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Chiefs have plenty of adversity, need more wins

Chiefs have plenty of adversity, need more wins

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Little has gone right for the Kansas City Chiefs this season.

There were blowout losses to start the season, injuries to key players and now the fan base has been cast into the mud by comments made by offensive tackle Eric Winston, alleging a small percentage of them cheered when quarterback Matt Cassel was hurt last week.

Sounds like a good time to hit the road.

The Chiefs visit Tampa Bay on Sunday in search of their second win of the season. They get a bye week after that before hosting Oakland, and then have two more games on the road.

That should give a team that's closed ranks behind Winston and backup quarterback Brady Quinn a chance to focus on itself, away from the suddenly volatile atmosphere of Arrowhead Stadium.

``If we win, you can say, `Yeah, it's a good thing,''' Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said, when asked whether going on the road amid such turmoil can be a positive thing for the team.

``If we lose, hey, it may not be the best thing,'' Crennel added quickly. ``This is a bottom-line business. When you win, things seem to be better. When you lose, they seem to be worse.''

Hard to believe things can get a whole lot worse.

The Chiefs are the runaway league leaders in turnovers through the first five weeks of the season. The defense is giving up more points than just about anybody, even after holding the Ravens to nine last week. The rush defense has been weak, the pass offense ineffective.

If not for a franchise-record, 18-point rally to beat New Orleans - another team in turmoil - in overtime, the Chiefs would be winless through the first five games of the season.

Then there's the trouble away from the field: Fans purchasing banners to fly over the stadium asking for the general manager to be fired, and Winston laying into those who cheered when Cassel was hurt, comments that quickly went viral and cast the organization in a negative light. Even team Chairman Clark Hunt rushed to the defense of the fans this week.

``I feel like we've stuck together pretty good,'' Winston said. ``I don't feel like this team has ever been fractured, even after we've gotten off to this rough start.''

Cassel was officially ruled out against Tampa Bay on Thursday, which means Quinn will make his first NFL start since the 2009 season, when he was still with the Cleveland Browns.

Perhaps having a new set of hands under center will give the team a much-needed lift.

Or perhaps getting out of town will do the trick.

``You could say there's desperation, but you have to handle it the right way,'' Pro Bowl linebacker Derrick Johnson said. ``At 1-4, you need a win. You need a win, you need one win. You can say desperation, but you can't panic. We have to handle it the right way.''

Whoever coined the phrase, ``Adversity brings out the best in people,'' certainly could use the Chiefs this week to tell whether there's any truth to the statement.

``I think adversity, what it does is pull a unit together,'' said Crennel, who is 27-44 as an NFL head coach. ``It doesn't make any difference who's watching or who's looking. The fact that there is adversity that can kind of pull a team together.''

Crennel said much of the adversity has been of the Chiefs' own construction.

They've committed 19 turnovers through their first five games, more than any other team at the same point in the season since the 1997 Saints. They've also committed 23 penalties over the past three weeks, including eight for 60 yards in last Sunday's loss to Baltimore.

One of the penalties was a pass interference call against wide receiver Dexter McCluster that wiped out what would have been the go-ahead touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe in the fourth quarter.

Now, the Chiefs are in danger of being out of the playoff race by the middle of October.

Adversity? The Chiefs have plenty of it.

What they need more of is wins.

``I think a team comes together through all sorts of adversity, regardless of what it is,'' Quinn said this week, shortly after practicing for the first time with the starters. ``We're just trying to come together, eliminate turnovers and penalties and try to win a football game.''

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How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

How Nicklas Backstrom saved the Capitals 3 different times in Game 5

The Capitals found themselves in deep trouble on Saturday.

Game 5 at Capital One Arena provided Washington a golden opportunity to take a 3-2 lead in their 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. A loss -- another home loss -- would have been a devastating blow.

After battling back from a 2-0 series deficit, to lose in Washington would mean facing elimination in Columbus. Game 5 was the game the Caps needed and it would have slipped away from them if not for Nicklas Backstrom.

The Caps’ most underrated superstar -- the one who is constantly overshadowed by the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby -- took center stage on Saturday as he tipped a Dmitry Orlov shot past Sergei Bobrovsky at 11:53 of overtime to seal the victory for Washington.

“It was just a good shot from [Orlov],” Backstrom said after the game. “I thought before he had a chance to block it, and I got a tip on it, and it’s usually what happens in the playoffs. Tip goals or rebound goals. That’s the way it is. It was nice.”

Backstrom’s overtime goal capped off a three-point night for the veteran center, who also scored in the first period and assisted on a goal from T.J. Oshie.

The team ended up needing every one of his points.

From the start, Columbus outplayed Washington. With the series tied 2-2, a best-of-three mentality took over and the Blue Jackets pushed hard for the pivotal Game 5 win.

It is in those very moments that team needs its superstar players to step up. In Game 3, it was Holtby who stole the show to help Washington steal a win in Columbus.

On Saturday, it was Backstrom.

Columbus converted a shorthanded goal to seize a 1-0 lead in what was shaping up to be a dominant first period. A fluke goal from Backstrom, however, made sure the score was knotted up, 1-1, after the opening frame.

With the puck behind the goal line, Backstrom tried to slip a pass through the crease. Bobrovsky got a piece of the puck with his stick, but the amount of spin on the pass forced the puck to carom off the stick, off the back of Bobrovsky himself, and into the net.

“I was trying to make a pass,” Backstrom said. “Honestly, got lucky. I don’t know who came back-door there but I was trying for him. I’ll take it.”

After a back and forth game, the Blue Jackets came out swinging to start the third. Down 3-2, Columbus tied the game just 2:30 in and made a real push to win the game in regulation. Washington was outshot 16-1 in the third and looked like they had no push at all.

But the Caps looked like a different team when they took the ice for the extra frame. What happened in between periods?

“As I was leaving the room after the period, I could hear guys, the right guys, all saying the right things,” head coach Barry Trotz said.

When later asked if one of those guys was Backstrom, Trotz said, “Absolutely. He's one of the leaders on our team. They were all talking about let's make sure we're doing the right things. There's a lot of pride, lot of good leadership in that room.”

Whatever Backstrom and the other leaders said did the trick. Washington made a strong push in overtime leading to Backstrom’s game-winning goal.

This isn’t the first time Backstrom has delivered. Saturday’s overtime tally is the fourth of his career. That’s the most in franchise history and tied for fifth in NHL history.

Through his efforts on the ice, the Caps were able to erase a bad first period and steal the win in overtime. But it also took a big effort off the ice to get the job done.

“If you just look at the scoresheet, that doesn't say enough of about Nick Backstrom, his contribution from in the dressing room to on the ice to key moments to key faceoffs,” Trotz said.

“I've been on his soapbox about how complete a player he is and I never really worry about Nick Backstrom. He's got enough games under his belt, he's got enough stats to back it up and he's played huge minutes and he's one of our leaders. He's a tremendous hockey player.”

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John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

John Tortorella guarantees series will return to Washington for Game 7

After losing Game 1 and Game 2 at home, Alex Ovechkin declared "It’s going to be fun when we bounce back and going to tie the series and come back here and play Game 5 at home.”

Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella seems to be taking a similar tactic.

The Capitals won Game 5 in overtime on Saturday in a game that could prove to be emotionally draining for the Blue Jackets in a number of ways.

  • It was Washington's third straight win
  • Columbus was the better team for the majority of the game, but still took the loss
  • The Blue Jackets now face elimination despite holding a 2-0 series lead to start and losing only once in regulation

Tortorella has become famous for his fiery postgame press conferences in the past, including abruptly walking out after Game 4's presser when he declared "We sucked" to the media.

Saturday's was another fun one.

In a presser that lasted less than two minutes, Tortorella twice said, "We'll be back here for Game 7."

After such a draining game, Tortorella was asked how he would get them ready for what is sure to be an emotionally charged Game 6.

"I won't have to say a damn word to them," Tortorella said. "No. We'll be back here for Game 7."

The Blue Jackets will have to win Game 6 in Columbus to make that happen.

Barry Trotz was asked for his reaction after Tortorella's comments.

"What else are you going to say? That's good. He wants to get it out there, he believes in his team just as I believe in my team. It's our job for that not to happen."

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