NFL Nation: 2013 Week 10 NFL Buzz

Upon Further Review: Buccaneers Week 10

November, 12, 2013
TAMPA, Fla. -- An examination of four hot issues from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 22-19 victory against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night:

[+] EnlargeBrian Leonard
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsBrian Leonard rushed for 57 yards on 20 carries after Mike James was injured.
The depleted backfield. The Bucs lost rookie running back Mike James to a fractured ankle early in the fourth quarter. Backups Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey did a nice job filling in, but can they do it for the rest of the season? The Bucs don’t have much choice besides Leonard and Rainey because Doug Martin and Jeff Demps already are on injured reserve.

The run defense. Tampa Bay’s run defense, which was ranked No. 1 in the league last season, was ordinary in the first eight games of this season. But that changed Monday night. The Bucs held the Dolphins to two yards of net rushing (a franchise record).

Schiano Watch. One win isn’t enough to take coach Greg Schiano off the hot seat, but it does provide some hope that he might keep his job for next season. If the Bucs can build off this game and win the majority of their games in the second half of the season, Schiano could have a chance of sticking around.

Revis is ready. The Bucs didn’t unveil the full Darrelle Revis in the early stages of the season because he wasn’t fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered last year. But the Bucs have been taking the reins off Revis gradually in recent weeks and that trend continued. Revis helped limit Mike Wallace to four catches for 15 yards. Revis also recorded an interception.

Locker Room Buzz: Buccaneers

November, 12, 2013
TAMPA, Fla. -- Observed in the locker room after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 22-19 victory against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

James out: The first player out of the locker room was on crutches. It was rookie running back Mike James, who left the game early in the first quarter with an ankle injury. And the postgame news wasn’t good at all. Coach Greg Schiano said James suffered a fractured ankle.

Backups stepped up: Schiano said backup running backs Brian Leonard and Bobby Rainey were excellent with ball security and that helped seal the win.

Surprise score: Left tackle Donald Penn said he’s been lobbying all season for the Bucs to use the tackle-eligible pass. They used it Monday night and it resulted in a Penn touchdown.

Foster is back: Schiano said middle linebacker Mason Foster bounced back in strong fashion after having a couple of rough games.

Locker Room Buzz: Miami Dolphins

November, 12, 2013
TAMPA, Fla. -- Observed in the locker room after the Miami Dolphins' 22-19 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

No excuses: Dolphins players offered no excuses for falling to the winless Buccaneers. Center Mike Pouncey and others admitted Tampa Bay played better and deserved to win. The Buccaneers jumped out to a 15-0 lead early and held on.

The boss: Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was in the locker room and didn’t seem too thrilled with another loss. Miami lost its fifth game in six tries.

HOF: Hall of Fame running back Curtis Martin was in attendance. He was a guest of the Dolphins after being appointed by Ross to be a part of a task force to clean up the locker-room culture.

Locker Room Buzz: Dallas Cowboys

November, 11, 2013
NEW ORLEANS -- Observed in the locker room after the Dallas Cowboys' 49-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints.

Same old story: For a team that has been 8-8 the past two seasons, the Cowboys find themselves at .500 once again with six games to play with the defeat.

“We’re a team that’s got to play better football than this in all facets,” quarterback Tony Romo said. “We’ve got to go back and figure out what we need to do to be a better football team because obviously it wasn’t good.”

The Cowboys remain in first place in the NFC East thanks to their Oct. 20 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles (5-5) but have to plug a lot of holes before they play again on Nov. 24 against the New York Giants.

Resignation and disappointment was felt across the locker room. The issue was not the loss to the Saints. The issue was how uncompetitive the Cowboys were.

“I didn’t expect this,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “I didn’t see this coming.”

Doubting the defense: Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin would not be surprised if players would question his scheme. That’s what happens when you allow a franchise-record 625 yards and an NFL record 40 first downs. This came two weeks after they allowed 623 yards to the Detroit Lions with Calvin Johnson pulling down 329 receiving yards.

“We’ve got to get it back,” Kiffin said. “No doubt about it.”

The Cowboys have given up more than 500 yards on offense four times this season and weren’t far off from a fifth with the Giants picking up 478 in the season opener.

Walking wounded: Sean Lee will have an MRI on a hamstring injury he suffered in the first half. He did not know the severity of the injury after the game but he could not even attempt to return. Justin Durant suffered a hamstring injury in the second half. DeMarcus Ware was pulled in the second half after his quadriceps that kept him out for three games tightened up. With the outcome settled, the Cowboys did not want to put Ware at more risk of injury. Add those players to a list of starters out at the beginning of the game in Jason Hatcher, Morris Claiborne and J.J. Wilcox and it was a recipe for a long night against an offense that could not miss.

Locker Room Buzz: Houston Texans

November, 10, 2013
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Observations from the Houston Texans' locker room after a 27-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals:

Reed's opinion: Safety Ed Reed, who saw little playing time on Sunday, said he couldn't reveal all his thoughts after Sunday's loss to the Cardinals, but he did say that at times the Texans were "outplayed and outcoached."

Quiet coach: Texans interim head coach Wade Phillips spoke so softly, he was barely audible after the game. "We had the ball with two minutes left in the game three points behind. That's where you need to come through."

Watt pensive: Most of his teammates got right to work getting showered and changed after the game. Texans defensive end J.J. Watt spent quite a bit of time sitting at his locker in the corner of the visiting locker room, scowling.

Kicking-game struggles continue: "It was just a guy who got a jump off the edge, got in, got his hand on it," said kicker Randy Bullock, who made one field goal and had one blocked. "It still had a chance, but it fell short. It’s frustrating when we lose by three. Forty-yard field goal, and it’s blocked. It’s frustrating, and it hurts."
SAN DIEGO -- Observed in the locker room after the San Diego Chargers' 28-20 loss to the Denver Broncos.

We can play with them: Several players said one takeaway from Sunday’s game is that the Chargers proved they can play with one of the best teams in the NFL. San Diego’s defense held the league’s top-scoring offense scoreless for the final 26 minutes of the contest. And down 28-6 in the second half, Philip Rivers led the Chargers on two second-half touchdown drives to close the deficit to within a score. “We can play with those guys any day of the week,” Chargers receiver Keenan Allen said. “It just came down to not executing in the first half. But we came out, corrected our stuff and made the game a game.”

O-line shuffled: For the second time in three games, the Chargers were down to their final active offensive lineman due to injury. Coach Mike McCoy chose to activate just seven offensive linemen for Sunday’s game, even though two games ago against Jacksonville the Chargers had to use all eight active offensive linemen because of injuries suffered during the game. Against the Broncos, left tackle King Dunlap suffered his third concussion of the season and center Nick Hardwick suffered a neck stinger. Rich Ohrnberger replaced Hardwick at center, and D.J. Fluker moved from right tackle to fill in for Dunlap at left tackle. Jeromey Clary bumped from right guard to right tackle, and Chad Rinehart entered the game to play right guard. If another San Diego offensive lineman had suffered an injury, tight end John Phillips likely would have been the next man up. “If you could have told me that two of them were going to go down, I would have done something different,” McCoy said. “But I think for the football team, the roster that we had, the injuries that we had and the guys who were not playing, I think it was the best thing for us to do.”

Butler’s back: After missing three games with a groin injury, inside linebacker Donald Butler made an impact in his first game back. He finished with seven tackles, a fumble recovery and nearly an interception, providing some stability and playmaking ability from the middle of San Diego’s defense. Butler said he made it through the game without any issues. “I feel great,” Butler said. “After missing three weeks, it felt really good to get back out there with the guys.”

Locker Room Buzz: Arizona Cardinals

November, 10, 2013
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Observed in the locker room after the Arizona Cardinals' 27-24 win against the Houston Texans.

Surprise, surprise: Rookie running back Andre Ellington said coach Bruce Arians surprised him Monday with plans for the Wildcat. Ellington had run it before in college, so he was used to playing behind center, but he said his arm isn’t good enough to throw passes.

Whislin’ Dixie: Arians said he thought three whistles were blown before running back Rashard Mendenhall fumbled late in the fourth quarter. And he's not the only one. Another offensive player said he thought the play was whistled dead before Texas defensive end J.J. Watt stripped Mendenhall.

Never out of it: A reporter began a question to Andre Roberts by informing the wide receiver that at 5-4 the Cardinals were now in the playoff hunt. Roberts didn’t miss a beat with his reponse: “Yeah, I didn’t know we were out of the playoff hunt.”

Bean counters: Veteran linebacker Karlos Dansby dropped two more interceptions Sunday, and his teammates took notice. He's had a handful throughout the season, and after every one, he gets a good ribbing. After the Houston game, Larry Fitzgerald smiled and laughed a little before telling the media that he's definitely counting up Dansby's drops.

Locker Room Buzz: Carolina Panthers

November, 10, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO -- Observed in the locker room after the Carolina Panthers' 10-9 victory over the San Francisco 49ers:

Happy owner: I'm sure Jerry Richardson gets to the locker room after just about every game, but this was the first time I've seen him this season. And he was one happy owner, shaking hands like a politician after winning an election.

Full belly: Thanks to quarterback Cam Newton recovering his own fumble with about two minutes to go, coach Ron Rivera still had his lunch. "I about threw up,'' Rivera said as he studied the statistic sheet.

All tied up: Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott was doing a nice job tying his necktie as the locker room emptied, but he did a nicer job tying up the 49ers. They had 45 yards in the second half.

Unknown voice: I'm not sure who said them, but the words "survive and advance'' rang through the room as players celebrated their fifth straight win.

Hardly see Hardy: Defensive end Greg Hardy was all over quarterback Colin Kaepernick on the field, but you could hardly find him as he sat fully dressed in sweats deep in his locker with a total look of satisfaction.
SAN FRANCISCO -- Observed in the locker room after the San Francisco 49ers' 10-9 loss to the Carolina Panthers:

Quiet place: This loss hurt the 49ers and the locker room was sedate afterward. They hadn’t lost since Sept. 23 and had crushed opponents during their five-game win streak. The 49ers knew they had opportunities, so players were not pleased with being shut out in the second half Sunday. The 49ers had scored at least 31 points in every game during the win streak.

Harbaugh stays positive: When the 49ers fell to 1-2, coach Jim Harbaugh said the next day that he relished the opportunity to face adversity and whip it. Sunday after this heartbreaking loss, Harbaugh had the same attitude. “It's a sinking feeling,” Harbaugh said. “We didn't get the job done as a team. We'll bounce back. We'll come storming back."

Davis injury hurt: Harbaugh said the loss of tight end Vernon Davis hurt the 49ers. It limited the alignments the team could use. The 49ers were a much weaker offense in the second half with Davis out with a concussion.

Locker Room Buzz: Philadelphia Eagles

November, 10, 2013
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Seen and heard in the Philadelphia Eagles' locker room after their 27-13 victory against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

Chip Kelly has a better winning percentage at Lambeau than Vince Lombardi: OK, so Kelly has coached just one game here while Lombardi went 32-7-1 on this field. Still, it was another new experience for the rookie NFL head coach.

“Special place,” Kelly said. “It’s one of the iconic places in football. The fans were really, really good. Most of the time when we come in on a bus, we don’t have people clapping for us. I think it says something about the fans here in Green Bay, they’re just big fans of the game. There’s so much history. That was the same field Vince Lombardi coached on. I think that’s pretty neat. It’s a lot neater when you win.”

It’s OK to be lucky as well as good: Nick Foles caught breaks on his first two touchdown passes. The first was deflected by a Packers defensive back and floated into the hands of DeSean Jackson. “You have to stay with the play,” Jackson said. “He didn’t catch it and I did.”

The second was underthrown. Riley Cooper saw it. The two defensive backs covering him didn’t. Cooper circled back, caught the ball at the 1-yard line and rolled into the end zone. “A few guys told me it looked like a baseball play,” said Cooper, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies before deciding to play football at Florida. “In baseball, you have a glove to block the sun. Here I didn’t.”

It’s better to be Goode than lucky: Linebacker Najee Goode played mostly on special teams before inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks left with a knee injury in the first quarter. Goode had an eventful game, blitzing Packers quarterback Scott Tolzien a couple times and almost getting his first career interception.

“I got to get some Jugs [radar gun],” Goode said. “I was playing aggressive on the tight end, just trying to beat him up on the line of scrimmage and then breaking on the ball. Adrenaline is moving so fast. I probably should have calmed down to catch that ball.”

Locker Room Buzz: Indianapolis Colts

November, 10, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- Observed in the locker room after the Indianapolis Colts’ 38-8 loss to the St. Louis Rams:

An emotional surprise: The Inocencio family thought they were getting a new Toyota at halftime that was donated by Colts punter Pat McAfee. It turns out the family got something better than the car. Army Sgt. Jeremy Inocencio surprised his family by being inside the car after returning home from an overseas deployment. Inocencio’s emotional surprise caused a lot of hugs and tears of joy. “Those things are so awesome," McAfee said. "Anytime you see a kid going up to his dad, who he hasn’t seen in months. His dad is a hero fighting for our country. It’s an unbelievable moment, and I hope they will remember it forever because their dad is such a hero.”

Wanted to continue playing: Colts quarterback Andrew Luck said his preference was to finish the game despite being down by 30 points midway through the fourth quarter. Coach Chuck Pagano pulled Luck because the outcome had already been decided and they play again on Thursday at Tennessee. Sunday was only the second time in Luck’s career that he did not take every offensive snap. “I think any competitor is going to want to stay in the game,” Luck said. “You understand at the end of the day, Coach Pagano is making the decisions, and he’s thinking on a much more macro scope of things. Understand his decisions are final.”

Injury update: Guard Mike McGlynn left the game in the second half with a thumb injury. He’s scheduled to get an MRI. Safety Larry Asante went out with a hamstring injury. Pagano said he didn’t know the extent of his injury.

Locker Room Buzz: Cincinnati Bengals

November, 10, 2013
Observed in the locker room after the Cincinnati Bengals' 20-17 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Perturbed by penalties: The Bengals were glad to get A.J. Green's 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown reception at the end of regulation, but they didn't want to talk much about it. Instead, penalties were the hot topic of conversation in the locker room. Cincinnati was flagged nine times for 134 yards. It held a 7-2 advantage in penalties at halftime. "You can't speak about the refs without getting fined," cornerback Chris Crocker said, "but I'm not going to totally agree with what happened." Coach Marvin Lewis said the calls seemed one-sided at times.

Total-yard shocker: As a few reporters walked past the defensive back's wing of the Bengals' cramped visitors locker room inside M&T Bank Stadium, three curious players asked them what the Ravens' total yardage for the game was. When they were told "189," the defenders shook their heads. It isn't often a team loses a game in which it allowed fewer than 200 yards of offense.

Still in it: Center Kyle Cook may not be pleased with the loss, but the Bengals still lead their division, he noted. Not all is lost: "We've got three more division games left, and we'll write our own destiny here."

Locker Room Buzz: Tennessee Titans

November, 10, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Observed in the locker room after the Tennessee Titans' 29-27 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars at LP Field:

Tick, tick: The extra time Mike Munchak took getting to his postgame interview didn’t give him time to come up with any answers, but it did buy some of his players time to make a getaway before another, bigger wave of tough questions arrived. Typically the locker room doors open as the coach heads into his news conference. Munchak took quite a bit longer than that after a loss he couldn’t explain. Kenny Britt, a receiver the Titans are going to need if Damian Williams misses time with a quad injury, was out of the locker room as quickly as anyone.

Bad sign: Jake Locker is awaiting further tests, but his right foot injury had him on crutches in the second half and after the game. He said he was praying it’s not a season-ending injury, which means there is potential it might be. I’m often uncomfortable with the injury-prone label. But Munchak said he can’t imagine Locker’s ready to play in four days, which will mean in two seasons the quarterback has suffered three injuries that will have cost him at least a start. It’s hard for a young team structured to grow around a quarterback to do so when he’s in and out.

Truly miserable: A lot of the team was out of the room when tight end Delanie Walker was still in a towel sitting in front of his locker. How long guys lament a terrible day in the locker room isn’t the surest sign of how much they care. But it’s hard to make a case that he’s not near the top of the list in terms of how upset he was over a result that dropped his team to below .500 again. Stay tuned for some of what he said.

Old friends: Former Colts GM Bill Polian, now of ESPN, and Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell chatted at halftime in the Titans' press box. Caldwell came up as part of Polian’s Indianapolis staff. Check out my Instagram for a picture.

Locker Room Buzz: Baltimore Ravens

November, 10, 2013
BALTIMORE -- Observed in the locker room after the Baltimore Ravens' 20-17 overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Sigh of relief: It was a celebratory locker room following the Ravens' first win since Oct. 6. But, after failing to hold a 17-point lead, the Ravens felt fortunate to pull out the victory. "I don't know if it was as much exciting as one of those where you wipe your forehead and say, 'Whew, Thank God, we got out of this one,'" quarterback Joe Flacco said. "Having said that, it is a big win."

Shaking off the Hail Mary: The Ravens were able to come back to win in overtime after allowing a 51-yard Hail Mary touchdown to tie the game at the end of regulation. How was the atmosphere on the sideline? "It's disappointment, but you don't get disheartened," coach John Harbaugh said. "The game is not over. I'm proud of the fact that our guys looked at it that way. It's not something you have to go walking up and down the bench to make the point. We've got leadership all the way across the board. I'm really proud of them."

Looking to be a playmaker: Ravens safety James Ihedigbo didn't mince words when talking about his big game. "I look at myself as a great player, and that's what I aspire to be," he said. Ihedigbo had the first two interceptions of his career before tipping the pass on the game-tying Hail Mary touchdown. But he bounced back in the fourth quarter when he helped slow down Giovani Bernard on fourth down.

Locker Room Buzz: St. Louis Rams

November, 10, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- Observed in the locker room after the St. Louis Rams' 38-8 win against the Indianapolis Colts.

Never comfortable: The Rams jumped all over the Colts in the first half, taking a 28-0 halftime lead. That dominant performance would have most teams feeling pretty confident about walking away with a win, but the feeling on the Rams' side was a bit more tenuous.

Given Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck's propensity for amazing fourth-quarter comebacks -- he has 10 in less than two full NFL seasons -- the Rams found themselves wondering how many points would be enough.

"What kept going through our mind is Andrew's comebacks, his comebacks, his comebacks, and it’s never enough points," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.

Field-position dominance: It might fly under the radar on a day when so many things went right for the Rams, but one thing they did that they haven't done much of this season is own field position. Outstanding kickoff coverage for the Rams combined with questionable decision-making by Colts kick returners David Reed and Dan Herron left the Colts starting eight of their 14 drives inside their 20, including three inside their 10. A number of Rams pointed out the advantage created by the kickoff coverage after the game.

Bad bye: Fisher stuck by the old coaching cliché that there's never a bad time for a bye week, but a few players in the locker room made it clear they wished they had a game next week. After a disappointing three-game losing streak, those Rams wanted a chance to carry over any momentum generated by a convincing victory.


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