Thursday's NFL roundup: Rivers passes Fouts in Chargers' win
San Diego — Music blared louder than normal in the San Diego Chargers’ locker room, and there was a sense of relief Thursday night after a victory over the Denver Broncos.
The Chargers had actually finished.
Philip Rivers threw for 178 yards and one touchdown, passing Hall of Famer Dan Fouts to become San Diego’s career passing leader, and the Chargers held off the Broncos 21-13.
The victory may have saved embattled coach Mike McCoy’s job .
The Chargers (2-4) were coming off a mistake-filled loss at Oakland, and earlier in the season lost three games in which they led at the 2-minute warning. There has been increasing fan discontent with the conservative McCoy, and the Chargers are trying to convince voters to approve a $1.1 billion public handout for a new downtown stadium in the form of an increase in the hotel occupancy tax.
“There is nothing like winning,” a misty-eyed McCoy said. “Especially beating a good football team in front of are home fans. It was great.”
The victory “meant a ton for Mike,” Rivers said. “It wasn’t talked about a lot on the team but veteran players … I felt it. Not that I expected it if it didn’t go well. I had no idea but you also you are not playing dumb. We knew we had to get this thing going in a hurry.”
The Broncos had the ball in the final seconds, but the Chargers — who had two turnovers on special teams —held.
The defending Super Bowl champion Broncos were coached by special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis after Gary Kubiak was ordered by doctors to sit this one out because of a migraine condition that mimics strokes.
“You have to give them credit,” DeCamillis said. “We know it would be a tough game because they have played a lot of close games and not won.”
The five-time defending AFC West champion Broncos (4-2) were mostly sluggish behind Trevor Siemian, who was back at quarterback after rookie Paxton Lynch struggled in a loss to Atlanta. They lost their second straight game and had their NFL-record 15 straight divisional road victories snapped.
The Chargers snapped their streak of 10 straight divisional losses dating to 2014.
Rivers, in his 13th season with the Chargers and 11th as starter, has 43,094 career yards passing. Fouts threw for 43,040 yards in 15 seasons with the Bolts.
Newton will likely play Sunday
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was a full participant in practice Thursday, another indicator the league’s reigning MVP likely will play Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
Coach Ron Rivera said that while Newton remains in the NFL’s concussion protocol, it’s a positive sign that he was able to practice fully. Rivera said he doesn’t know when Newton’s next meeting with neurologists will be — or when he might be cleared to play.
“This is just the next step and it’s all about how he reacts to everything,” Rivera said.
Newton declined interview requests on Thursday.
Running back Jonathan Stewart, who has missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, also practiced for the second straight day and said he plans to play against the Saints. Left tackle Michael Oher (concussion), cornerback James Bradberry (toe) and defensive tackles Vernon Butler (ankle) and Paul Soliai (foot) did not practice are Rivera indicated they likely will not play.
Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said he doesn’t anticipate putting any restrictions on the quarterback’s ability to run during the game if he is cleared to play Sunday.
The 6-foot-5, 245-pound Newton has run for more touchdowns than any QB in NFL history.
Newton missed Monday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after suffering a concussion in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 2.
Newton has struggled this season, but playing New Orleans could prove to be a perfect elixir. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes and one interception in his last three games against the Saints.
Fulton Walker dies
Fulton Walker, the first player to score on a Super Bowl kickoff return, has died at the age of 58 in his hometown of Martinsburg, West Virginia.
The Miami Dolphins said Walker died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack.
Walker scored for the Dolphins on a 98-yard kickoff return in the 1983 Super Bowl. His touchdown put Miami ahead, but the Washington Redskins rallied to win, 27-17. Walker’s return is still tied for third longest in Super Bowl history.
He played in the NFL from 1981 to 1986 for the Dolphins and Los Angeles Raiders. He led the NFL with a kickoff return average of 26.7 yards in 1983, and with 692 yards in punt returns in 1985.
Walker played in college at West Virginia University.
Cleveland quarterback Cody Kessler has recovered enough from an injury to his chest and ribs to start Sunday’s game at Tennessee, a relief to the Browns who already have started three quarterbacks and played five in five games this season.
Kessler, who got hurt in the first quarter of last week’s loss to New England, practiced again on Thursday and following the workout Browns coach Hue Jackson said the third-round draft pick will make his fourth start.
“I think he is ready to go,” Jackson said.
Kessler led the Browns (0-5) on a touchdown drive on the series before he got hurt when Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower shot through the line unblocked and put a hard shot on Cleveland’s quarterback. Kessler said he heard a crunching sound when he hit the turf and feared his injury was much worse.
But after a few days of rehab, he feels much better and is looking forward to another chance.
“It’s exciting to be back out and obviously last week was unfortunate,” he said following practice. “The game got cut a little short for me, so it’s exciting to get back out there.”
Kessler said he’s still feeling discomfort when he throws, but the pain is manageable.
... Four-time Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, who returned to the field for the Chiefs a couple of weeks ago for the first time since tearing the ACL in his right knee in Week 5 last season, is expected to be a full participant in Sunday’s game in Oakland.
... Washington coach Jay Gruden said tight end Jordan Reed has been diagnosed with a concussion and missed his second straight practice.
... Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, center Nick Mangold and linebacker David Harris all sat out team drills at practice while recovering from injuries.
... Dolphins rookie guard Laremy Tunsil said he expects to play Sunday after missing last week’s game when he sprained his right ankle coming out of the shower.
... Former Vikings tight end Stu Voigt has been sentenced to six months in federal prison for fraud.
Voigt was convicted of bank fraud in February in a scam that prosecutors say bilked investors out of millions of dollars.
Voigt spoke at Thursday’s sentencing hearing, calling it the “darkest day in my life.” He was ordered to report to prison Nov. 28. He was also ordered to pay a $100,000 fine.
Voigt played for the Vikings from 1970 to 1980.
... The Internal Revenue Service has filed a tax lien of $191,470.70 against Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes and his wife, Miko.
The notice filed Thursday on their home in Davie, Florida, says the Grimes owe taxes for a period ending in 2014.