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Bengals revive season, beat reeling Giants 31-13

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Bengals revive season, beat reeling Giants 31-13

CINCINNATI (AP) The best game of Andy Dalton's career saved the Cincinnati Bengals' season, ended their four-game losing streak and provided a chance to get back into playoff contention with a strong closing run.

Things aren't so upbeat for the defending Super Bowl champions. Sure, the New York Giants are still in first place, but their trend is definitely down.

Dalton threw a career-high four touchdown passes - each to a different receiver - for a 31-13 victory Sunday that left the Bengals revived and the Giants reeling.

The Bengals (4-5) knew they had to win the game to have any realistic chance of making it to the playoffs.

Now, they get to play Kansas City and Oakland the next two weeks with an opportunity to get back over .500.

The odds are still against them, but the win over New York (6-3) kept them in it for at least a little while longer.

``To beat the defending Super Bowl champs is a big deal,'' said Andrew Hawkins, who had the second of the Bengals' four touchdown catches. ``The NFL has great parity. This was a great example of it. Today we played extremely well. Spirits were high.''

The Bengals were spirited leading up to the game. Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green told a New York sports radio station that the Giants ``have a lot of holes'' on their defense, which has given up a lot of big plays.

Some of the Giants were miffed. Safety Antrel Rolle said he'd let his pads do the talking during the game.

Rolle gave up one of the four TD passes, and the Giants were pretty much out of words to describe their all-around worst showing of the season.

``Just a little subpar from what we're used to,'' said Victor Cruz, who had three catches for only 26 yards. ``I don't know how to explain it. I don't know what's going on. I don't know what's wrong.''

It's starting to feel familiar. Last season, the Giants also opened 6-2, then dropped four in a row. The Giants won three of their last four to reach the playoffs, where they got hot at the right time.

``Obviously we know that last year we went through a tough stretch and we were able to come out and win some games when we needed to, get back in the mix and make the playoffs,'' Eli Manning said. ``We still have the lead in the division now.''

The Giants remain ahead of Dallas (4-5) in the NFC East, but head into their bye week with a lot of problems. The most puzzling ones involve the offense, which was one of the league's best the first six weeks but has fallen apart.

Manning threw for only 125 yards - his lowest total in four years - during a sloppy 24-20 loss to Pittsburgh a week ago. That showing could be excused after the Giants spent their preparation week dealing with the fallout of Superstorm Sandy.

There was no explanation for this one. Manning threw two interceptions in the third quarter that set up Cincinnati touchdowns, and the Giants had four turnovers in the second half. Plus, Cruz dropped a potential touchdown pass while the Bengals pulled away.

``That's what won the game for us, getting the ball with great field position and scoring when we got down there,'' said Dalton, who was 21 of 30 for 199 yards without a sack or interception.

Manning was 29 of 46 for 215 yards with no touchdowns, a season-high four sacks, the two interceptions and a fumble.

``I still believe Eli will bounce back and will play the way that he has played, at a championship level,'' Coughlin said. ``I certainly don't quite understand where we are and why.''

Manning couldn't uphold the family legacy of beating the Bengals. A week earlier, older brother Peyton led the Denver Broncos to a 31-23 win in Cincinnati, improving to 8-0 career against the Bengals.

Even though he got a scouting report from his brother during the week, Eli couldn't pull it off before a less-than-capacity crowd of 56,614. He fell to 1-2 career against Cincinnati.

``No, I'm not worried,'' Manning said. ``Over the years, we've gone through stretches where we haven't played our best football and we've been able to bounce out of that, and that's what's going on right now.''

The Giants' defense also has big issues. Cornerback Corey Webster let Green run past him along the sideline on the game's fifth play, thinking a safety was behind him to help. Wrong. Green was wide open for a 56-yard touchdown that proved Green's point.

Right away, he'd found a huge hole in New York's defense. The Giants have given up 39 passes of 20 yards or more, 10 for touchdowns.

``Their defense is great,'' said Green, who had seven catches for a game-high 85 yards. ``We were able to break some big plays.''

NOTES: The home team has won every game in the series, which the Bengals lead 6-3. ... Giants WR Domenik Hixon left in the first quarter with an ankle injury and didn't return. ... It was the first time this season that Dalton didn't throw an interception. ... Green has a TD catch in eight straight games, tying T.J. Houshmandzadeh for second-longest streak in Bengals history. ... There were nearly 9,000 unused seats at Paul Brown.

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The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series

The team lost a close one in Game 1 and was run out of the building in Game 2. Game 3 was must-win, and the Wizards knew what needed to happen in order for them to secure the victory.

"Everybody eats." 

That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making players and feeding his teammates.

On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.

Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and  Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.

But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.

Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3. 

But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.

So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were only going to hold Bradley Beal down for so long. After two so-so games to begin the Wizards-Raptors playoff series, the All-Star shooting guard was bound to find his way offensively and that arrival came in a Game 3 win on Friday night.

Beal was brilliant and much more in line with what he's shown in the postseason throughout his career. Game 2 was his worst playoff game as an NBA player, he scored only nine points. Game 3 was one of his best on the postseason stage, or at least one of his most timely and important.

The Wizards needed more from Beal to give themsevles a chance in this series. An 0-3 deficit would have been a death sentence. His production is so key to their success that head coach Scott Brooks and point guard John Wall met with Beal in between Games 2 and 3 to figure out how to get him going.

Whether that was the catalyst or not, the results followed. Beal poured in 28 points in 10-for-19 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He hit four threes, more than he had in the first two games combined.

Beal wasted no time to make an impact scoring the ball. His first points came on a quick burst to the basket where he stopped on a dime, turned around and banked it in. By the end of the first quarter, he had 12 points in 11 minutes.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, get shots that I wanted which is what they were going to force me to take," Beal said.

After Game 2, Brooks and Beal described how physical the Raptors were defending him. They were holding on to him and staying close, even when he wasn't moving off the ball.

Brooks saw a difference in how Beal responded to that in Game 3.

"Brad came out and was looking to go towards the basket and not just letting them hold him and going along with it. He didn’t want to dance with his opponent, he wanted to get away from them. That was a critical part of his success," Brooks said.

Beal's 28 points were as much as he scored in Games 1 and 2 together and just about what he averaged through four games against the Raptors during the regular season (28.8). By halftime of Game 3, Beal had 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field.

Beal hit two threes in the first quarter and another two in the second quarter. Several of those threes were set up by Wall, who used the meeting with Brooks and Beal to ask how he can set him up better as the point guard.

In Game 3, they were on the same page.

"I do think this man [John Wall] next to me, he creates and facilitates for the whole team and gets everybody easy shots," Beal said. "I talk to you guys all the time and I can’t tell you the last time I actually got a regular catch and shoot three just in a regular half court set. When he came back, I got like three or four off the bat."

What Beal did in Game 3 is what the Wizards are used to seeing from him this time of the year. Despite being only 24 years old, he has a strong track record in the playoffs.

Through 37 career postseason games, Beal is averaging 22.3 points, more than his career average of 18.7 in the regular season. In each of his previous three postseason runs, he has averaged more points during the playoffs than he did in the regular seasons leading up.

That production has earned him the nickname 'Playoff Beal' and when he goes off like he did in Game 3, good things usually happen. The Wizards are 10-6 in the playoffs during his career when he scores 25 points or more.

Wall also boasts impressive career numbers in the playoffs. When the Wizards have both of their stars playing at their best, they are hard to beat. With peak Beal on board, this series looks a lot different than it did not that long ago.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

GORTAT DITCHES MOHAWK, TEAMMATES APPROVE

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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