Manning & Miller lead Broncos to 10th straight win


Manning & Miller lead Broncos to 10th straight win

DENVER (AP) Von Miller's day was memorable because Peyton Manning was so masterful.

Manning threw for a season-high 339 yards and three touchdowns, two of them frozen ropes into impossibly tight windows, and Denver's defense had a half-dozen sacks, all in the second half of the Broncos' 34-12 rout of the injury-riddled Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

With their 10th straight win, the Broncos (12-3) moved into a first-place tie in the AFC standings with the Houston Texans.

``There really was a mindset today to get touchdowns and not have to settle for field goals,'' said Manning, whose 72nd game with at least three TD throws tied Brett Favre's record. ``I really think that was a factor in Cleveland's play calling. Now they have to throw more and allow Von and Elvis to kind of pin their ears back.''

Miller was in on two of the sacks, the second of which gave him the single season franchise record 17 1/2.

``Individual accomplishments are great, but I think it says a lot about the defense that we play here,'' said Miller, whose record-breaker also knocked quarterback Brandon Weeden out of the game with an injury to his right shoulder and brought in Colt McCoy, who was sacked four times.

The Browns also lost rookie running back Trent Richardson to a left ankle injury in the final minute of the blowout while he was in the game pass blocking instead of taking handoffs to run out the clock.

Browns cornerback Shelton Brown left the game with a concussion after allowing TD throws to Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker despite being draped all over the Broncos' pair of big wide receivers.

``He has amazing coverage,'' Browns defensive back Joe Haden said. ``They just put it in the one spot he couldn't get. I mean, it looked like he touched the ball on both of them.''

The Browns won the coin toss but deferred and Manning made them pay with a 22-yard TD toss to Thomas, then a 10-yarder to Decker that made it 14-3 after two possessions. Both were thrown in leaping range of the receiver where only he could catch it.

``People call that the Dwight Clark throw,'' Manning said of the iconic Joe Montana-to-Dwight Clark touchdown that won the 1981 NFC title game for San Francisco. ``It's our ball or nobody's ball, but because of their height and their ability to jump you can make that throw.''

Brown, who later got hurt when he ran into Brandon Stokley on a crossing route, had blanket-tight coverage on both balls.

``I feel like that demoralizes a defense,'' said Thomas.

Cleveland (5-10) lost its second straight after winning three in a row, and afterward, Joshua Cribbs, whose 62-yard punt return was negated by a penalty, tweeted his dissatisfaction with fans critical of yet another season with double digit losses.

Cribbs tweeted, ``I See all the negativity on twitter after I gave my life to this .... . So 2 all u who are against me ... . all y'all! I'm still gonna do me!'' Cribbs, set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, later deleted the post.

The Broncos had their own issues, including a season-high 11 penalties, an interception that Manning threw in the end zone and two bobbled returns.

Imperfections like that have helped the Broncos stay remarkably focused on next week - in this case, a regular-season finale against Kansas City (2-13) - instead of a playoff road that seemingly looks easier after every win. This week, it was Houston falling at home, 23-6 to Minnesota, dropping the Texans into a tie for the first spot in the AFC. Houston holds the tiebreaker against Denver, but has a much tougher game - at Indianapolis (10-5).

``I mean, we're fans of football, so obviously we see it,'' cornerback Champ Bailey said. ``But it doesn't distract us or get us off of what our mission is and that's just to get better every week and win games.''

Miller's 1 1/2 sacks gave him 17 1/2 for the season, topping Elvis Dumervil's franchise record by 1/2.

``He's like my younger brother. If there's any guy who deserves it, it's him,'' Dumervil said. ``He's been working hard since he came into the league. He makes my job easier. So between him and Peyton and Champ, those are my favorite guys as far as Champ covering, Peyton sitting on the sideline for more rest and obviously Von getting pressure on the other side.''

Denver put this game away during an eight-minute stretch in the third quarter after Cleveland cut its deficit to 14-6.

Manning led a 91-yard touchdown drive, highlighted when he threw a dart that slammed off Decker's hands and dropped into Stokley's. Two plays later, Manning hit Decker for an 8-yard touchdown, and three plays after that, Miller knocked Weeden out of the game.

``Von is a special talent,'' Bailey said. ``You always have to know where he is. And when you find out where he is, here comes the other guy.''


Manning, who completed 30 of 43 passes, played with an orange glove on his throwing hand, something he might have to use in more frosty weather if the road to the Super Bowl ends up going through the Rocky Mountains next month.

``I've messed with it throughout my career,'' Manning said. ``I've been practicing in it these past few weeks. Felt like I was pretty accurate most of the day.''

NOTES: Although Manning was 5-0 against Cleveland before Sunday, he had thrown just two TD passes and six interceptions with a passer rating of 74.2. This time, he had a QB rating of 106.6. ... Broncos CB Tracy Porter left with a concussion after playing just three snaps in his first game since Oct. 7. ... Broncos S Mike Adams had four solo tackles and a game-high four pass breakups against his former team. ... Richardson has 950 yards rushing, surpassing Jim Brown for the franchise rookie record. ... Denver KR Trindon Holliday sprained an ankle.


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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?


Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by guest co-host Travis Thomas to break down Bradley Beal's All-NBA chances and John Wall's injury rehab.

They also discussed the crazy Eastern Conference playoff race, Trae Young's draft stock and essentials for a good snow day.

You can listen to the episode right here:

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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings