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Goodell confident that bounties are thing of the past

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Goodell confident that bounties are thing of the past

From Comcast SportsNet
CHICAGO (AP) -- Commissioner Roger Goodell is confident that bounty hunting will no longer be an issue in the NFL because of the severe penalties handed out in the wake of the New Orleans Saints scandal. Goodell said the actions taken by the league "speak very loudly." "I heard that from our clubs, from our personnel," he said during a news conference in Chicago on Thursday. "They recognize it's not part of the game. It doesn't need to be part of the game. And I don't think it's going to be an issue going forward." The NFL said it found that former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams oversaw a bounty program in New Orleans from 2009 to 2011 which paid off-the-books bonuses of 1,500 for "knockouts," or hits which forced a player out of games, and 1,000 for "cart-offs," which left players needing help off the field. Williams, who took a job as the defensive coordinator in St. Louis, has since been suspended indefinitely and coach Sean Payton was banished for the 2012 season. General manager Mickey Loomis was suspended eight games and assistant head coach Joe Vitt for six games. There was also a 500,000 fine for the team and the loss of two second-round draft picks, not to mention suspensions for several current and former Saints players. Current Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was suspended for the upcoming season, while defensive end Will Smith got a four-game punishment. Green Bay defensive end Anthony Hargrove (eight games) and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita (three games) were also punished. The NFL Players Association has challenged Goodell's power to impose penalties and has asked an arbitrator to decide if the players should be punished for the system. Goodell would not say if he thought the case would be resolved before the end of the season, pointing out that it's in arbitration. It's one of several areas where the union has challenged the league during a combative offseason, including a grievance accusing the NFL of using a secret salary cap during the uncapped 2010 season that cost the players at least 1 billion. The union also filed a grievance for drug-related suspensions for two Denver Broncos. Vilma has filed a defamation lawsuit against Goodell, whose lawyers requested a delay to respond, something the league calls routine in such cases. "I think one of the things that's made the NFL great is we've solved our own problems," Goodell said. "Several of those things are collectively bargained, which we've just concluded a 10-year agreement, and they're in the collective bargaining agreement. I believe that our process has worked. We've modified those processes, even outside of the collective bargaining, to make them responsible and responsive to their needs. But we do want to make sure that at every point we uphold the standards that our fans expect." Goodell was at Soldier Field with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to recognize the stadium as the first to become a LEED-certified building, meaning it is considered environmentally friendly. They also discussed the possibility of Chicago hosting a Super Bowl. "We did speak about this earlier," Goodell said. "We are, as you know, hosting a Super Bowl in New York in an open-air stadium in 2014, and we're excited about that. We think it's going to be a great thing for our fans and a great thing for New York. "I think if we can do it successfully there, and I think that opens up doors where we'll be looking at. Obviously, you know how to host great events. ... And you've got a great stadium." Emanuel touted the recent NATO summit as an example of the city's ability to host a big event, with world leaders in town, and he said Chicago would be a "perfect place" to have a Super Bowl. Of course, everyone is familiar with Chicago's reputation for savage winters and Soldier Field lacks a roof. It also holds just 63,500 fans. Would the city have to enlarge the stadium to attract a Super Bowl? Emanuel would not say. "I think the commissioner said something which is really, really important," Emanuel said. "The first step is to host something in New York, which is an open stadium." Goodell acknowledged that capacity "is always an issue." "The most important thing now is having a great stadium and a city that can have the infrastructure to host the hundreds of thousands of people that come in," he said.

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4 reasons why the Caps beat the Senators

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USA TODAY Sports

4 reasons why the Caps beat the Senators

The Capitals head into Thanksgiving on a high note after a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.

Here's why they won.

Line changes

Barry Trotz surprised everyone by changing up the lines and reuniting Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom despite coyly telling the media that he would use the same "group" just two hours before the game. The move worked, however, as an energized Caps team took the ice. The moves were not just felt on the top line, there was a boost all throughout the lineup to start the game and the energy the team played with was evident.

The Caps’ best offensive players looked like their best offensive players

Much has been written in recent days about the Caps’ top-six and its offensive struggles, but they seemed just fine against Ottawa. Ovechkin (1 goal), Backstrom (1 assist), T.J. Oshie (2 assists), Evgeny Kuznetsov (1 goal, 2 assists) and Jakub Vrana (2 goals) all had big nights.

Ovechkin's late first period goal

Multi-goal leads have been hard to come by for the Caps of late. Despite a strong first period, Washington held only a 1-0 lead as the first frame drew to a close. Instead of having a chance to regroup in the locker room, Ottawa found itself suddenly down by two as Ovechkin scored with just five seconds left. That goal set the tone for the start of the second period where Washington was able to tack on another two goals to take the 4-0 lead. Does that momentum carry over to the second without Ovechkin's late tally? I'm not so sure.

Killing a 5-on-3 power play in the second period

Despite the 4-0 deficit, the Senators hung around and scored in the second period to make it 4-1. Then Ovechkin was called for a high-stick and Backstrom got into a bit of a tussle with Ben Harpur after getting a high-stick from him. The ref sent Ovechkin, Backstrom and Harpur to the box. Just 44 seconds later, Tom Wilson joined them after getting called for a slash giving the Senators 1:16 of a two-man advantage power play. One goal would have pulled them within two with over a period left to play. This game was not over. This was a critical moment for Washington and the penalty kill delivered by killing off both penalties. After that, the game really was no longer in doubt.

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Wizards have letdown on defense, fall to Hornets in overtime

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Wizards have letdown on defense, fall to Hornets in overtime

The Washington Wizards lost the Charlotte Hornets 129-124 in overtime on Wednesday night at the Spectrum Center. Here's analysis of what went down...

Frustrating loss: The Wizards will not head into the Thanksgiving holiday a happy bunch. After an impressive road win at the Milwaukee Bucks, they let a winnable game slip away against the Hornets. They were up nine points with 3:32 left in the fourth, yet allowed the Hornets to force overtime and then dominate the extra period.

Defense was the problem for Washington. After holding opponents to 95 points or less in six of their last seven games, the Wizards gave up 129 points to an average offensive team. Yes, 15 of those points came in overtime, but the Wizards won't be happy with their defense after this one. They will probably regret the 53 bench points they gave up more than anything.

Beal, Wall heated up late: Neither John Wall or Bradley Beal had a rhythm in the first half, but both woke up later on for the Wizards. Wall had eight points in the first half, but on 3-for-11 shooting. Beal had seven points, but also on 3-for-11 from the field.

Stars can only be held in check for so long and Wall and Beal broke ultimately broke through. Wall had 11 points in the third quarter and Beal had seven. 

For a while it looked like Wall and Beal had taken the game over, but the Wizards couldn't take advantage despite Wall ending up with 31 points and 11 assists and Beal having 22 points, four rebounds and two steals.

Beal's night was highlighted by a series of dunks in the first half, including this one with two hands:

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Howard was a beast: The Wizards did a good job limiting Dwight Howard this past spring when they faced the Hawks in the playoffs, but they had no such luck on Wednesday in their first meeting with Howard's Hornets. Howard was dominant down low with 26 points and 13 rebounds. The Hornets did a good job feeding him in the post and when he has position there are little options beyond sending him to the free throw line. 

Marcin Gortat (eight points, 11 rebounds) is a good match for Howard on most nights. They know each other well as former teammates with the Orlando Magic. Gortat had a fine game, but Howard was at his best on Wednesday. He was coming off of a 25-point, 20-rebound performance and he kept it going against the Wizards.

Howard also blocked Beal's buzzer-beater at the end of regulation. Beal got the ball with two seconds left and tried driving to his left down the baseline. Howard read the move and swatted the ball out of bounds. Howard then had a big bucket with less than a minute to go. He had a putback on an airballed three that was a backbreaker for the Wizards, who needed a stop.

Meeks and Scott were a plus: The Wizards got a nice boost from their bench from Jodie Meeks (nine points) and Mike Scott (13 points), two guys who have proven this season to be instant offense when they're at their best. Scott came in and hit a three with a pair of midrange jumpers in the first half. Meeks was getting it down in the paint with floaters and layups on nice cuts to the basket. 

Scott hit three threes and is now shooting 44.8 percent for the season. It's only on 29 attempts, but that's not bad at all.

Lamb was a problem: The Wizards had a lot of trouble with Hornets reserve Jeremy Lamb, who has been Charlotte's most improved player so far this season. He was a force off the bench with 24 points in 37 minutes. Lamb has always had a lot of potential as a freak athlete with a sweet jumper. He may be starting to truly put it all together.

The Wizards even tried Kelly Oubre, Jr., one of their best defenders, on him. But Lamb kept getting buckets and added seven rebounds and five assists. 

Up next: The Wizards are off for Thanksgiving and Friday. They pick back up on Saturday with the Portland Trail Blazers in town. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

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