<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - San Diego Sports News, Photos, and Scores for the Padres, Chargers and More]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.com en-us Thu, 27 Nov 2014 05:10:50 -0800 Thu, 27 Nov 2014 05:10:50 -0800 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Playoff Picture: Who Should Chargers Fans Root For?]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 10:28:35 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+rams+nfl+pic+6.jpg

First the good news: If they playoffs started today, the Chargers would make the six-team field in the AFC. Because of a series of tie-breakers, their 7-4 mark is better than three other teams with an identical record.

The problem is that the season doesn’t end for another month – another brutal month on the schedule that sees the Bolts playing five playoff contenders with nary a cupcake to be found.

“We feel like we’re in playoff mode right now, because every team we’re playing the rest of the season, feels like they can’t lose a game to keep their playoff hopes alive,” said safety Brandon Flowers. “I guess it’s good in a sense. We don’t have any so-called trap games. We gotta give everybody our best shot and we’re going to get everybody’s best shot.”

He’s not kidding.

It seems the later we go in the season, the closer the standings get. In fact, the conference No. 2 and No. 9 are separated by just one game. That includes both of the Chargers’ AFC West rivals – Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. Needless to say, there’s no margin for error from here on out.

1. Patriots – 9-2 (East leader)
2. Broncos – 8-3 (West leader)
3. Bengals – 7-3-1 (North leader)
4. Colts – 7-4 (South leader)
5. Chiefs – 7-4
6. Chargers – 7-4
7. Ravens – 7-4
8. Steelers – 7-4
9. Browns – 7-4
10. Dolphins – 6-5
11. Bills – 6-5

So, who are Chargers fans rooting for? Well, as the Bolts head to Baltimore to take on the Ravens on Sunday at 10 a.m., you can see how big a win would be. Any time you can separate from any of the teams above, it will be huge come playoff time.

But we already knew we’re rooting for the Bolts. Let’s take a look at the rest of the schedule as it pertains to the Chargers.

In the marquee division game, the Chiefs host the Broncos in the Sunday Night Football game on NBC. It would be in the Chargers’ best interest for Kansas City to win. If they do and the Bolts get a victory, we would have a three-way tie atop the West.

The Chargers play both these teams coming up. Needless to say, this thing would be a long way from over.

Even if the Broncos win, it’s not the worst thing. That would put the Bolts a notch ahead of the Chiefs in the wild card race.

Either way, it should be an entertaining game.

Two major anomalies in the league stick out. First, every team in the AFC North has at least seven wins – the only time at this point in the season that’s happened. Also, no team in the NFC South has a better record than 4-7 – also a first.

This becomes important because two big games involve these teams. The New Orleans Saints head to Pittsburgh to play the Steelers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the North-leading Cincinnati Bengals. If one or both of these underachieving NFC teams could pull an upset, that would be huge. Don’t hold your breath.

In other games, Cleveland heads to Buffalo in a game we’d love to see the Bills win and the Jets look to upset Miami in the Monday Night game.

In what should be the best game of the week, Green Bay hosts New England in a battle of the league's two best teams -- and also a possible Super Bowl preview. It probably won't matter much, but Chargers fans would like to see a Packers win just to keep the Pats within striking distance of the rest of the conference.

Strangely enough, no AFC teams play in any of the three Thanksgiving Day games. That means Chargers fans can relax, enjoy some football, family, food … and get ready for a battle on Sunday.

So, to sum up, Chargers fans should root for:

Bills over Browns (10 a.m.)
Redskins over Colts (10 a.m.)
Saints over Steelers (10 a.m.)
Bucs over Bengals (10 a.m.)
Packers over Patriots (1:25 p.m.)
Chiefs over Broncos (5:30 p.m.)
Jets over Dolphins (5:30 p.m. Monday)



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Raiders' Moore Has Learned From Mistake]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:03:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/166*120/SiosecondyearLB.jpg

It was a play that caused other Raiders, fans and broadcasters a heart attack.

After linebacker Sio Moore sacked Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith late in last Thursday night’s game, he and rookie linebacker Khalil Mack celebrated far too long. If the Raiders hadn’t called time out, the Raiders would have incurred a costly offside penalty.

As it was, Moore’s brain cramp didn’t cost his team. Oakland held on to win its first of the season to get to 1-10. But it would have been the ultimate example for a winless, struggling franchise in 2014.

A pair of Raiders veterans, safety Charles Woodson and defensive end Justin Tuck, were at first ecstatic about Moore’s big play – and then furious at him for losing his head.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Woodson told reporters. “That was the first time I had ever seen somebody celebrate for a whole 40-second clock. That was ridiculous, and they know it. I told Sio he’s lucky we got the win because we really probably would’ve had to fight, and I would’ve seen exactly what kind of fighter he is.”

Tuck, who called the timeout to save the Raiders, was overheard in the locker room after the game telling Moore “I wanted to fight you” if Oakland had lost the game.

This week, Moore and his teammates have talked about the incident and are looking ahead and focusing on trying to get a second straight victory Sunday vs. the Rams in St. Louis.

But Moore said he’s learned from the incident.

“I was so caught up in the moment, man,” Moore told reporters. “That was an error I’ve got to make sure I clean up.”

He added that, “I can’t let my emotions get the best of me.”

As Michael Wagaman of ESPN.com noted this week, the excessive celebration mistake would have overshadowed what has been a very strong season for the second-year linebacker from Connecticut.

Moore is tied for the team lead in total tackles with Woodson (82), has a team-leading three sacks and a forced fumble. He was in on 12 tackles vs. the Chiefs.

Moore was a bright spot among the rookie class of 2013 when he played in 15 games and started 11, getting 49 tackles and 4½ sacks. This season, he’s been even better.

With Mack on one side and Moore on the other, the Raiders have a pair of wide-ranging, athletic linebackers as the foundation for a rebuilt defense.

Said head coach Tony Sparano, of the Moore-Mack duo and their almost-costly celebration vs. the Chiefs:

“I love their energy and their passion, but it’s just something we have to learn from.”

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Stopping Seattle's Running Game is Prime Goal for 49ers]]> Wed, 26 Nov 2014 09:02:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/Kolcapvsea.jpg

After watching their team lose to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game in Seattle in January – and then enduring cornerback Richard Sherman’s televised rant vs. San Francisco receiver Michael Crabtree – 49ers fans no doubt would love to see Crabtree have a huge game Thursday night in a victory at Levi’s Stadium.

Yet as delicious as that prospect might be, Crabtree’s performance in the nationally-televised Thanksgiving game (5:30 p.m.) is just a small part of the 49ers’ formula to beat their NFC rivals.

When the two 7-4 teams clash for the first time this season with their playoff lives on the line – oddsmakers have made San Francisco a 1- to 1½-point favorite -- the 49ers ability to come away with a victory will more likely hinge on these three key factors:

Stop the run: The Seahawks are the No. 1 team in the NFL in rushing, averaging 169.6 yards per game and 5.4 yards per attempt. The 1-2 punch of running back Marshawn Lynch (852 yards rushing with nine touchdowns this season) and quarterback Russell Wilson (644 yards and four TDs) is formidable. Though the 49ers have the seventh-best rush defense in the league, both Lynch and Wilson have had success vs. San Francisco in the past. Lynch has a sore back this week, but Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll says he’ll play Thursday night. The Niners defense overall had a solid game last Sunday in the win over Washington, coming up with five sacks and limiting Washington to 177 yards passing, but running back Alfred Morris had 125 yards on the ground vs. the Niners on 21 carries – not an encouraging sign heading into a game vs. the Seahawks. If Lynch can do the same thing, the 49ers will be in trouble. If San Francisco can slow the run and force Wilson to throw, the 49ers’ chances of winning will be much better.

The good Kaepernick: In some ways, 49ers coaches say quarterback Colin Kaepernick has developed to be a much better player in 2014. They say he’s better at reading his progressions and finding the right receiver. And, his overall QB rating of 92.1 this season is ahead of last season’s 91.6 – but below the 98.3 he posted his first season as a starter in 2012. Yet in games against the Seahawks, Kaepernick has been more down than up. In a short career in which he’s been very good in some games and error-prone in others, Kaepernick hasn’t yet had a "wow game" vs. Seattle. In 2012 at Seattle, the 49ers lost 42-13 and his QB rating was 72.0. In 2013, the 49ers beat the ‘Hawks at Candlestick 19-17, but his QB rating was just 67.5, as he completed 15-of-29 passes for 175 yards but was sacked twice and threw an interception. He and the 49ers lost two other games last season to Seattle – including the NFC Championship Game – with the QB posting ratings of 20.1 and 56.4 that included a combined five interceptions and five sacks. The Niners need a solid, play-making game from Kaepernick. At some point, he needs to make a big impact vs. the Seahawks.

Field position: The 49ers return teams need to be much stronger vs. Seattle than they were in the narrow win over Washington. San Francisco had horrible field position all day, starting five drives from their own 10-yard line or worse. That put the 49ers offense in a deep hole all day, and would be disastrous against a much stronger Seahawks defense. Winning the field-position battle Thursday night will be a key in a game that figures to come down to one score being the difference between winning and losing.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Aztecs Advance in Maui]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 22:34:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/aztecs+steve+fisher+preseason.jpg

The 15th ranked Aztecs Maui experience has been a wild one. They won a tight, double-overtime game against BYU on Monday Night. Tuesday, in the tournament semifinals, they cruised to a 74-57 victory over Pittsburgh.

Next up is a familiar foe to Steve Fisher's squad, 3rd ranked Arizona. The Wildcats beat Kansas State in the other semifinal match earlier on Tuesday, 72-68. The Aztecs have a chance at some revenge against Arizona. The Wildcats beat State twice last year, ending the Aztecs season in the Sweet-16 of the NCAA Tournament.

Freshman Trey Kell had his best game as an Aztec. The St. Augustine product scored 15 points, shooting a very tidy 7-of-9 from the floor.

With the victory Fisher set the school record for most wins in school history (317) surpassing George Zigenfuss, who coached on the Mesa from 1948-1969.

Tip-off of the championship game is set for 7:00 pm PST.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Place Center Ohrnberger on Injured Reserve]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 14:43:57 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+raiders+nfl+qualcomm+4.jpg

Is anybody healthy enough to snap the ball around here?

The Chargers once again placed a center on injured reserve, as Rich Ohrnberger will miss the rest of the season with a back injury that might need surgery. That’s the third time this season they’ve had to put someone from that position on the season-ending list.

For Ohrnberger, it ends an otherwise productive season in which he played in eight games, starting seven.

For the Bolts, the position has been a question mark for most of the season. Veteran offensive co-captain Nick Hardwick was supposed to be the rock to solidify the offensive line. But he left the first game of the season with a neck injury that ended his season – and perhaps the career of the 33-year-old.

Then it was Doug Legursky, who went down with a knee injury after Week 5.

Now it’s up to Chris Watt – for now – to fill the role. He started in Sunday’s win over the St. Louis Rams, earning praise from Chargers coach Mike McCoy.

“The way the offensive line played, it gave (running back) Ryan (Mathews) and the rest of the backs the opportunity to make the plays that they did running the football,” McCoy said. “They did an outstanding job with one of the best pass rushers in the league.”

He was referring to Rams defensive end Robert Quinn, who finished second in the league with 19 sacks last year, but was held in check on Sunday.

Linebacker Cordaro Law was called up from the practice squad, making his second appearance on the active roster. He played with the team for three games starting in Week 4, recording seven tackles and one sack.

Undrafted rookie guard Craig Watts may also get his first crack at the active roster if the Bolts see a need to bolster the offensive line.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Scenes from Chargers Win Over Rams]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:04:59 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+rams+nfl+pic+3.jpg The Bolts pulled out a nail-biting 27-24 win over St. Louis at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 12]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 19:20:52 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/459467122.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the twelfth week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Steal Win From Rams]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 16:58:32 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/1123+chargers+2.jpg

After nearly giving away a late 10-point lead, the Chargers defense came up big when it was most needed.

Marcus Gilchrist intercepted a pass on the goal line as the St. Louis Rams were driving for a go-ahead touchdown in the final minute, sealing a 27-24 victory at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.

"The character of our football team is unbelievable," Chargers coach Mike McCoy said. "We just believe in each other."

For much of the day, the Chargers (7-4) looked like they wanted to give away the game. They committed three costly turnovers. They were flagged for eight penalties totalling 85 yards.

Fortunately, they forced the Rams (4-7) to commit three turnovers of their own, including a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

Philip Rivers led a 93-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter, hitting Keenan Allen on a 29-yard touchdown pass to put the Chargers up 10.

It was redemption for both of them. Rivers threw a first-half interception near the goal line that Janoris Jenkins returned for a 99-yard score.

Allen muffed a punt in the third quarter that led to a St. Louis (4-7) touchdown. He also fumbled deep in Rams territory as the Chargers were driving to put the game away. Allen finished with six catches for a game-high 104 yards.

The Rams almost pulled off the miraulous comeback late in the game. Shaun Hill drove them 80 yards, hitting Stedman Bailey on a 12-yard touchdown pass to pull within 27-24.

After forcing a Chargers punt, Tavon Austin returned a kick inside the Chargers 5. But a penalty brought it back. They drove down all the way to the Bolts 4 before Gilchrist made the big pick.

Rivers completed 29 of 35 passes for 291 yards.

Ryan Mathews led the Bolts with 105 rushing yards. His 32-yard touchdown run put the Chargers up 13-10 on their first drive of the second half, but he injured his shoulder on the play and didn't play much of the second half.

Hill was 18-of-35 for 198 yards. Bailey finished with seven catches for 89 yards.

The win keeps the Chargers in the playoff hunt, tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for second place in the AFC West, just a game back of the Denver Broncos, and tied with a number of teams for the final playoff spot.

They now enter a daunting stretch of the schedule, starting with a trip to Baltimore to play the Ravens.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. on Sunday Spotlight]]> Sun, 23 Nov 2014 09:55:36 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP747099438720.jpg New York Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has had a stand-out first season, and recalls that he has always been ready for the Sunday spotlight.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Finalize Injury Report (We Think)]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 23:41:19 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/176*120/491456531.jpg

The Chargers host the Rams on Sunday, and if the Bolts offense is going to continue to struggle like it has been (a distinct possibility against a Rams defense that held the Broncos to seven points last week), San Diego's defense is going to have to be at least as good as it was a week ago against the Raiders.

One of the guys who really made a name for himself in helping the Bolts hold Oakland to six points was defensive tackle Ryan Carrethers. The rookie from Arkansas State made his first career N-F-L start and turned the head of head coach Mike McCoy.

"He really stepped up his game, which was great to see," said McCoy on Monday.

The progress Carrethers has made since training camp was obvious. He made three tackles and disrupted several other plays. But, he was held to just 24 snaps because he sustained an elbow injury. It looked pretty bad coming off the field on Sunday. On Monday, McCoy was asked how Ryan was doing.

"Doing good," said McCoy. "He felt great last night."

So great, in fact, that Carrethers did not practice all week and has already been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Rams. It's good timing that veteran Sean Lissemore is returning from his leg injury. And I suppose, in a week where we had to wonder just what part of quarterback Philip Rivers is hurt, and how severe that injury is, we should just expect to never know how a player is doing.

Speaking of Rivers, the Rams have one of the most imposing pass rushes in football. Their head coach, Jeff Fisher, has told his players to take shots at the stars of other teams in the past. And, don't forget St. Louis defensive coordinator Gregg William is the guy who helped orchestrate the bounty scandal in New Orleans. Rivers knows he's going to take some body shots. But, he knew that when St. Louis appeared on the schedule.

"I don't expect I'll get hit any harder on Sunday than they already try to," said Rivers. "That's part of it. They can only hit us in so many areas now. Those defensive guys don't have a lot of room. The midsection is one of those areas they're allowed to hit, so I'm sure it'll be just like always."

Have we mentioned Philip Rivers is tough lately?

Safety Jahleel Addae and center Rich Ohrnberger are the only other question marks for the Chargers. Everyone else will be available to play.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Buffalo Bills Hitch Rides Aboard Snowmobiles]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:53:34 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/KRAIG+URBIK1.JPG

Up to seven feet of snow wasn't going to stop the Buffalo Bills from flying out to Detroit for Monday’s game against the Jets — even if some players needed a novel way to get to the Bills’ stadium and a bus to the airport.

“Just texted with a Bills player who was picked up on a snowmobile to head to his game,” tweeted Albert Breer, national reporter for the NFL Network. “So in 10 years of covering the NFL, that’s a first.”

The game was supposed to have been played in Buffalo on Sunday, but was moved to Detroit because of the deadly storm.

The blizzard dropped 85 inches of snow on Buffalo, enough to bury Snookie, Jim Kelly and even Yao Ming.

On The MMQB, Peter King describes the planning that went into the "snowmobile rescues."

"I have covered the NFL for 30 years, and I must say I have never heard an NFL executive say he hoped a snowmobile would come up big for his team in advance of a game with big playoff implications," he wrote.



Photo Credit: EMILY URBIK
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<![CDATA[Lakers Look to Sweep Roadie in Dallas]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:52:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Mavericks-Kobe-Dirk-Nowitzki.jpg

On Friday, the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Dallas Mavericks to conclude a road trip that will be viewed as a success regardless of what happens at the American Airlines Center. The Mavs lost three of their first seven games, but Dallas has won five straight entering Friday night.

Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki have been splitting Dallas' scoring load this season with Ellis averaging 19.7 points per game and Nowitzki averaging 19.1 points per game. Ellis is coming off a 34-point outing against the Washington Wizards, but the 36-year-old Nowitzki was drawing praise for hitting a big three late in the game.

On the subject of 36-year-olds, Kobe Bryant still leads the NBA in scoring with 27.5 points per game. In Houston, he scored 29 points and logged 40 minutes on the second night of a back-to-back. At this point, the on-court evidence makes it impossible to question the shooting guard's condition and recovery from major injuries.

Bryant may be the ringleader, but he has help.

Jordan Hill has already collected six double-doubles through 12 games this season. In particular, Hill has been finishing games with put-backs and offensive rebounds that have been crucial in winning games. With 4.7 offensive rebounds per game, Jordan Hill leads the NBA. Also, the big man's jump shot started falling again, and Hill appears comfortable in the Lakers' offense.

If Hill has been finishing strong, Carlos Boozer has been doing the opposite. Boozer has been aggressively scoring the basketball early in games before trailing off a bit in second halves. Against Houston, Boozer struggled mightily in the third and fourth quarters. With Hill and Boozer taking turns offensively, the Lakers appear to be developing a formula for success.

The Lakers' biggest asset at the moment--excluding Kobe Bryant--is Nick Young. The lively personality has drawn significant attention for entering a team locker room that was bordering on toxic and changing it into a happy environment where guys started having fun again. Most importantly, Young's return has resulted in two wins straight wins.

The Lakers and Mavericks tip-off in Dallas at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time.

Notes: Steve Nash and Julius Randle remain sidelined for the remainder of the season. Ryan Kelly is out due to a torn hamstring. Wayne Ellington returns after missing six games due to a family tragedy.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Add to 40-Man Roster]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:52:05 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/178*120/lee+copy.jpg

The Los Angeles Dodgers, Thursday, added pitchers Zach Lee and Chris Reed and outfielder Scott Schebler to the organization’s expanded 40-man roster.

What that does is make all three, technically, Major League players and even if they are assigned to a minor league club, which is the most likely scenario, it moves their names up the list of potential call ups to the 25-man Major League team should they be called upon.

Lee, 23, ended this past season in Triple-A Albuquerque with a 7-13 record with a 5.18 ERA and is rated by Baseball America as the Dodgers fourth-ranked prospect.

The right-hander was the team’s top pick in the 2010 draft and named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year in 2013. With the Dodgers bullpen still in need of a makeover, it’s quite possible Lee could be in the running for a long reliever spot come Spring Training.

Reed finished last season with a 4-11 record and a 4.26 ERA between stops in Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Albuquerque. The 24-year-old also made the all-star team as part of the Lookouts.

The minors are for development not numbers but Reed’s 9-31 record and 4.12 ERA in four minor league seasons is a bit of an eyebrow raiser.

Schebler is rated by MLB.com as the Dodgers ninth-best minor prospect and he’s proved it on the field. Schebler has shown that he’s a legitimate power hitter by blasting 28 home runs in Double-A in 2014, after hitting 27 the year before in the High-A California League. But, just like a power hitter Schebler strikes out way too much. He’s whiffed 250 times in the past two seasons combined.

At 24 years old Schebler is at the age when teams decide if a player will be part of the future, or a placeholder for the next crop of younger talent.

Schebler will have a shot to show what he’s made of in 2015 with his new promotion.

The Dodgers now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jose Canseco Pranks Everyone with Finger Hoax]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 10:56:59 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP565783519558.jpg

Looks like Jose Canseco gave everyone the finger. 

The former Major League Baseball player took to Twitter at the end of October to announce that he had shot off his middle digit and had it reattached during surgery. Last week, Canseco claimed that the mangled finger fell off during a poker tournament because it had been “very loose” and “smelling really bad.” He also said he would be selling the thumb and gun that shot it off on eBay a few days later.

“Maybe I will make it a package the chrome 45 caliber Remington with the finger both for sale a package deal," he tweeted on Nov. 17.

But despite continuing to post on social media about the plan, Canseco reportedly will not be selling his appendage to the highest bidder—it was all just a prank.

When TMZ reporters followed up about the details of the unique eBay sale, Canseco finally admitted it was all a hoax, the site reported. He said he thought of the whole plan when he saw a fake finger in a Halloween store. 

What remains true, NBC Sports reports, is that the prankster did shoot off his finger but had it successfully reconnected with surgery.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Chargers Playoff Watch: Who to Root For]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:12:51 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/ryan+mathews+practice.jpg

As we zoom through the final third of the NFL season, the playoff picture is starting to become clear for the Chargers.

At this point, the important thing is to be in the conversation, exactly where the Bolts find themselves. Let’s take a look at what they’ll need to do and who to root for in the upcoming Week 12.

First of all, you hate to get too melodramatic with more than a month left in the season, but the Chargers (6-4) more or less saved their playoff chances by hanging on for an ugly 13-6 victory over the winless Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

A loss there and …  well, we don’t even want to think about that.

Now they face the 4-6 St. Louis Rams at home on Sunday in another one of those win-or-you’re-in-trouble games. Its importance is heightened when you look at the rest of the schedule: Five games against teams with records of 6-4 or better, including both AFC West co-leaders in the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs.

Looking at the Chargers’ place in the AFC standings, it’s a big ol’ mess in the hunt for the two wild card spots. Right now the Bolts are in eighth place, but tied in record with three other teams – Miami, Baltimore and Cleveland. The Dolphins lead the Chargers after beating them earlier this season, while the Chargers have the tiebreaker edge over the Ravens and Browns because of a better conference record.

The Chiefs (7-3) are alone in fifth place, but would take over the No. 2 seed if they pass the Broncos for the division lead. The Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4) are alone in sixth place. Here is a look at the wild card standings:

5. Kansas City – 7-3
6. Pittsburgh – 7-4
7. Miami – 6-4
8. Chargers – 6-4
9. Baltimore – 6-4
10. Cleveland – 6-4

So, who should Bolts fans be rooting for this weekend? Here’s a breakdown of games affecting their postseason hopes.

First, the biggest game of the week is the Broncos hosting the Dolphins on Sunday at 1:25 p.m. Since we can’t root for both teams to lose, the best situation would be for a Miami win. In fact, just plan on rooting against the Broncos and Chiefs the rest of the season. But Bolts fans are used to that.

Speaking of, the Chiefs get the aforementioned winless Raiders on Thursday night. Yes, Oakland is 0-10, but they’ve been competitive in a number of games – including both contests with the Chargers. The game is in Oakland, where it’s never easy to play. Don’t hold your breath on a Kansas City loss, but crazier things have happened.

In other important games, the Browns play on the road at the Atlanta Falcons at 10 a.m. while the Ravens head to New Orleans to play the Saints on Monday night. Bolts fans will be rooting hard for the NFC teams in those games.

The Steelers have their bye this week.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Get Second Road Win in Houston]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 06:37:42 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Rockets-Kobe-Bryant_11-19-14.jpg

On Wednesday night, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers continued to play competitive basketball despite playing their second road game in as many nights, and the Lakers came away winners for only the third time in the 2014-15 season.

With Dwight Howard ruled out due to a strained right knee at the last moment, the Lakers went inside early and often. At the half, the Lakers had outscored Houston 24-14 in points in the paint. By the final buzzer, the Lakers held a 38-20 advantage in that category.

Defensively, the Lakers were packing the paint and preventing Houston from getting layups and fast break points. However, Houston took advantage of the Lakers' poor three-point defense. The Rockets made nine of their 19 shot attempts from the outside in the first half, and Kostas Papanikolaou was especially lethal off the bench.

The Greek national made four of his five shots from long distance to help Houston to a two-point lead at the halftime intermission.

In the second half, the James Harden came to life. After only scoring only four points in the first half, Houston's star player scored 13 points in the third quarter to provide the Rockets with a five-point lead entering the fourth quarter.

The deficit was partially due to Bryant struggling from the field in the third period. Bryant only made two of his 11 shots in the quarter, but he did find Jordan Hill on three straight baskets. Also Bryant was able to get to the foul line and entered the final quarter with 20 points and six assists.

As such, the Lakers were within striking distance on the road entering the fourth quarter.

At the start of the final period, the Lakers looked to Carlos Boozer for points. Boozer made five of nine shots in the first half, but he missed on three straight shots to start the fourth quarter. Combined with the Rockets hitting their 15th three-pointer of the night, the Lakers fell behind by seven points.

Immediately, Lakers' coach Byron Scott brought back Hill and Bryant. Approaching the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter, the Lakers had already taken the lead behind a flurry of baskets from Nick Young. From there on out, the see-saw battle began.

Bryant continued to struggle with his shot in the fourth quarter and Harden continued to heat up. The Rockets stretched their lead to five-points at the two-minute mark.

Bryant, who had missed three of his four shots in the quarter, made a fall-away jump shot from the top of the key and got fouled in the process. After the free throw, the Lakers were within two points with 1:43 to play in the game. At the one-minute mark, the Lakers trailed by only one, as the chase was on.

Then, Wesley Johnson stepped forward and made a crucial steal on Harden before finishing at the rim and completing the three-point play. With the play, the Lakers took a two-point lead that they would never relinquish.

Bryant would finish with a game-high 29 points, and the Lakers won 98-92. Next, LA will travel to Dallas in the hopes to sweep the road trip. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rivers Ready for Rams]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 11:53:29 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/172*120/Rivers+hurt+Raiders.jpg

On Monday Chargers head coach Mike McCoy was on his own answering (or not answering) questions regarding the injury status of quarterback Philip Rivers.

Wednesday he was at the podium again after practice and didn't mince words when asked about his starting quarterback. "He looked great on the practice field today and will play on Sunday, " McCoy repeated three times to start his press conference.

But unlike Monday, Rivers spoke to the media and did his best to set the record straight, "I feel good. It's part of playing the position, but I feel as good as I could ask for at this point in the season."

Chest injury / full participation is how Rivers was listed on the official Wednesday practice report. "Shoot, if we told you every nick and knack we had it would be a long list, things you wouldn't care to hear about and things not worth reporting, that's for sure, " Rivers joked.

So it looks as though "rib-gate" is now in the rear view mirror. "It's nothing that is going to linger or cause me to miss any time, " Rivers added.

The Chargers (6-4)  face the Rams (4-6) at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[USC's Josh Shaw Won't Be Charged]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 18:29:56 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/lafile-usc-football-player-josh-shaw.jpg

Josh Shaw has been cleared to play football for USC after prosecutors declined to files criminal charges against him, the school's athletic director announced Tuesday.

Shaw, a senior defensive back and co-captain, had been suspended since he lied to school officials about how he sprained his ankles in a preseason fall.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said that it will not file domestic charges against Shaw after he jumped from a balcony following an argument with his girlfriend in late August.

USC also conducted its own internal investigation of Shaw.

"Based on these investigations and their conclusions, and the 10-game suspension Josh has served for code of conduct violations, we have made the decision to reinstate him," said USC athletic director Pat Haden.

Haden said coach Steve Sarkisian can decide whether to use Shaw in the Trojans' final two games of the regular season.

"I’ve welcomed Josh Shaw back to the team. I’m now in the process of evaluating how Josh can contribute to the team’s success," Sarkisian said in a statement Tuesday.

The No. 19 Trojans (7-3, 6-2 Pac-12) will play their crosstown rivals, the No. 9 UCLA Bruins, on Saturday.

The Trojans likely could use Shaw's help in their patchwork secondary, where Shaw's absence has forced the Trojans to use untested youngsters.

USC's starting cornerbacks are junior Kevon Seymour - Shaw's roommate - and rising freshman Adoree Jackson, while underclassmen Chris Hawkins, John Plattenburg, Leon McQuay III and Jonathan Lockett have received extensive playing time along with senior safety Gerald Bowman.

But Shaw hasn't practiced with the Trojans since training camp, and it's unclear whether he is in game shape, let alone fully versed in the Trojans' defensive playbook.

With several years of heavy NCAA sanctions finally nearing an end, USC strived to stay out of the district attorney's investigation to avoid any suggestion that the school was influencing the process. The school also reportedly worried that Shaw's legal representation could complicate his eligibility, but apparently decided those concerns were unfounded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mark Cuban Hopes Lakers "Suck Forever"]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 23:29:27 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/mark-cuban2.jpg

What does Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban think about the struggling Los Angeles Lakers franchise? He wants it to stay that way - forever.

In a radio interview with NBC4's Fred Roggin on The Beast 980, Cuban shared his thoughts about several topics in the world of sports, including the competitive balance in the NBA.

Asked if the deep-pocket Lakers, who were 1-9 before the start of Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks, should change their strategy to acquiring marquee players, Cuban had this to say:

"As far as the Lakers, I think there's going to be a lot of teams that are going to be focusing and saying, 'Look, I've got a ton of cap room. Free agent A, B and C, why don't you guys come together and come play for me?' LA has always been considered a destination, so maybe they feel that's a valid strategy. I don't know. But you know me, Fred. Personally, I just hope they suck forever."

Cuban may have crushed the hearts of Laker fans, but he was careful not to step on Kobe Bryant's toes.

Citing the advancement of medical science and the benefits of diets, Cuban said he thinks the aging franchise player is "young" at 36.

"Even though Kobe's got a lot of mileage on his body, he's not what we would consider old anymore," Cuban said. "Kobe is still going to be a beast because he's just got that mental fortitude and that desire to win."

The Fred Roggin Show interview can be heard on The Beast 980’s website, by clicking here.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Aztecs Squeak by Utah]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 22:57:16 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/aztecs+steve+fisher+preseason.jpg

A national television audience got a glimpse of San Diego State basketball first hand as the Aztecs faced Utah as part of a 24-hour Tip-Off Marathon of college hoops.

Maybe it was the unusual start time for a mid-week game (1:00 pm PST), because for most of the contest it looked as if neither team wanted to win. The 16th ranked Aztecs and 25th ranked Utes combined for 29 turnovers and missed a total of 67 shots. At halftime Utah led 18-17.

After a jittery first half Steve Fisher's squad settled down. Led by senior J.J. O'Brien double-double the Aztecs had a comfortable 10-point lead with just under a minute remaining.

Utah rallied to make things interesting in the closing seconds. They trailed by just three with 20-seconds left after a three-pointer by Jordan Loveridge. But the Aztecs hit six of their final seven free throws to ice the game. State improved to 2-0 after beating Utah 53-49.

Fisher was not surprised the game was so difficult, "If you're around long enough you know games have a feel about them. You have to grind out a win and continue to compete and that's the feel this game had."

A pair of Aztec freshmen got their first taste of big time college basketball. Guard Trey Kell had five points on 1-5 shooting in 24-minutes of action. Kevin Zabo contributed four points off the bench.

The Aztecs host CSU-Bakersfield on Thursday before heading to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational over the weekend.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Attempt To Clarify Rivers' Health Status]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 06:39:43 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/223*120/Philip_Rivers_WIDE1226.jpg

On Sunday night, after the Chargers' lackluster win over the Oakland Raiders, tight end Antonio Gates shared some personal information about the health of quarterback Philip Rivers.

"For those who don't know, he's been dealing with a rib injury," Gates said, "a very severe rib injury. So he's been toughing it out these last three, four weeks."

On Monday afternoon, the spin doctors arrived at Chargers Park.

"Philip's never missed a snap in practice," said head coach Mike McCoy. "He hasn't been in treatment with James (Collins, the Chargers Head Athletic Trainer). So I would not say it's a severe injury."

Gates also claimed his comments were taken out of context, saying he was simply referring to the overall physical and mental toughness of Philip Rivers, not making any kind of diagnosis of the quarterback's health. However, I find it difficult to see how specifically identifying a man as having a rib injury can be taken out of context.

On Monday McCoy was asked several different ways to clarify the status of Rivers' health. Here's a quick sampling of his responses.

"He has not missed a snap at practice, and he has not been getting treated for a rib injury."

"Like I just said, he has not missed a snap and he played the rest of the game, so he'll be fine."

"Like I said, he has not missed a snap. He is not getting treatment for that. We'll give you an injury report on Wednesday."

Then McCoy was asked a point-blank question: Is Philip Rivers healthy?

He paused a beat and answered, "Yes."

So, somewhere the is a disconnect. McCoy guards his players' injury information like he's a HIPAA compliance lawyer, so he must have been irked that Gates would divulge the extent of a malady. It makes sense that Gates' sudden backtracking was an edict from above.

The timing of Rivers' performance dropoff matches with what Antonio said Sunday night. A player as good as Philip Rivers who was playing as well as Philip Rivers was does not simply fall off a statistical cliff without reason. You know, like an injury. But McCoy outlined several other possibilities:

The other guys on offense.

"When you have a breakdown, a poor route, when Keenan Allen falls down in Denver, is that Philip's fault? No. When a quarterback gets pushed and throws it up over an offensive lineman and the ball takes off on him? That's going to happen."

It is admirable for McCoy to want to protect his players. However, in today's N-F-L, leaving injuries unreported is not a very good idea.



Photo Credit: Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[5 Questions With Laz: Bolts Must Toughen Up]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:13:02 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/chargers+raiders+nfl+qualcomm+4.jpg

NBC 7 Sports Director Jim Laslavic and I get together every week to talk Chargers football and the issues of the week in the NFL.

This week we talk about Sunday’s not-so-convincing win over the Oakland Raiders, injury updates and what it will take to make the playoffs.

Here are Five Questions with Laz:

1. Can you remember another game where the punters were that big of a story?

Not really. Mike Scifres (Chargers) and Marquette King (Raiders) each punted nine times. Neither had a touchback. Scifres averaged 42.2 yards and did a great job pinning the Raiders deep in their own territory.

King, averaged just under 50 yards, with a long punt of 62 yards. It was a field position game – a throwback kind of a game.

Scrifres has never made it to a Pro Bowl, but he is easily among the best in the game again this season.

2. Which of the key players coming back from injury were you most impressed with?

Hands down, Ryan Mathews. He showed a great burst. His numbers were solid: 16 carries for 70 yards. But when he had some running room, he showed a great burst of speed.

He seemed to slow down late in the game. He needs to be in top form for the rest of the season.

On defense, all three linebackers played well enough. It’s sometimes overlooked how much of a coordinated effort it takes to play defense.

It’s important to have fresh bodies out there this time of year. They all need to play well for the team to have any chance over the next six games. Again, they played well enough against a bunch of players who are in midseason form.

3. The Broncos and Chiefs both looked mortal on Sunday. What does that do for the Chargers' chances of winning the division?

They’re one game out of first place in the AFC West with six to play. Not bad at all. But keep an eye on the Chiefs. The played well yesterday, beating the Seahawks.

The Chiefs’ defense has allowed the fewest points in the AFC. They get to play Oakland twice over the final month and a half. They also have games at Arizona and Pittsburgh and host the Broncos and Chargers. So like all three teams still in the chase in the AFC West, they still have a lot of work to do.

Last year, three teams made it to the playoffs out of the division. I said before the season, it’s likely only one will advance this year. I’m sticking with that prediction.  

4. Just how badly do you think Philip Rivers has been hurting?

I’ll give the company line: I’m not a doctor so I can’t comment. I do know this: He is one tough guy. All the great quarterbacks are smart and tough.

My teammate Dan Fouts was that way. He was the toughest guy on the roster. Same for Philip.

It’s never good to talk about injuries. The less said, the better. The Saints got in trouble a few years back for “targeting” players. It happens all the time. As a player, we always knew the opponent’s injuries. The coaches would review them with us on an almost daily basis.

If you had a chance to gang tackle, you were encouraged to take the best shot possible.

5. That's now been three straight sub-par performances all around. Time to panic?

Here’s the deal. They need to get tougher up front on both sides of the football. Take care of the football and play defense.

To be a champion you must practice like a champ. Prepare like a champ. Play like a champ.

This team still has a chance to beat some good teams and make a playoff run. But again, it’s a line of scrimmage game. And right now, they’re not tough enough up front.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Need to Fix Fourth-Quarter and Red Zone Offense]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 10:00:45 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/kolynvgiants.jpg

With the 49ers holding just a 16-10 lead entering the fourth quarter vs. the Giants this past Sunday, San Francisco needed a score to put the game out of the reach.

But in the final period, the 49ers' first possession stalled at the Giants 40, forcing a punt. Their second and third possessions also resulted in punts.

That lack of production from the 49ers offense put enormous pressure on the 49ers defense – which came through with a goal-line stand and two fourth-quarter interceptions.

But the game highlighted a huge weakness for the Niners this season: the offense has yet to score a touchdown in the final quarter. That lack of late scoring has resulted in the 49ers having to rely on their defense to hold late, slim leads, or contributed to at least two of the team’s four losses – a 28-20 decision to the Bears in September and a 13-10 defeat to the Rams on Nov. 2.

Plus, the 49ers are having trouble scoring touchdowns throughout games when in the red zone. Against the Giants Sunday, San Francisco was touchdown-less in four trips inside New York’s 20. The Niners are just 13-for-33 in red-zone efficiency this season, the second-worst mark in the NFL. Their 39 percent efficiency is way down from last season’s 53 percent.

As the 6-4 49ers prepare to host Washington this Sunday, it’s a fact the team is well aware of and working to fix. In a season where every victory is important for the 49ers as they chase a wild-card spot, there’s going to be times when San Francisco will need to punch in a touchdown late in the game to seal a victory or pull off a comeback. This Sunday’s game against a struggling 3-7 Washington team may not require it, but the Thanksgiving night game vs. Seattle at Levi’s Stadium could likely come down to just one, late score.

Fortunately, the 49ers at least have a reliable kicker in Phil Dawson, who kicked three field goals Sunday in the win over New York.

“Glad we made them, the field goals were important,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh told the media. “They were the result of some very good drives. You’d like to get the touchdown, but you do come away with points on the board and those are critical. You do what you have to do to win the game.”

But there’s no doubt winning games down the stretch will come down to punching in a few more touchdowns -- especially late in the game -- instead of settling for Dawson field goals.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Say Ryan Kelly To Miss Six Weeks]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 08:04:43 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Lakers_Ryan-Kelly-out-6-weeks.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers' fears were confirmed on Monday afternoon when the team announced that Ryan Kelly would miss a minimum of six weeks after tearing his right hamstring.

Kelly spent all of training camp on the shelf with a hamstring injury before hurting his opposite hamstring. On Sunday night against the Golden State Warriors, Kelly drew some contact and landed. Immediately, he was unable to run. On the next whistle, he headed to the locker room.

With the Lakers taking off for Atlanta on Monday morning, Kelly stayed back and visited with Dr. Luga Podesta of Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic.

An ultrasound revealed that the 23-year-old had torn his right hamstring, and the prognosis called for six weeks on the shelf, at minimum. Only lasting one full game, Kelly averaged 3.7 points, 1.7 rebounds and 8.2 minutes over three games in the 2014-15 season.

"I really like Ryan with the way he plays, and he knows how to play," Lakers' coach Byron Scott said after Sunday's loss to the Warriors. "He's going to give you everything he's got. Unfortunately for him and us, we haven't seen enough of that because of the injuries that he's had."

In his rookie season, Kelly often featured as a power forward that could stretch the floor. In 59 games, Kelly averaged 8.0 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 22.2 minutes. Scott said earlier that Kelly provided a different look, as none of the Lakers' other big guys can step outside and shoot three-pointers.

If the 23-year-old can recover in the minimum time listed, he should return at about the same time as the New Year. At that point, the 1-9 Lakers will be nearly 40 percent done with the 2014-15 season.

]]>
<![CDATA[USC vs. UCLA: Winner "Predicted" Via Cocktails]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 13:17:54 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/gamedrinkmesshall1.jpg

Game day, as every true-blue (or blue-and-gold or cardinal-and-gold) fan knows, doesn't start on game day.

The action starts way, wayyy beforehand and way off the football field, when pundits start punditing and tailgate parties are concocted and the prediction rituals begin in ridiculous, if delightful, earnest. (Which food will your dog eat, the kibble sitting on the poster with Team A's insignia or Team B's?)

And when the Bruins and Trojans squads square off, as they will for the 82nd time on Saturday, Nov. 22, the "who'll win?" showdowns often flower in the most interesting, and flavorful, of spots around Southern California. Look to Messhall Kitchen, in Los Feliz, for a prime example. The restaurant is staging a 21-and-over guessing event happening right up to game time.

The upshot? Whether more Messhall patrons order USC's Red Rush -- a drink made with bourbon, raspberries, honey, and lemon -- or UCLA's Bees Knees, which has gin, honey, lemon, and blueberries.

Love the color coordination, Messhall. Keeping this rivalry thematic, through-and-through.

Bartenders are keeping a tally of which cocktail is higher on the request list, so look for who is winning the cocktail contest on a board near the bar.

Is this board a crystal ball, one that looks straight into the heart of the heated contest, which'll draw the devoted to the Rose Bowl on Nov. 22? Time, as they say, will tell, as it does with all sports-focused prediction games. But we raise our glass to such funny face-offs, as they give the fans a way to work out some of that game-day anticipation in whimsical and strange ways.

Also, the dog eating the kibble from the bowl placed on the team's logo? Let's be honest: Fido is typically right more often than he is not.



Photo Credit: Messhall Kitchen]]>
<![CDATA[Canseco May Sell His Shot Finger, Gun on eBay]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:57:12 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Jose-Canseco-1.jpg

Jose Canseco says he's parting with his finger forever — for a price.

The former major leaguer tweeted Monday that he'll sell his detached digit, along with the gun with which he accidentally shot it off. He tweeted last week that the operation to reattach the finger had failed, and it had fallen off during a poker game.

Canseco said he is also selling the chrome-plated .45-caliber handgun he was cleaning when he accidentally shot off the middle finger on his left hand.

In a series of tweets posted Friday afternoon, Canseco said his finger fell off during a poker game Thursday night, even after he had it surgically reattached. (Warning: The below tweets might seem disturbing to some.)

Canseco was apparently unaware that a bullet was in the chamber when he was cleaning the gun, Las Vegas Metro Lt. Mark Reddon told NBC News.

"It was a serious hand injury," but not a serious medical injury, Reddon said. "There was nothing suspicious. There was no alcohol involved, just a misstep with a handgun."

Canseco began his long major-league career in the 1980s with the Oakland Athletics before going on to play for the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox and other teams.

He has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs during his MLB career. After retiring, he also competed in mixed martial arts and boxing.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jerry Rice in China to Promote NFL]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 00:33:27 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/rice-horz.jpg

San Francisco 49ers legendary wide receiver and NFL Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice is in China trying to entice the world's most-populous country to tune into NFL football on every given Sunday, according to reports.

An NBC News crew captured Rice in the moment in Beijing, where NFL officials are "demystifying the game" by "putting footballs in [Chinese peoples'] hands."

On Sunday, Rice put on a clinic, which one young fan described as "the greatest football experience of my life."

There is also already a flag football league in Beijing, but NBC noted the country is "with little history of contact sports like American football."



Photo Credit: Mathew Luschek]]>
<![CDATA[Scenes From Chargers Win Over Raiders]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:32:59 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Chargers+Raiders+nfl+qualcomm+1.jpg Photos from Sunday's Chargers win over the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Tony Hawk Rides Hoverboard]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 05:28:20 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-17+at+3.26.35+PM.png

The hoverboard is reality, and Tony Hawk has taken a spin on it.

The pro skateboarder tested the $10,000 prototype Hendo Hoverboard after husband and wife Greg and Jill Henderson launched a Kickstarter to fund it. 

In the video, Hawk performs a few tricks on the board, which hovers an inch off the ground and uses magnets, though he also ends up falling several times.

Hawk had caught attention for another hoverboard video earlier this year — a fake video made by Funny or Die that featured the skateboarder, musician Moby and others riding boards high into the sky, in a prank for which Hawk eventually apologized.  


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<![CDATA[Chargers and Raiders Fans Tailgate]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 11:52:37 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/raiders+chargers+tailgate+12.jpg Chargers and Raiders fans tailgated outside of Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego before Sunday's NFL game.

Photo Credit: Matthew Wood/NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Raiderette Opts Out of Class Action Wage Labor Settlement With Raiders]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 18:42:11 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/caitliny5.JPG

A Raiderette who sued the Oakland Raiders over the wages she was paid is rejecting a settlement in another cheerleader's lawsuit, saying it doesn't do enough to fix what she calls the misogynistic culture of the NFL.

Caitlin Y. had danced in the front of the Raiderettes’ cheerleading line for three years. Now, ever since she sued the Raiders and the NFL in June, she says she has been relegated to the second row.

“I’m not in the front anymore,” the 27-year-old ballet dancer told NBC Bay Area in an exclusive interview. “I’ve been put in the back. But that’s OK. It’s all about being part of the team.”

Caitlin, who has accused the team and the league of wage theft and "deplorable" working conditions, formally opted out of a $1.25 million class-action settlement Monday in a fellow cheerleader's suit, saying it doesn't go far enough.

"It doesn’t include the entire NFL," Caitlin, who works as the PR director for a family-run Mountain View skin care company, explained. "It’s a league-wide issue that affects cheerleaders on all teams, not just ours. By accepting this, the NFL gets off the hook."

Caitlin — who like many other NFL cheerleaders prefers not to use her last name, for fear of stalking — wants to push harder for the Raiders and the NFL to pay more, and pay it evenly among cheerleaders across the league.

Her decision to opt out means she will not take the roughly $20,000 owed to her as part of the class action settlement tentatively reached in September, her lawyer Drexel Bradshaw explained. In the formal “objection” filed in Alameda County Superior Court, her attorneys argue that the Raiderettes as a whole are “owed millions and millions.”

Specifically, the legal filing says the class action underpays the Raiderettes somewhere between $1.5 million and $2.7 million – or at least $17,000 per Raiderette per year. The lawyers plan to argue this in court on Feb. 26 during a class action hearing.

"This is far, far from over," he said.

The Raiders have repeatedly declined comment, as has the NFL, whose spokesman and attorneys have not returned calls and emails. The NFL has argued in court, however, that the labor dispute was solely between the cheerleaders and the Raiders, and that the league does not belong in the suit.

Caitlin will not pinpoint a dollar amount that she thinks she should be paid. But she says the class action amount — roughly $5,000 a year for each year worked for each of the 90 cheerleaders — is not enough and doesn’t address the root of the problem.

But she and her lawyer both say that the Raiderettes should be paid more than minimum wage, which was $9 in Oakland at the time.

“These women should be paid more than the Raiders’ mascot, who makes $45,000 a season, plus a pension,” Bradshaw said. “They are obviously athletes and classical dancers, and to pay them $9 an hour is laughable. The guy pouring beer at the concession stands makes more than that.”

Bradshaw said Caitlin is rejecting the payout because the settlement doesn’t address the "misogynous" nature of the NFL, which has come under fire for how it responds to domestic violence accusations against players.

The settlement, if approved by the court, would resolve a similar wage suit brought by another Raiderette, Lacy T., in January and would include 90 other cheerleaders. That suit, the first of its kind in the country, was the force behind a new contract that ensures the Raiderettes make $9 an hour for all hours they work — not just for games.

Even as Caitlin opts out of the class-action settlement in that suit, she and her co-plaintiff — Jenny C., a former Raiderette who now lives in Las Vegas — plan to keep pursuing their joint suit against the NFL. Their suit accuses the league of violating antitrust laws by "acting in concert with teams to depress the wages of all NFL cheerleaders."

Lacy’s lawyer, Sharon Vinick of Oakland, isn’t quite sure why Caitlin wouldn’t buy in to the class action. “We obviously believe it’s an outstanding settlement,” she said. Vinick added while she agrees that the Raiderettes are still “woefully underpaid,” she does not think the Raiders have a legal mandate to pay them more, and that there is no legal basis for suing the NFL, because “the women don’t work for the NFL.”

But a labor expert sees it differently.

"It's understandable that some cheerleaders might find the settlement inadequate," said San Francisco State University Professor and Director of Labor and Employment Students John Logan. "The settlement... puts the cheerleaders, who have a high-profile job in a multi-billion dollar industry, on the same level of poverty-wages as WalMart or McDonald's workers. WalMart and McDonald's workers deserve more, and it's not hard to understand why some NFL cheerleaders believe they deserve more."

While she does want more. Caitlin will not discuss the details of how she's being treated on the team as she pursues her legal claims. She would not disparage the Raiders or her fellow cheerleaders. She insisted she doesn't mind that she doesn't dance in the front anymore; she just wants to dance and get paid fairly for it.

"I know that I’m lucky to have this job," she said. "I love this job. I love being a cheerleader, and I love the Raiders. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be treated with respect or paid adequately for the skills that I've trained for my whole life and I use on game day."



Photo Credit: Michael Koo
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<![CDATA[Extent of Rivers' Injury Revealed]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:20:22 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/172*120/Rivers+hurt+Raiders.jpg

The Chargers beat the Raiders 13-6 on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium in a game that will never be described as balletic. Offensively, it looked a lot like San Diego's recent 3-game losing skid, which coincided with a sudden drop off in the play of quarterback Philip Rivers.

Over their first six game, Rivers had 20 touchdowns and two interceptions. In their next three, Philip threw six touchdowns and six picks.

Philip was turnover-free against Oakland with one touchdown pass, but he was not sharp. After the game, longtime friend Antonio Gates gave us a reason why.

"For those who don't know, he's been dealing with a rib injury," said Gates. "A very severe rib injury, so he's been toughing it out these last three, four weeks."

That timeline takes us back to the home loss to Kansas City, where Philip took a few shots and snapped his NFL-record streak of games with a QB Rating of at least 120. The Raiders sacked Rivers twice and hit him four times. On two occasions, Philip limped off the field.

However, as leaders do, Rivers refuses to reveal the extent of his injury.

"Oh, I just got rolled up on one, and I just kind of landed and got my wind on the other," said Rivers. "I'll be fine."

He no doubt feels that way, but a source with knowledge of the situation says Philip has bruised ribs and possible cartilage damage. It's not dangerous, but it is extremely painful. Yet he plays on, a testament to his toughness.

"Nothing is going to take him from that game unless he in unable to walk out there," said safety Darrell Stuckey. "He's a guy that has the tenacity, that has the leadership, that has the ability to fight through whatever he wants to because that's the competitive player he is. We're fortunate to have him as the quarterback and the leader of this team."

Rivers is not going to remove himself from a game unless he's been knocked unconscious. So, if he is not as effective as he can be, does head coach Mike McCoy have to take it upon himself to pull Rivers and play backup Kellen Clemens, who has had success in the NFL?

I'm not sure they'll ever even consider that option.

"He's a warrior," said McCoy on Sunday. "He's one of the best in the business, one of the toughest in the business, if not THE toughest at that position. He's a winner."

It appears the Chargers believe Philip Rivers, even operating at less than full capacity, gives them the best chance to be winners. That's a point that's awfully hard to argue against.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Hang on, Keep Raiders Winless]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 19:30:41 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/1116+chargers.jpg

It was by no means a thing of beauty. Of course, nothing usually is when playing the Oakland Raiders.

The Chargers (6-4) scrapped their way to a 13-6 victory over their division rivals Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium, ending a three-game losing streak and keeping Oakland (0-10) winless on the season.

How bad was it? Both teams punted nine times. In the Chargers postgame locker room, cameras and reporters swarmed around ... punter Mike Scifres.

"It was one of those field position days," the unlikely star said after booming 380 total punt yards, including four that were downed inside the Raiders 10.

The Chargers got off to a quick start, scoring on the third play from scrimmage. After Raiders quarterback Derek Carr fumbled away his first snap, Rivers found Malcom Floyd for a 22-yard touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone.

"We get spoiled with him making those plays," Rivers said of his longtime receiver. "There aren't many guys I throw that ball to."

From there it became a battle of kicks. Nick Novak hit a pair of field goals, including a 52-yarder midway through the third quarter that actually got tipped at the line. He also missed his first kick of the season, from 48 yards out to end the first half with the Chargers up just 10-3.

"It's been a long time for me," Novak said of the miss. "It was good to get back out there an make one (from 52)."

Rivers completed 22 of 34 passes for 193 yards despite getting knocked around and limping off the field on a couple of occasions. He said his leg got rolled up on one play and he got the wind knocked out of him on the other.

He acknowledged having an off day, but was more concerned with the outcome of the game.

"We want to play better, we know we need to play better," Rivers said. "But winning is the objective."

Running back Ryan Mathews rushed for 70 yards in his first action after missing more than two months with a knee injury, earning praise from head coach Mike McCoy.

"He looked good," McCoy said. "He was physical and he ran the ball hard."

Keenan Allen added eight catches for 63 yards while Floyd finished with four receptions for 44 yards.

The second half was a battle of punts as the Bolts defense was able to keep the Raiders off the board until allowing a field goal with 4:06 left in the game. That preceded nine straight kicks from punter Marquette King, who finished with 446 punt yards.

From there, the Chargers were able to run out most of the clock, aided by an incredible third-down catch by Antonio Gates at midfield. He ripped the ball away from two Oakland defenders to make the acrobatic grab.

"How he kept his concentration on that ball, it was really awesome," Rivers said.

Gates finished with three catches for 32 yards.

The Raideres got the ball back with under a minute left but only drove to their own 29 before a last-second heave landed harmlessly near the Chargers end zone.

The win keeps the Bolts square in the middle of the playoff chase. They are just a game behind division co-leaders Denver and Kansas City and are clustered with a group of five other 6-4 teams vying for the final AFC playoff berth.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Best of NFL: Week 11]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 20:04:25 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/458986756.jpg Don't miss the most dramatic images from the eleventh week of the 2014 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Reggie Wayne Talks Special Bond With T. Y. Hilton]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 12:30:53 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-16+at+2.09.54+PM.jpg Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne, now in his 14th season, has mentored third year wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who's an emerging star in the league. The players discuss their special bond ahead of the Colts- New England Patriots showdown Sunday night. ]]> <![CDATA[Raiders vs. Chargers: Who To Watch]]> Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:25:17 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/188*120/Melvin+Ingram+Chargers+Seahawks.jpg

Usually there's some kind of in-depth analysis, or a specific angle in these game preview pieces. But, after a bye week that came after a 37-0 loss in Miami that came after a 14-point loss in Denver, there's not a whole lot to analyze.

During their 3-game losing streak the Chargers have been outscored by 54 points.

The Chargers have not scored a point in 23 days.

The Chargers have not recorded a sack in 27 days.

The Chargers have not forced a turnover in 34 days.

All those numbers are tough to swallow, and would suggest they're ripe for another disappointing Sunday. However, there's one more number that trumps all of them:

The Raiders have not won a game in 364 days.

Here are your three players to watch for when they meet on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium:

Melvin Ingram, OLB

The Bolts have had all kinds of trouble generating something that even loosely resembles a pass rush. Defensive Coordinator John Pagano said during the week their 4-man rush has not been effective, so they've had to try and manufacture pressure in other ways, and that's not working, either. Ingram is back from his hip injury, and could provide the push the San Diego defense needs. He spent a lot of time in Seattle's backfield during the Chargers' Week 2 win and seemed primed for a big season when the injury happened. The Bolts need him to pick up where he left off, or Oakland QB Derek Carr will pick them apart like he did in the first meeting.

Ryan Mathews, RB

Um ... Duh. Branden Oliver was good in a pinch, and provides an instant energy burst when used properly, but he's still an undrafted rookie and not ready to handle 20 carries a game in the NFL. Mathews has been there, done that. Ryan returns from the sprained knee he suffered against Seattle to try and bolster the league's least efficient rushing attack. The offensive line has been banged up and letting far too many defenders in to the backfield. Mathews has the ability to go through a tackler or two and turn a negative play in to a positive one. His ability to to that should help the Chargers on first and second downs so they're facing 3rd and 4 instead of 3rd and 9, which will allow their offense to go back to its clock-killing, point-scoring ways. If not, we're going to see another low number on the scoreboard.

Chris Davis, CB

Davis will get a fair share of the snaps Jason Verrett would have played, but I have him on this list for another reason. Davis was arguably the only positive thing to come out of the Miami loss because of his kickoff return ability. Davis showed a burst that could make him a dangerous return man (just ask Alabama fans what Davis can do), Oakland does not have to cover many kickoffs because Sebastian Janikowski usually blasts the ball through the end zone. But, when a kick is able to be brought out, the Raiders allow 30.8 yards per return, giving them the second-worst coverage team in the NFL. A big return could be the thing the Chargers need to kick-start their offense.

Derek's Prediction

The Raiders are 0-9 and were dismantled by the Broncos a week ago, but this is not going to be a blowout. It rarely is when these old rivals get together. But, while the Raiders do have talented players at a few positions, their roster is nowhere near as potent as the Chargers is, especially now that some of the Bolts are coming back from injuries.

San Diego got a much-needed rest with their well-placed bye week, and are coming in to this game as close to full-strength as they've been all season. While it might take a while to knock off some rust, their fresh legs, and the return of a more patient, less turnover-prone Philip Rivers, will be enough to snap a 3-game losing skid.

Final score: Chargers 23, Raiders 16



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ingram In, Verrett Out For Chargers]]> Sat, 15 Nov 2014 14:53:08 -0800 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/182*120/Verrett+Chargers+Interception.jpg

During the NFL Draft process, the one concern professional scouting folks had about cornerback Jason Verrett was durability. He's a bit undersized, and had already torn a labrum at TCU.

Verrett was lauded for his toughness, ability, work ethic and football IQ. The first half of his rookie season showed off all of those attributes, and then some. Verrett was playing more like a four-year starter than a first-year defensive back. The good thing is, all of those things will stick with Jason for his entire career.

Hopefully, that durability issue is not going to hound him, as well.

Verrett was placed on the season-ending Reserve-Injured list on Saturday with a torn left labrum (not the one he injured in college). Verrett sustained the injury diving for a pass in the second half of the Chargers' win in Oakland on October 12, yet still returned to make a game-saving interception.

Verrett, who also has a partial rotator cuff tear, endured the pain to try and play in San Diego's Thursday Night Football loss in Denver but re-aggravated the injury in the first half. He'll have surgery and not play again until next year.

Without Verrett, the Bolts will rely on cornerbacks Shareece Wright and Brandon Flowers, with undrafted rookie Chris Davis seeing more playing time.

To balance the loss of Verrett, the Chargers got some good news when they reinstated linebacker Melvin Ingram from the Reserve-Injured, Designated For Return list. Ingram, the Bolts' 1st round pick in 2012, was an impact player for the first two games but sustained a hip injury in a Week 2 win over the Seahawks.

Ingram's return is expected to help the Chargers generate a pass rush that has not had a sack since October 19 against the Chiefs.

The Bolts made two more roster moves on Saturday, adding safety Adrian Phillips to the active roster and releasing linebacker Cordarro Law.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>