- Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer
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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.”