Redskins

Bears overwhelm Jaguars with defense, win 41-3

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Bears overwhelm Jaguars with defense, win 41-3

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs have scored more touchdowns than Matt Forte this season.

And the Chicago Bears aren't complaining.

Tillman and Briggs returned interceptions for touchdowns - their second in six days - and the Bears used stifling defense to overwhelm the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-3 Sunday. Tillman and Briggs became the first teammates in NFL history to return interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive weeks.

``This one was an easier catch,'' Tillman said. ``Last week, it was, `Is he really throwing me the ball?' This week was normal. This one was easier. It came at a good time. We needed a lift, and that score got us rolling to the point the offense started putting up points after that.''

The Bears (4-1) scored 38 unanswered points in the second half to win their third consecutive game.

The streak has everything to do with defense. Chicago has returned five interceptions for touchdowns in those games.

Tillman and Briggs returned two of the team's five INTs for scores in Monday night's 34-18 victory at Dallas. Major Wright returned one the previous week against St. Louis.

Tillman's second of the season - a 36-yarder in the third quarter - proved to be the decisive play in a game that saw as many punts (six) as points in the first half.

What prompted Chicago's turnaround? Players credited coach Lovie Smith's halftime message.

``He basically cursed us out without cursing,'' Tillman said. ``He raised his voice and gave us that mean, surly, stern look and we responded to that. He put a little spark in our rear end. We started getting to the quarterback in the second half. We were a little flat in the first half and came out with a sense of urgency.''

The Bears finished with 501 yards of offense, 309 in the second half, and held Jacksonville to 45 yards after the break. The Jaguars ran just four plays in the third quarter.

``It's been the same thing for five years,'' Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew said. ``Obviously, we're not working hard enough. I don't know. We're just not playing well right now. We have to figure something out. No one here is going to save us. It's the guys in this locker room. There's no one we can bring in to help. We got to look man to man at each other and figure out what we're going to do.''

The Jaguars (1-4) never recovered from Tillman's touchdown and played the final quarter amid a chorus of boos. Jacksonville now heads into its bye week with serious questions about what direction the team is headed under general manager Gene Smith, quarterback Blaine Gabbert and maybe even first-year coach Mike Mularkey.

With Smith assembling the roster, the Jaguars have lost 18 of their last 24 games.

They have been downright pathetic in three home games this season. They managed 117 yards in the home opener against Houston, 212 last week against Cincinnati and 189 Sunday.

``I can talk up here all night about what we did, but that's not going to cure anything,'' Gabbert said. ``We've got to come out in the second half and play better football. It starts with me. When you throw two Pick 6's in a half, that's awful. I've got to find a way to fix that and get this offense going a little bit.''

Gabbert completed 17 of 33 passes for 142 yards, with the two interceptions. The Bears stacked the line of scrimmage, clearly wanting to shut down Jones-Drew. It worked, as Jones-Drew finished with 56 yards on 12 carries.

Following Tillman's score, the Jaguars allowed consecutive scoring drives after playing stout defense in the first half.

Jay Cutler hooked up with rookie Alshon Jeffery for a 10-yard score on the first play of the fourth quarter and found Brandon Marshall for a 24-yarder with 8:37 remaining in the game.

Briggs' score came after that, a 36-yard return that made it 34-3.

``The defense put up some points again,'' Cutler said. ``We're never really out of a game with those guys on defense. They play such good football. They hold teams to few yards and a lot of punts.''

Cutler completed 23 of 39 passes for 292 yards, with two TDs and an interception before giving way to backup Jason Campbell.

Marshall caught 12 passes for 144 yards. Forte, who has one touchdown this season, ran 22 times for 107 yards.

Few outsiders gave the Jaguars a chance before the game. The only thing that seemingly was in Jacksonville's favor was catching Chicago on a short week. The Bears got home from Dallas early Tuesday and were back on a plane Saturday.

That may have contributed to Chicago's slow start. But it mattered little in the second half - thanks mostly to the interceptions.

``I know they know how important it is to take the ball away,'' Smith said. ``There is an emphasis on it. And after a while, you see one guy doing it, you want to join in on that action. It's discouraging to the offense. We normally win when we score one time, and it's probably safe to say we haven't lost when we score a couple times on the defensive side.''

NOTES: Tillman became the franchise's all-time leader in defensive touchdowns with eight. ... Jeffery left the game with a hand injury. ... Jaguars PK Josh Scobee tied Mike Hollis for the most FGs (175) in franchise history. ... Jones-Drew became the third player in team history to eclipse 12,000 all-purpose yards, joining Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith.

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

GAME 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Time to get even

After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.

With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.

Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006. 

How will Raptors respond?

Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.

Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.

It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.

Playoff Beal

The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.

The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.

The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.

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For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast: