Jared Allen apologetic for hit on Bears lineman


Jared Allen apologetic for hit on Bears lineman

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) The hit was so uncharacteristic of Jared Allen.

The Minnesota Vikings defensive end has never been accused of being a dirty player, yet there he was, launching himself into Chicago Bears offensive lineman Lance Louis during an interception return by teammate Antoine Winfield on Sunday. The blindside blow ended Louis' season and drew a $21,000 fine from the NFL.

Allen remained apologetic on Thursday for the results of the hit, but also was steadfast in his stance that he never intended to injure Louis and thought he made a clean football play.

``Just making a block on an interception,'' Allen said. ``Like I said before, it was never my intention to hurt a guy. I feel bad that he got hurt. That's obviously never my intention. But `Toine's coming up the sideline to make a play. I blocked the guy and sometimes bad things happen.''

Coach Leslie Frazier said Allen's mistake was leaving his feet.

``You have to be careful about leaving your feet,'' Frazier said. ``Other than that, it was a good block. I didn't think it was a vicious block.''

In a small way, Allen may have been taking his frustrations out on Louis in the third quarter after spending so much time chasing Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in vain. Even against a banged-up, makeshift offensive line, Allen was rarely able to get even a whiff of Cutler in a demoralizing 28-10 loss at Soldier Field.

The one chance he did get, he ended up a half-step away from Cutler before the QB zipped a 13-yard touchdown pass to Matt Spaeth in the second quarter that put the Bears up 25-3.

``I got chipped by a tight end coming in and missed it by a half-step,'' Allen said. ``That turns it from a sack, forced fumble to a touchdown. There was a couple times like that.''

For the guy who finished one sack shy of setting the single-season record a year ago, this season has been filled with close calls. Allen has just seven sacks this season and has gone three straight games without one, not the year he was hoping for when he talked about being the first player in league history to record two 20-sack seasons.

There are several reasons for the drop off, including falling behind early in games, which allows offenses to use short throws and maximum protections to keep the heat off their quarterbacks.

``If we can get a lead and force them to play from behind and take shots down field by being successful on first and second down, then you create some matchup things,'' Allen said. ``If not, it's going to be a tough road.''

But Frazier insists Allen is still having a major impact on the game even if he's not driving quarterbacks into the turf as often as he did last year.

``He's no different than any other competitor. He wants to help our football team win and sometimes sacks help that to happen,'' Frazier said. ``It is frustrating, but at the same time, he knows where we are as a team and whatever it takes to help us to win, that's what he wants to do.''

The Vikings (6-5) face a similar situation this week against the Packers (7-4), who have struggled to protect Aaron Rodgers just like the Bears had struggled to protect Cutler. Rodgers has been sacked more than any other quarterback in the league this season.

As the Vikings found out last week, some problems up front don't automatically mean a feeding frenzy for Allen, Brian Robison and the rest of Minnesota's accomplished defensive line.

``If you can get a lead when you've got a group of guys that can rush the passer, then you have a chance,'' Frazier said. ``But if it's a game that's in the balance or you're behind, it's hard to rush the passer.''

That said, the Vikings sure could use another big-time game from Allen against the Packers, a team he has tormented since joining the Vikings in 2008. Allen has sacked Rodgers 12 1/2 times, more than any other quarterback, including a monster 4 1/2-sack game in 2009.

``We need him to have a big game for us,'' Frazier said. ``He's a guy that garners so much attention when he's on the field. But it would be great to see one of those two- or three-sack games. But I've got a feeling they're going to do some things to try to keep that from happening.''

NOTES: WR Percy Harvin (ankle) did not practice on Thursday. Frazier said he would need to see progress during practice on Friday to feel good about dressing him against the Packers. ``It would be hard to put him out there in a game without seeing him run around a little bit more than what he did on Wednesday,'' Frazier said. " ... TE Kyle Rudolph (shoulder) practiced after missing Wednesday and Frazier said he is on track to play Sunday.


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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

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

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John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference after Game 4

John Tortorella has no answers, walks out of postgame press conference after Game 4

In each of the first three games of the series, the Columbus Blue Jackets always had an answer for the Washington Capitals.

The Caps built a two-goal lead in each game and Columbus was able to battle back and tie it each time.

In Game 4 on Thursday, however. the Blue Jackets had no answer in a 4-1 loss to Washington and that includes head coach John Tortorella.

"We weren't good," Tortorella said to the media after the game. "There's no sense asking me things about the game. I'm telling you, we laid an egg. I'm not going to break it down for you. We sucked. We sucked."

Tortorella is known for having some fiery interactions with the media. By his standard, Thursday's postgame presser was fairly tame.

The Capitals may have won Game 3, but Columbus certainly looked like the better team for most of the night. That was not the case in Game 4 as Washington dominated from start to finish. That led to the contentious postgame presser.

"We laid an egg," Tortorella said. "That's all I have to say, guys. I'm sorry, I'm not going to break it down for you. Nothing went well for us. It's on us, we have to figure it out and we will."

Reporters continued to press the head coach until he finally walked out.

Before you laugh too hard at this, it is important to consider that this may be a calculated move by Tortorella.

Sure, there have been times in which he has lost his temper in the past, but these outbursts may be more premeditated than we think.

Consider this. After their worst game of the series, a game in which the Blue Jackets only scored once and saw a 2-0 series lead evaporate in two games at home, we're talking about the head coach. We're not talking about the loss or the performance of the players. Instead, we are talking about Tortorella walking out on reporters.

Even if Tortorella was not willing to give any answers on Thursday, he will need to find some soon. The series now shifts back to Washington for Game 5 on Saturday with all the momentum on the Caps' side.