Georgia upbeat after 45-31 win over Nebraska


Georgia upbeat after 45-31 win over Nebraska

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) For each of its previous two bowl trips, Georgia left the field shrouded in the uncomfortable feelings of a season-ending loss.

While this offseason could certainly feature some big changes to its roster, it will at least begin on a high note.

A month removed from missing a berth in the BCS title game because of a narrow loss to Alabama, the sixth-ranked Bulldogs rode junior quarterback Aaron Murray's five touchdown passes to a 45-31 victory over No. 23 Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl on Tuesday.

Murray and fellow underclassman Jarvis Jones could certainly jump to the NFL this offseason, but for one more game Bulldogs' fans got to see a championship-caliber team intact.

``Last year we went 0-2 and win 10 in a row, but we can't finish that season out. And this year we had another really good season, win the East, and we didn't win the SEC championship, but we certainly performed a lot better,'' Bulldogs' coach Mark Richt said. ``So now we wanted to win this bowl, to just maybe prove to ourselves that we are one of the better teams in the country.''

Murray's five touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter, set a Georgia bowl record.

He shook off a pair of first-half interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and passed for 427 yards - also a Bulldogs' bowl record - against the nation's top-ranked passing defense. He was the game's most valuable player on the way to earning his first bowl victory at Georgia.

Georgia (12-2) also reached 12 wins for the third time in school history.

``I don't know what it's like to head into an offseason with a win,'' Murray said. ``It's a great feeling to get a win. It's great for the seniors, who have meant so much to this team. They've done a great job of leading this team the whole season.

``To get 12 wins. ... That's something special.''

He downplayed questions about his future.

``The future - I don't know what's going to happen,'' he said. ``I'm just enjoying the moment right now.''

Jones said any regrets about the Alabama loss are gone now.

``I think it speaks for itself,'' he said. ``The SEC game was a couple of weeks ago. We did what we can and we lost. We came up kind of short. And it was definitely a game that we had the opportunity to win. But you can't take away from the day. We came out here and we executed.

``We gave our seniors the opportunity to leave here with a win and a bowl game, and it's definitely something we look forward to and something we'll remember for a long time.''

Nebraska (10-4) lost its third consecutive bowl game, and finished the season with two straight woeful defensive performances, losing the Big Ten championship game 70-31.

The Cornhuskers led 24-23 at the half, but committed two of their three turnovers in the final 30 minutes.

Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez had two interceptions and two touchdown passes and Rex Burkhead rushed for 140 yards in his final college game.

But Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said the efficiency of Murray and Georgia in converting 12 of 17 third-down opportunities was too much to overcome.

``I thought the plan was good,'' Pelini said of his team's defensive scheme. ``Third down hurt us, obviously. When were in position, it was man-on-man down the field. We needed to make some of those plays and we didn't. And, you know, again, that cost us a football game.''

Nebraska drops to 12-7 against SEC opponents in bowl games.

Richt, trailed by questions about his team's focus following its loss to Alabama in the SEC championship game, thinks his team made a statement.

``We wanted to win this game to prove to ourselves that we are one of the better teams in the country,'' he said. ``I think our guys did a good job of sucking it up when they were tired. ... But when you make a big play here and there, it gives you a little more energy as well. ... We made enough big plays at the right moment.''

Nebraska finished with 443 yards of total offense, but the Bulldogs' defense was stingy when it needed to be.

They sacked Martinez five times, with junior All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones notching two to finish with a record 14.5 for the season. Damian Swann had both of Georgia's interceptions.

Murray found Keith Marshall free near the sideline for a 24-yard touchdown pass that gave Georgia a 38-31 lead with 14:52 to play in the game.

Following a Nebraska punt, Murray then hit Chris Conley for a short pass over the middle and he outran the Cornhuskers defenders for an 87-yard score.

Conley also scored on a 49-yard touchdown catch that tied the game in the third quarter.

Nebraska clung to a 24-23 lead at the half, taking back the advantage late in the second quarter on a 16-yard strike from Martinez to Burkhead.

After a pair of early turnovers, Murray seemed to be getting Georgia's offense back on track, as the Bulldogs punctuated a four-play, 38-yard drive with a 24-yard touchdown run by Todd Gurley to make it 23-17.

Both Bulldogs' turnovers came on Murray interceptions as the nation's top-ranked passing defense crowded Georgia's receivers and disguised its coverage schemes.

Gurley helped open things up, though, rushing for 81 yards in the opening 30 minutes.

Nebraska also allowed Georgia three sacks, thwarting some promising drives.

Nebraska's defense didn't need long to force the game's first turnover, picking off Murray on Georgia's opening drive of the game.

The Cornhuskers went three-and-out on their first possession.

But Brett Maher's punt was blocked by the Bulldogs' Shawn Williams. There was a scramble for the ball in the end zone before it trickled out of the back for a safety.

The Bulldogs then went up 9-0 their ensuing possession following the free kick, capping an 80-yard drive on Murray's 29-yard touchdown pass to tight end Arthur Lynch.

Nebraska's offense finally got going on its next possession, scoring on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Martinez to Jamal Turner.

The Cornhuskers' defense made it 14-9 when linebacker Will Compton came up with their second interception of Murray and returned it 24 yards for the score.

``I'm real proud of Aaron and job he did,'' Richt said. ``(He) had a couple of things go not exactly the way he wanted them to go. Had a couple of picks early. Just hung in there, very resilient and finished.''


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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 18, 39 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at next year’s free agents

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens.

Note: I’m not including Brandon Scherff here because the team has a fifth-year option on him that they surely will activate before the May 2 deadline.

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard).

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility.

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon.

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup.

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight.

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Regarding the reported visit of defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins with the Redskins:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 29
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 131
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 175

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 72 Capitals at Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pa.

When: 5:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Flyers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-23-7) take on the Flyers (36-25-11) Sunday, March 18 at 5:00 p.m. ET in Philadelphia.


The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

4:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
4:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
5:00 p.m. — Capitals at Flyers
7:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
8:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
9:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


The Capitals-Flyers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.