I have a feeling that they were flying along, fat dumb and happy, on autopilot,and bam, a generator fell off line, or some similiar electrical problem...autopilot disengaged and auto pressurization system went off line and drove all outflow valves to closed
pilots woke up, ears hurt, hand flew for a few seconds and re engaged autopilot once electrics were sorted out and the manual, ac or dc control to manipulate the outflow valve was used.
Pretty close. Subsequent info out was that the air/ground sensing failed while enroute passing through FL250, and the aircraft (now thinking it was on the ground) began to lose the cabin. They caught it before the cabin masks could drop, and Flightaware's profife shows pretty much a gradual descent from FL280 (the highest they ever were, staying out of RVSM territory) down to 10,000 and landing SJC shortly thereafter.
The media's coverage of this event shows (yet again) the fallacy of initial info being anything close to being accurate (even as reported by FAA and the local FD), since the spokespeople for those entities are not necessarily as knowledgeable as front-line airline operational folks with more detailed awarness/training on specific aircraft systems. That can lead to incorrect assessments, which the media then takes as Gospel and runs with as they turn things into a potential TV disaster movie. That seems to be the media's default reaction, and only after some facts come out (after a little time) does the initially reported "catastrophic electrical failure" get turned into something less ominous. Ditto for "flight control issues" (just both A and B autopilots tripped?) and the depressurization (which the media always seems to think has to be rapid/explosive versus gradual).
When more detailed info gets updated from the initial "imminent doom" coverage, it's never reported as a "correction" (like the newspapers used to do), but as an update to the story, assuming they even mention the word "update" Naturally, something less than 100% of the folks who saw the original report ever see/hear the true info, and the proper context and application of it.
Bottomline, it was the crew's routine handling of a non-routine event.