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Cowboys have penalty problem, with winning twist

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Cowboys have penalty problem, with winning twist

IRVING, Texas (AP) Somewhere in the middle of six defensive penalties that gave Philadelphia first downs, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett turned to backup quarterback Kyle Orton to talk a little game simulation.

``I want to hear 800 hard counts in practice this week,'' Garrett recalled himself saying while watching jumpy Dallas defenders pile up the offsides calls Sunday.

The game was the fourth in which Dallas has committed 13 penalties this season, but here's the funny part. The Cowboys are 3-1 in those games after beating the Eagles 38-23, and they're 0-2 with their season low in yellow flags - two.

``Oh, I think there's a few different ways you can spin that,'' Garrett said. ``You know, for years the Oakland Raiders were the most penalized team and they won a lot of football games. And they used to spin it like it was an aggressive nature that they had and that's the kind of team that they wanted to be. I don't buy that completely, though. You don't want to hurt yourself as a football team.''

The penalties ultimately didn't hurt Dallas (4-5) against the Eagles because that same defense scored two touchdowns on an interception return by Brandon Carr and a fumble recovery by Jason Hatcher.

Hatcher had the first two offsides penalties, both resulting in first downs on third-down plays on the Eagles' first drive. Philadelphia was the only team in the league without points on its opening drive before getting a touchdown Sunday.

The Hatcher penalties were at least explainable because he's a defensive lineman, prone to jump when a quarterback puts some emphasis on a signal without taking the snap - the so-called hard count. It doesn't make sense when a cornerback does it away from the ball, and rookie Morris Claiborne jumped twice.

``As a defensive football team you are always teaching aggressiveness, getting off the ball, attacking and all of that,'' Garrett said. ``But at the same time you have to be disciplined.''

Maybe Claiborne was just having a bad day, perhaps his worst as a pro. He got beat for the game-opening touchdown by Riley Cooper, who had just two catches for the season before the leaping one-handed grab in the end zone. Claiborne also was called for defensive holding twice and interference once.

``It was a struggle, sort of like that third baseman when they bunt it to him early on, in the first inning, he picks it up and throws it 15 rows over the first baseman's head,'' Garrett said. ``The bunts keep coming, right? So they kept going after him, and that's an experience a lot of rookie corners have to experience in this league.''

The Cowboys, tied for second in the league with 74 penalties going into Sunday's home game against Cleveland (2-7), had 13 in three of the first five games, and most of the talk then was about an offensive line committing too many false starts and holding penalties.

Against Philadelphia, the focus of the problem shifted to the defensive line, but this was the same group that pressured Michael Vick early and sidelined him with a concussion. The Cowboys sacked rookie backup Nick Foles twice, including one that resulted in Hatcher's touchdown.

``You don't want to take the aggressiveness away from those guys,'' Garrett said. ``The best defensive lines are the ones that get off the football, and we do a pretty good job of getting off the football. For the most part we've been pretty good in this area. We just have to correct it.''

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Orioles bats stay silent against Cleveland

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Orioles bats stay silent against Cleveland

BALTIMORE -- Mike Clevenger pitched a two-hitter in his first career complete game, and the Cleveland Indians hit three solo homers off Chris Tillman in a 4-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

Jose Ramirez went 3 for 4 with his team-leading fifth home run. Yan Gomes and Yonder Alonso also went deep for Cleveland, which came into the game ranked second-to-last in the AL in runs and last in batting average.

Clevenger (2-0) hardly needed the offensive support. Pitching on seven days' rest, the right-hander struck out three, walked two and allowed only one runner past first base.

The only two hits he allowed were singles by Manny Machado in the fourth inning and Chance Sisco in the fifth.

It was Clevenger's 35th career start. His previous longest outing was 7 1/3 innings, earlier this month against Kansas City.

While Clevenger is unbeaten in 11 starts since July 31, Tillman has experienced an opposite fate. This was his 22nd straight start without a victory, dating back to his first outing last season.

Tillman (0-4) gave up four runs, eight hits and a walk in six innings. The three home runs were one more than he yielded in his first three starts this season.

Michael Brantley hit a run-scoring groundout in the first inning and Gomes connected in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.

The Orioles put runners on the corners with one out in the fourth, their lone threat against Clevenger, who responded by retiring Tim Beckham on a short fly to left and getting Anthony Santander to ground out.

Ramirez led off the sixth with a drive to left, and Alonso hit a two-out shot that landed on Eutaw Street beyond the right-field scoreboard.

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Tarik's 3 Stars: Nick Backstrom the OT hero in series-changing Game 5 win

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Tarik's 3 Stars: Nick Backstrom the OT hero in series-changing Game 5 win

Nicklas Backstrom tipped in a Dmitry Orlov shot in overtime, and the Caps beat the Blue Jackets 4-3 in Game 5 to take a three-games-to-two series lead in their 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series.

Washington can now clinch the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series Monday night in Columbus.

The Capitals gave up the first goal in the game for the first time in the series. But the Capitals had an answer. The Capitals then took the lead. But the Blue Jackets had an answer. The Capitals took the lead again in the second period, but the Blue Jackets tied the game in the third.

But Nicklas Backstrom had the answer in overtime.

Tarik El-Bashir's 3 Stars of Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Game 3 

1. Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

Backstrom delivered the Caps’ biggest goal of the season 11:53 into the extra session by knocking a point shot by Dmitry Orlov down and past Sergei Bobrovsky, who was the Blue Jackets’ best player in overtime.

The goal was Backstrom’s first of the series.

He also recorded an assist.

2. Matt Calvert, Blue Jackets

The third line winger scored nine goals in the regular season. After popping a couple in Game 5, he’s now got three in this series.

And Saturday’s was a doozy. After T.J. Oshie mishandled the puck at the blue line, Calvert was off to the races. He whiffed on his wrist shot but still managed to get the puck (and himself) in the net to even things, 2-2, early in the second period.

3. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals

Kuzy was arguably the Caps’ most active forward.

Early in the second period, the smooth-skating center finished a three-on-one with a sneaky wrister that slithered through Bobrovsky’s pads. Kuznetsov also nearly set up Alex Ovechkin at the doorstep with a ridiculous slap pass. Alas, Ovi was turned by Bob, who went into the full splits to get a piece of the puck.

 

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