NFL Nation: 2013 Week 5 NFL Buzz

Locker Room Buzz: New York Jets

October, 8, 2013
ATLANTA -- Observed in the locker room after the New York Jets' 30-28 victory over the Atlanta Falcons:

Rex's speech: Describing the emotion of the win, Rex Ryan said "the key word is 'fearless.'" In fact, that was the theme of Ryan's speech to the team Sunday night at the hotel. Several players mentioned Ryan's speech, saying it was a source of inspiration. Said guard Willie Colon: "Rex gave a hell of a speech. It woke us all up. ... Basically, it was, 'Be fearless, let it loose, don't be uptight.'"

Colon noted how pundits had predicted the struggling Falcons would right their season by beating the Jets, adding that Ryan's response to that was, "Damn with that, we have just as much of a right to be on this stage as they do."

Even-keeled Geno: One thing you have to like about Geno Smith: He doesn't get too high or too low -- at least not publicly. The rookie quarterback acknowledged it was a childhood dream to pull out a game in the final seconds, but there was no self-congratulations. He deflected the praise to his teammates, commending his receivers, blockers and runners. And he also dropped a few compliments for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who called a marvelous game.

Quiet Kellen: It's not often a player in the winning locker room declines to comment, but tight end Kellen Winslow opted for that approach. "It wouldn't be a good choice," he said, muzzling himself instead of saying something inflammatory. Clearly, he was upset about something. Smith shed some light, noting that Winslow was "frustrated" throughout the game. In fact, Winslow, who entered the game with a team-high 16 receptions, was targeted only once. It was a big one, though, a one-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. Winslow's status was iffy before the game, as he was listed as questionable due to chronic pain in his knee.

Locker Room Buzz: Atlanta Falcons

October, 8, 2013
Observed in the locker room after the Atlanta Falcons' 30-28 loss to the New York Jets on Monday:

Keeping his calm: Quarterback Matt Ryan had somewhat of a blank stare on his face as he dashed through the locker room for his postgame press conference. When he stepped to the podium, he was asked immediately about the offense’s inability to punch it in on fourth-and-goal from the 1 before halftime. "I think everybody was ready to go," Ryan said. "That would have been a big score from us before the half. ... When you have those chances, you’ve got to punch it in." Head coach Mike Smith admitted in hindsight, maybe a field goal would have been a better option.

Caught off guard: Safety William Moore tried to explain why the defense imploded on the Jets’ final drive, as rookie quarterback Geno Smith marched his team into field-goal range in seven plays, capped by Nick Folk's 43-yard game-winner: "There were a few situations where they started fast-balling us," Moore said. "It’s hard to get the personnel in. It’s hard to do stuff. It was because didn’t nobody know what they were doing. It was because they were hurrying up, and they took advantage of some of the looks that we had."

Walking wounded: Neither Roddy White nor Jason Snelling were at their lockers after the game. They were probably in the training room after leaving the game with injuries. White suffered a hamstring injury, while Snelling sustained a concussion. "I think it is difficult to see guys get nicked up,’’ Ryan said. "Thought our guys that came in stepped up and did a great job."

Rush to judgment: The Falcons sacked Smith four times, led by Osi Umenyiora with two. However, they needed more pressure on Smith during the final drive. Corey Peters had a sack, too, but downplayed the four sacks. "Honestly when you lose a game, especially the way we did ... the defense had an opportunity to be on the field at the end of the game. We’ve got to come up with a stop, keep them out of field-goal range,’’ Peters said. "At least right now, everything’s kind of a wash. We didn’t play well enough to win. I’m sure after we get to the film, we can find some positives in it. But right now, it’s really all bad."
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Observed in the locker room after the San Diego Chargers' 27-17 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

No excuses: San Diego coach Mike McCoy dismissed injuries or scheduling as an excuse for his team’s poor performance on the road, saying the Chargers need to come prepared to play each week.

“The parity is so good in this league that you’ve got to play your best every week,” McCoy said. “It comes down to you can’t turn the ball over five times and win many football games.”

Fourth-down woes: Trailing 14-0 with just over 10 minutes left in the first half, McCoy called for his team to go for it on fourth-and-1 from Oakland’s 1-yard line. The Chargers spread the field and ran Danny Woodhead up the middle, who failed to move the pile across the goal line. San Diego went into halftime down 17-0.

“I just thought it was a good opportunity for us,” McCoy said about the play. “They had all of the momentum in the game at that point of time. I think we had a good idea in the game. We had a run/pass check in there. Unfortunately they went blitz zero on us, and they made a play. I’d do it again tomorrow.”

Quarterback Philip Rivers said his team scored on a similar play against Tennessee on the goal line two weeks ago. Rivers said the Raiders disguised the blitz well.

“It was close,” Rivers said. “That’s one of those, too, where I’m not so sure he didn’t [get in]. He was close to getting in, but there’s a big pile there so you’re never going to see it.”

No answer for Pryor: San Diego made containing Terrelle Pryor a priority heading into Sunday’s contest. Yet they still allowed Oakland’s quarterback to consistently scramble outside the pocket and make big plays down the field, either with his arm or with his legs.

“He didn’t make many mistakes,” Chargers safety Eric Weddle said. “There were a few times where I could have baited him, and he never forced it in there. He’s shown that he’s gotten better in those situations. But when you turn the ball over five times and give up two easy scores like we did, you’re not going to win many games.”

Locker Room Buzz: Oakland Raiders

October, 7, 2013
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Observed in the locker room after the Oakland Raiders' 27-17 win over the San Diego Chargers.

The Message: Standing like some sentry to Silver and Blackdom was a white dry-erase board with a slew of hand-written thoughts. Among them: “WHY?” “1-3, our record. Does this define us?” “How hungry are you?” and “Bring the wood.” Nowhere to be seen, though, was the blue baseball bat Marcel Reece brought onto the field before the game.

A new crowd: After his first career interception, D.J. Hayden was a popular man in the locker room for media types. For his nearby teammates? Not so much. Not when the throng pushed into Brandian Ross’ space. “Breakfast on D.J.,” Ross said, several times, before getting frustrated and stalking off, saying, “Man, why you bringing this heat over here?”

Of handoffs and hamstrings: Rashad Jennings, who was lost to a hamstring strain a week after becoming the starting running back in the wake of Darren McFadden’s strained hammy, dressed slowly and walked out gingerly.

Stylin’ and profilin’: Sio Moore yelled out to the nattily attired Charles Woodson, commenting on his expensive threads. Woodson’s response? “When you have 13 [defensive TDs], this is how you dress.”
Observed in the locker room after the San Francisco 49ers' 34-3 win over the Houston Texans Sunday night:

McDonald worried: Defensive tackle Ray McDonald said he is concerned about a right bicep injury. McDonald said he felt a sting when he was injured. He has a MRI scheduled for Monday. It would hurt the 49ers if he misses extensive time.

Staying calm: Defensive players said veterans kept the sideline calm after Tramaine Brock returned a Matt Schaub interception 18 yards for a touchdown on the first drive of the game. Leaders made sure younger players knew there was still a lot of football left to play.

Shy star: Brock reluctantly spoke to a throng of media members after the game. He’s been camera shy since training camp. But now that he has supplanted Nnamdi Asomugha as the No. 3 cornerback, Brock may have to get used to the attention.

Deep defense: Players were boasting the 49ers defense being deep. Even with injured players this defense has been dominant the past two weeks, allowing a combined 14 points.

Locker Room Buzz: Houston Texans

October, 7, 2013
SAN FRANCISCO -- Observed in the locker room after the Houston Texans' 34-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Coach is succinct: The first question for Texans coach Gary Kubiak was whether or not Matt Schaub was his starter: "Yes, he is," Kubiak replied, simply.

Leaving the field: Prior to walking into the locker room, Schaub was the fourth player off the field as the 49ers ran out the clock. Schaub was heckled roundly by San Francisco fans as he walked but stared straight into the tunnel. Andre Johnson was one of the last players to leave the field, and as he approached the sideline, he began peeling off his jersey and shoulder pads.

Support of a friend:Center Chris Myers is one of Schaub's closest friends on the team, and Myers offered support for Schaub postgame. He stressed that Schaub helped lead the Texans to a 20-3 halftime lead last week. "He's in a slump a little bit, but he's got the whole team at his back."

Locker Room Buzz: Dallas Cowboys

October, 6, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Observed in the locker room after the Dallas Cowboys' 51-48 loss to the Denver Broncos.

A moral victory? It sure sounded like owner and general manager Jerry Jones was making that claim in the locker room after that game.

“You’ll probably see about the quietest dressing room that I’ve ever been involved in,” Jones said. “I’m so proud of these guys. We certainly did do some things that we got to improve on, but in general, if we play football like that … We all know what kind of team Denver is, if we play like that, then we’ll be right there at the end and we’re going to win a lot, if not all the rest of our football games like that. I’m really so proud, because I have such respect for Denver.”

Second-guessing clock management: Jason Garrett had two decisions in the fourth quarter backfire on him and lead to Denver’s game-tying touchdown and game-winning field goal.

Garrett elected to accept a holding penalty on the Broncos, setting up second-and-goal from the 17 instead of a third-and-goal from the 7 with 3:16 to play. Peyton Manning found Wes Welker covered by linebacker Ernie Sims for a 16-yard completion to the 1, and the Broncos tied the game on the next play.

On the winning drive, Garrett elected to have the defense hold firm on a third-and 1 at the Dallas 2 instead of allowing the Broncos to score. When Knowshon Moreno converted the first down, the Broncos were able to kill the clock for Matt Prater's 28-yard field goal to win it.

“You’re balancing the idea of trying to get a stop there,” Garrett said. “You get stop there, they kick a field goal you give yourself a much better chance to tie the ballgame coming back. If you give them the opportunity to go score a touchdown and kind of give up, you do give yourself a chance to go back and score a touchdown, but again you have no timeouts and all that. You weigh those out. We decided to go try to make a stop. He made it by about an inch.”

Put it on the defense: Peyton Manning is playing better than any quarterback in perhaps the history of the game, but that doesn’t matter to Sean Lee. While the loss will be pinned ultimately on Tony Romo's interception, Lee wasn’t having that either.

“You have to give the (Cowboys) offense an unbelievable amount of credit,” Lee said. “They scored 48 points. The fact that we weren’t able to win when the offense scored 48 points is absolutely unacceptable. We have to find a way to be a better defense. Right now we’re not a good defense. Two weeks in a row we’ve given up way too many points and way too many yards.”

Locker Room Buzz: Denver Broncos

October, 6, 2013
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Observed in the locker room after the Denver Broncos 51-48 win against the Dallas Cowboys:

Don’t tell: Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said, in order to get everyone else on offense to sell it as a business-as-usual run play, he didn’t tell anyone, either in the huddle or on the sideline, that he planned to run the naked bootleg for a 1-yard touchdown just before halftime. He made the decision as soon the Dallas defender covering tight end Julius Thomas went in motion with the tight end. “If you do it every five years, it’s a good tendency-breaker,’’ Manning said.

Battered: The Broncos had a substantial injury report and will have plenty of players to be evaluated Monday. Defensive end Robert Ayers (left shoulder), linebacker Wesley Woodyard (neck) -- the Broncos said it was a shoulder injury during the game -- cornerback Chris Harris (concussion), and running back Ronnie Hillman (left ankle), all eventually did not return to the game. Hillman was walking with just a slight limp following the game and was set to return to Denver with his ankle taped.

Get used to it: Broncos safety Rahim Moore has been Manning’s teammate for less the two seasons, but says it would take a lot to surprise him about the future Hall of Famer. “He’s a special player, a special player who makes special plays … He’s done it over and over again.’’

Hit the road: There were plenty of Broncos, coaches included, who noticed just how many Broncos fans had wheeled and dealed themselves into the crowd of 92,758 for the game. Coach John Fox said; “It was surprising, I had our whole team convinced it was us against the whole stadium, and I wasn’t telling the truth.’’

Locker Room Buzz: Carolina Panthers

October, 6, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Observed in the locker room after the Carolina Panthers' 22-6 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

It's my fault: Wide receiver Steve Smith doesn't usually drop touchdown passes or avoid answering questions after losses. He did both on Sunday. "Blame the loss on me," he said without answering questions. "I'm the scapegoat. It's all I got."

Life Savers moment: Center Ryan Kalil had his arm around the shoulders of guard Amini Silatolu, whose right leg was wrapped and in a brace after a second-half injury that the Panthers are hoping isn't as serious as it appears.

Iceman cometh: It looked worse than it is. Bandages were wrapped around wide receiver Brandon LaFell's upper torso to support a huge bag of ice on his back. He was hurting worse from a dropped first-down pass inside the Arizona 15. "It's bad, man," he said.

Lot going on: Quarterback Cam Newton has a reputation for being a flashy dresser, but there was a lot to digest in travel attire that included a blue plaid jacket, blue sweater, red plaid shirt and red tie. It was kind of like his game that included three interceptions, a fumble and two tackles.

Locker Room Buzz: Indianapolis Colts

October, 6, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS -- Observed in the locker room after the Indianapolis Colts' 34-28 victory over the Seattle Seahawks:

Fired up: The Colts were struggling, were down 12-0 and the offense had had three straight three-and-out possessions. That's when safety Antoine Bethea got the players together on the sideline and gave them earful that wasn't meant for young children to hear. “He called everybody over and told us to wake up,” receiver Reggie Wayne said. “A couple of expletives in there. That's what leaders do.”

Taking one away: Speaking of Wayne, he plans to take fellow receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey out to dinner after he took a catch away from him in the fourth quarter. Heyward-Bey was in position to make the catch when Wayne stepped in and hauled in the 19-yard pass along the sideline at the Seattle 3. The Colts scored on the next play to take a 31-28 lead. “It was one of those things where we both were open,” Wayne said. “I got a little hungry. That's my mistake. I'm glad I at least caught it."

Had no idea: Receiver T.Y. Hilton, who finished with a career-high 140 yards, had no idea quarterback Andrew Luck threw the ball to him on his 73-yard touchdown catch until the crowd started cheering when the ball was in the air.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Observed in the locker room after the Philadelphia Eagles' 36-21 victory over the winless New York Giants:

Stumbled, humbled. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks intercepted the first pass of his NFL career. He probably should have scored his first touchdown, as well. But Kendrick lost his footing a little bit and was tripped up from behind by Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. It must be noted that Jacobs is not exactly the speediest runner in football. "I know I'm faster than him, he knows I'm faster than him," Kendricks said, shaking his head in disbelief. "He got me, though." Kendricks had an ice pack on his knee, but said that was unrelated: "I just got cut [blocked] a little bit," he said.

Blur defense. Brandon Boykin wasn't able to break down his interception quite as well. The slot corner was matched up with Victor Cruz in the fourth quarter. Eli Manning threw the ball for Cruz. Boykin lunged, got a hand on it and somehow managed to get control of the ball before hitting the ground. The play was reviewed by the officials and confirmed as an interception. "It happened too fast," Boykin said. "When I felt it, I just tried to establish possession. A lot of times, if it's a tie, they give it to the receiver."

5-for-5. Kicker Alex Henery missed a field goal in each of the Eagles' three losses. All were from the mid-40s. Coach Chip Kelly had expressed confidence in Henery all along, but the questions were different after Henery hit five kicks from 40, 27, 29, 36 and 41 yards. The last one gave the Eagles a 22-21 lead late in the third quarter. "I think myself and him were the most surprised with the three misses that he had this year," Kelly said.

Familiar face(mask). The Eagles faced a third-and-2 situation early in the third quarter. LeSean McCoy got the carry and headed toward the right side. He was met by a Giants defensive lineman who wrapped him up and dropped him for a 6-yard loss. It was Mike Patterson, McCoy's teammate for the first four years of his Eagles career. "I messed with him," McCoy said. "Even though he made the stop, I messed with him. He's just a Giant now."
ST. LOUIS -- Observed in the locker room after the Jacksonville Jaguars' 34-20 loss to the St. Louis Rams.

Feeling bad: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew said he felt terrible about left tackle Luke Joeckel's injury because he was one of the players that ended up rolling on Joeckel's right leg. "It's always tough to see a guy that you count on go out. It's tough when you're the guy who probably hurt him, too, which was me," he said. "You never want to run up anyone's back like that."

Run down: The Rams entered Sunday ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards per game (47.3) but they put up a season-high 143 yards. "We felt like we were well-prepared and we did a solid job for the most part," Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny said. "Then we let up a couple runs, missed a couple tackles, let a guy fall forward after hitting him ... the next thing you know they are over 100 yards."

Minus-3: The Jaguars elected to take a field goal off the board in the third quarter when St. Louis cornerback Janoris Jenkins lined up offside. Blaine Gabbert's fouth-down pass in the end zone was intercepted. Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said he made the decision because they trailed by 14 points and needed some momentum.

Locker Room Buzz: Kansas City Chiefs

October, 6, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Observed in the locker room after the Kansas City Chiefs' 26-17 win over the Tennessee Titans:

One of the last unbeatens: At the time their game concluded, the Chiefs were one of just two 5-0 teams, the New Orleans Saints being the other. The day could end that way depending on how the Broncos fare against the Cowboys. That didn’t escape their attention. “I don’t want to stop,’’ running back Jamaal Charles said. “I want to keep going. I’ve never been 5-0 in my NFL career.’’

Succop’s big day: Ryan Succop made all four of his field goal attempts, including a 48-yarder on a wet field for the game’s final points. Succop is 9-of-9 this season inside of 50 yards and 1-of-3 beyond.

Injuries: Starting wide receiver Donnie Avery, who had two catches of more than 40 yards, had difficulty raising his arm afterward. He was injured late in the first half and returned for a handful of plays in the third quarter. X-rays were negative and the Chiefs called the injury a bruised shoulder.

Locker Room Buzz: Tennessee Titans

October, 6, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Observed in the locker room after the Tennessee Titans' 26-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs at LP Field:

Expectations: Last week’s locker room was somber after a win because of Jake Locker's injury. This week’s was sober because the Titans have graduated to a place where they expect to win a game against a team like the Chiefs, even if Tennessee is bad for long stretches. It's good to have those expectations, and maybe it’ll have a positive impact somewhere down the road, but this loss was the difference between 3-2 and 4-1. Gigantic.

Still struggling: Kenny Britt continues to struggle. They gave him more chances in this game and he caught one of six balls thrown his direction. One of the misses came on a third-and-2 with the Titans trying to hold on to a 17-13 lead. That’s’ the one offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said upset him the most. As for Britt going forward, Loggains said: “We have to reassess everything at this point.”

Minty fresh: I had a good, solo conversation with center Rob Turner after the game, primarily about the call against Moise Fokou that was instrumental on the Chiefs' drive that put them ahead for good. (More to come on that.) Turner was brushing his teeth at his locker and I thought he might ask for a second, but he talked right through it, excused himself to spit in a nearby garbage can and kept right on going. He and his guard help had a tough time with defensive tackle Dontari Poe, who has seven tackles and a sack and is a handful for anyone these days.
CHICAGO – Observed in the locker room after the New Orleans Saints' 26-18 victory over the Chicago Bears:

Brees unchallenged: Saints quarterback Drew Brees admitted he was "a bit shocked" to find out New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass ended at 52 on Sunday. Brady was expected to challenge Brees' NFL record 54-game streak when the Saints and Patriots meet next Sunday in New England.

"It's a crazy game," Brees said. "I think in my mind I just assumed that he was gonna break it, that there was no doubt. … But it just means that they're gonna be pretty salty next week, and we're gonna get their best game, there's no doubt about that."

"Smart" plan: The buzz word after Sunday's game was "smart." That was the Saints' plan to finally win at Chicago -- and they stuck to it by winning the turnover battle (1-0), the time of possession battle and the field position battle.

Evans healing: The Saints did not report any new injuries. And guard Jahri Evans said he's feeling better after a hamstring injury plagued him for most of September. Evans certainly looked good getting upfield on Pierre Thomas' 25-yard screen pass touchdown.

Slippery slope: The Saints knew the long, soft grass at Soldier Field would be an issue. But Thomas admitted it took some time to adjust and learn to stay patient. He was one of a handful of Saints who slipped early, missing out on a potential touchdown.