonight, just pushing guys out of the way and opening up those holes.”

San Diego coach Mike McCoy said his team went into Monday’s contest against Indianapolis focused on running the football after finishing with just 36 rushing yards against Oakland last week.

“Everyone took it to heart how we ran the football last week, which was poor, to say the least,” McCoy said. “I think we averaged 1.7 [yards] a rush last week. It’s unacceptable. The coaches answered the challenge. And we put it out there that we’ve got to run the football better.”

Another turning point? San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers felt Monday night’s game could be a turning point for this team, putting them back into playoff contention, or in evaluation mode for next year.

But San Diego players said the same thing after a big win over Dallas two weeks ago, but then lost to an undermanned Oakland team a week later. So what makes this game different?

“It definitely can, but now we’ve got to see where it turns,” Rivers said. “We started in the right direction, and we’ve got to make it turn that way. This was a big team win. I had the feeling that this was kind of an old-school NFL win, in the sense that we played great defense and we didn’t turn the ball over. We weren’t anything great offensively, but we didn’t turn it over. And we got points at the end of those drives.”

Locker Room Buzz: Denver Broncos

October, 13, 2013
DENVER -- Observed in the locker room after the Denver Broncos' 35-19 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars:

Worries up front: In a season when they have already lost left tackle Ryan Clady for the year because of a foot injury, the Broncos now have to hope for the best with right tackle Orlando Franklin. Franklin left Sports Authority Field at Mile High using crutches after a left knee injury and will get an MRI on Monday. When Franklin left the game, the Broncos moved right guard Louis Vasquez in at right tackle and put Chris Kuper at right guard. Quarterback Peyton Manning was still not sacked in the game.

Tough love: Denver is an old-school football town that lives and breathes with its NFL team, but the level of expectations following this team in the wake of January’s playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens was plainly evident when, leading 14-12 at halftime, the team left the field to the sound of plenty of boos. “I guess they didn’t like the situation at the half," said defensive end Malik Jackson. “I guess if they want to be the coach, they have to come try out for the job."

Turn it over: It was the Broncos' first three-turnover game of the season, with all three Sunday involving Manning in some way. Manning had an interception returned 59 yards for a touchdown by Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny, fumbled a snap and later dropped a low shotgun snap from center Manny Ramirez. Manning, however, was quick to own the plays following the game, even calling the interception “a bad decision, just a complete force."

Ready for Von: Linebacker Von Miller will return to work full-time Monday after finishing his six-game suspension for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy. He is expected to be in the lineup Sunday in Indianapolis against the Colts. “People keep talking about our defense, they haven’t seen our defense yet. [Champ] Bailey just came back today, and we get Von back this week. That’s our defense."

Locker Room Buzz: Kansas City Chiefs

October, 13, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Observed in the locker room after the Kansas City Chiefs' 24-7 win over the Oakland Raiders:

Record noise: Chiefs fans set a Guinness Book of World Records mark for an outdoor event by registering 137.5 decibels during the fourth quarter. The previous record was 136.6 decibels set by a Seattle Seahawks crowd. Even before Chiefs fans set the record, it was loud at Arrowhead Stadium. The Raiders had three penalties each for delay of game and false start. “I give this to the crowd," coach Andy Reid said, referring to the six penalties. “That’s pretty impressive."

Breaking the streak: The Chiefs broke a six-game losing streak to the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. The previous Chiefs victory happened in 2006, when they were coached by Herm Edwards. The Chiefs have changed coaches three times since. They have just three players who were on the roster the last time they beat Oakland at home: linebackers Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson and punter Dustin Colquitt.

Injury report: The Chiefs played parts of the game, including the end, without left tackle Branden Albert. He hyperextended his elbow, returned to the game and bruised his knee. Nose tackle Dontari Poe sprained his ankle but stayed in the game.

Locker Room Buzz: Oakland Raiders

October, 13, 2013
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Observed in the locker room after the Oakland Raiders24-7 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs:

Flashback: It was just outside this locker room, after the 2010 season finale -- in which a 31-10 Oakland victory gave it an 8-8 record, the first non-losing season since 2002 -- that coach Tom Cable uttered his infamous proclamation that the Raiders were no longer losers. I prefer to remember my encounter with the late Al Davis a hallway away. After I offered an opinion that it was a nice end to the season to finish 8-8, Davis sneered, “If that’s the world you live in.” Priceless. A few weeks later, Cable was fired.

Crowded room: The visitors locker room at Arrowhead Stadium is one of the most cramped in the NFL, awkwardly separated by a wall that makes for two cramped quarters. It’s quite a scene, reporters and players bumping into one another as reporters search for sound bites and players scramble for the shower, everyone stepping over equipment bags and dirty laundry.

Getting his work in: On the floor in the middle of the “offensive” room, meanwhile, was receiver Brice Butler, rolling his body over a Styrofoam roller.

Taking his time: Terrelle Pryor was the most sought-after interview. He also took his time getting showered and dressed. Such is the life of an NFL quarterback.