Redskins

Champion Giants won't fly under radar any more

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Champion Giants won't fly under radar any more

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Despite being the defending Super Bowl champions, the New York Giants have managed to fly under the radar most of the season.

In the preseason, they were overshadowed in their own area by Tim Tebow and the quarterback hoopla with the New York Jets.

A nationally televised season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys turned off more people. And a nationally televised Sunday night setback to the Philadelphia Eagles that dropped them to 0-2 in the NFC East left many wondering whether this team would even be a playoff team.

Well, guess again.

The Giants (4-2) are not only back, the target on their backs may be even bigger after a dominating 26-3 win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, a team that many felt were the Super Bowl favorite in the NFC.

At the least, the Giants made an enormous statement to every other NFL contender: Don't ignore them.

``There's no doubt,'' linebacker Michael Boley said. ``I think we feel that once we put everything together, offense, defense and special teams; that's something that is going to be tough for teams to beat us. We kind of put everything together yesterday and we showed that we're a team to be reckoned with.''

What made the Giants win so impressive was the nature of it. Many felt the Giants could give the 49ers a game, but the one-sided win was totally unexpected.

Jim Harbaugh's team was coming off two lopsided wins, a 34-0 trouncing of the Jets and a 45-3 decision over Buffalo in a contest where Alex Smith and company gained a franchise record 621 yards.

The Giants, whose defense had been inconsistent all season, held the 49ers to a field goal and intercepted Smith three times. Eli Manning and the offense didn't turn the ball over and Ahmad Bradshaw gained 116 of New York's 149 yards on the ground and also reached the end zone.

``For some reason, every time we do something, someone finds a way to say that we could have done it better,'' receiver Domenik Hixon said. ``At the end of the day, we're out there to win ball games, I guess, not to steal a headline.''

Coupled with the Eagles' loss at home to Detroit, the Giants will head into Sunday's game against the Redskins (3-3) with a one-game lead in the division.

Don't expect a letdown though.

Washington is coming off a 38-26 win over Minnesota and the Giants are bound to be wary of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who ran for 138 yards and a touchdown and threw for another 182 yards and another score.

If that isn't enough, the Giants remember, the Redskins beat them twice last season without RG3.

``I try not to remember,' Boley said of last year's games. ``We didn't play well as a team, neither offense or defense. We didn't really play well either of those games.''

Boley said this week will be an opportunity to get going again, something the Giants did late last season in winning their final six games en route to capturing their second Super Bowl in five seasons.

``We know we're 4-2 right now, but for us to come in, starting with this week, and get a division win is a step closer for us to put ourselves in position to get to the postseason,'' he said.

Coach Tom Coughlin wasn't sure whether the win would make opponents put a bigger target on the Giants' back or not. After all, off a Super Bowl win, they already had one there.

``I don't know how it can be any bigger,'' Coughlin said. ``You just know you are going to get everybody's best and that's all there is to it, and you look forward to it. It creates greater challenges - week in and week out - to be at your best.''

Offensive tackle David Diehl returned to action against the 49ers as a sixth lineman in some formations and Coughlin felt he played well. He was not sure whether he would be put back into the starting lineup with Will Beatty and Sean Locklear playing well at the tackle spots.

The Giants, who saw their defensive line wake up and produce six sacks, might get even more help this week. Veteran defensive tackle Chris Canty is ready to return to practice after spending the first six weeks of the season on the physically unable to perform list.

New York does not have to activate Canty this weekend. But the Giants do have the option to do so if the training staff feels he is ready.

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

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USA TODAY Sports

In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries. 

Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday. 

"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."

Williams' words were true, and telling. 

First the true part:

  • In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.

Now the telling part:

  • The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure. 

That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.

That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent. 

"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said. 

Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018. 

When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.

"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."

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How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

Things did not look good for the Capitals after two games.

Facing a 0-2 series hole after losing both games in Washington, it looked like it could be an early summer. The Caps were going to be the first team to ever lose a series in the playoffs to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

HOW DID THE CAPS WIN THEIR SERIES AGAINST COLUMBUS? FIND OUT HERE

But the Caps rallied.

Washington won the next four games and turned what looked like it would be another postseason disaster into a postseason triumph.

Only once in franchise history had the Caps rallied from a 0-2 deficit and only once had the Caps won four straight games to win a series. They managed both against the Blue Jackets.

Here's how the Caps were able to rally to a first-round victory over Columbus.