Capitals

Bengals back in playoff chase with 3 blowout wins

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Bengals back in playoff chase with 3 blowout wins

CINCINNATI (AP) The Bengals have gotten back into contention by blowing out teams at a pace that's nearly unprecedented for them.

A 34-10 win over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday was Cincinnati's third in a row, all by at least 18 points. It's the first time since 1976 that Cincinnati has won three straight by so many points.

A four-game losing streak put their season on the brink at 3-5. Those three emphatic wins have them tied with Pittsburgh at 6-5 for the final AFC wild card spot. The Steelers won their first head-to-head game this season at Paul Brown Stadium.

``The anticipation comes down to these last five (games) now and what they mean and how important they are,'' coach Marvin Lewis said on Monday. ``We're in OK position. We're not in great position, but we're in OK position. And we've got to improve upon it each and every week.''

It'll be tough to play better than they have the last three weeks while saving their season. The one downside to the streak: only one of the three wins came against another contending team.

The streak started with a 31-13 win over the Giants, who were in a rut on offense. Next came a 28-6 win over Kansas City, which is 1-10. Then came the Raiders, who have the NFL's worst defense, giving up 169 points while losing the last four games and falling to 3-8.

Now, there's hope heading down the stretch.

``Even with the four-game losing streak, we never felt like we were out of the playoff race,'' quarterback Andy Dalton said. ``Now we've just got to keep on playing like we're playing, and everything will fall into place.''

They've fixed their two of their biggest problems during the winning streak. The offense has finally developed a running game, and the defense has gotten steady pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis has run for 100 yards each of the last two games. He had the two longest runs of his career - 48 and 39 yards - while piling up 129 overall against the Raiders. Cincinnati ran for a season-high 189 yards against the Chiefs and topped it with 221 against the Raiders.

``We're starting to find the way we like to play, and that style, that attitude is key,'' left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. ``We've got to continue to do it. This isn't enough.

``We feel like the (losing) streak we had in the middle of the season is purely and solely because we felt too good about ourselves and relaxed. I don't think this team is like that right now.''

The defense got steady pressure on Carson Palmer in his return to Cincinnati, leaving his back bruised and scraped. Palmer was sacked four times and limited to 146 yards passing because there was seldom time for a play to develop.

``What's really cool is that our offense is clicking now, and our defense is clicking and special teams have been playing great,'' defensive tackle Domata Peko said. ``So when you get us rolling on all cylinders, we're going to be a tough team to beat.''

They also went face to face with the Raiders when they thought one of them crossed the line.

Defensive end Lamarr Houston tackled Dalton after a play was blown dead in the fourth quarter because of a false start. Whitworth saw Dalton go down, made his way through several players and went facemask to facemask with Houston, igniting a brawl.

Whitworth and Houston were ejected, along with Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly for coming off the bench. Kelly and Houston ended up on top of Whitworth in the middle of the scrum.

Significant fines are expected when the NFL reviews video of the scrum. Lewis said Monday he doesn't expect Whitworth to get a suspension. He also said Whitworth should have shown better judgment and avoided an ejection.

``He did something we can't have happen,'' Lewis said. ``We can't have that. No way around it. We were in a bad situation. We don't want to make a bad situation worse.''

Notes: The Bengals go to San Diego (4-7) next Sunday, followed by a home game against Dallas (5-6). They play at Philadelphia (3-7) and Pittsburgh before hosting AFC North leader Baltimore (9-2). ... The last three-game streak of blowouts came early in the 1976 season, when Cincinnati beat Green Bay 28-7, Cleveland 45-24 and Tampa Bay 21-0. The Bengals finished 10-6 that year under coach Bill ``Tiger'' Johnson, but failed to make the playoffs.

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

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Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

New free agent Doug Martin unlikely fix to Redskins' woeful run game

News broke Tuesday that the Tampa Bay Bucaneers released former Pro Bowl running back Doug Martin, and while the name certainly triggers value, his play of the last two seasons should calm the excitement. 

Since a 2015 season where Martin rushed for 1,400 yards and averaged nearly 5 yards-per-carry in 16 games, Martin has been suspended, undergone substance abuse rehab and missed games due to injury.

In the last two seasons, Martin has played in 16 of 32 games, rushed for 827 yards and averaged less than 3 yards-per-carry.

Over his six year NFL career with the Bucs, Martin has only played two full seasons. Those two seasons were great, in 2012 and 2015, but the other four have been largely disappointing. 

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The Redskins averaged just 3.6 yards-per-carry last season, and could definitely use a boost in the run game. It's entirely possible Washington might look to upgrade their offensive backfield this offseason, either in free agency or in the 2018 NFL Draft, but Martin does not look like the player to help. 

Early in the 2017 season, it appeared the Redskins run game might be a strength for the offense. After a disappointing effort on the ground to open the year in a loss to the Eagles, the Redskins rushed for at least 111 yards in their next three contests, including nearly 230 yards on the ground in a Week 2 win over the Rams. 

Injuries undid the run game, however, as Rob Kelley got hurt and the offensive line lost players, too. Over the course of the season, rookie Samaje Perine sustained minor injuries and Chris Thompson was lost for the year with a broken leg. 

Going into 2018, Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Kapri Bibbs are all on the roster and expected for now to stay with the team. That's yet another reason why the Redskins are likely to stay away from Doug Martin.

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