Manning says right thumb sore but OK


Manning says right thumb sore but OK

DENVER (AP) Peyton Manning's right thumbnail was covered with white tape and put under a media microscope upon his return to the football field Wednesday.

The tape didn't wrap all the way around his thumb, leaving him able to grip the football like normal, and teammates said his throws and hand-offs at practice were unaffected by his injury in his first action since smacking his throwing hand on a defender's helmet Sunday night.

For the first time, Denver coach John Fox listed his quarterback on the team's injury report - ``Peyton Manning, right thumb, full'' - but said he noticed no lingering effects.

Manning, who threw two second-half touchdowns in Denver's 34-14 win over New Orleans after getting hurt just before halftime, said after practice that his thumb was ``sore, but it's more of an irritant than anything else.''

Manning gets all this scrutiny.

After all, he missed all of last season in Indianapolis with a nerve injury in his neck and now plays in a city that 24 years ago argued about the quality of Halloween candy handed out to trick-or-treaters by a young John Elway.

Now, the discolored right thumbnail on the four-time MVP who's playing like he's hungry for a fifth is certainly a big deal in media circles, both traditional and social.

Manning acknowledged he was ``probably a little bit lucky'' that he banged the nail and not the knuckle of his right thumb on New Orleans defensive end Martez Wilson's helmet just before absorbing his only hit of the night.

Another half-inch, and all bets would have been off for the rolling Broncos (4-3), who lead the AFC West, are finally hitting their stride behind Manning's spectacular play and steady leadership and look every bit like a team ready to take off.

Another half-inch and this is rookie Brock Osweiler's offense. Or Caleb Hanie's.

``They say it's a game of inches,'' wide receiver Eric Decker said. ``Maybe it's a game of centimeters.''

The league's leading passer at age 36, Manning is playing better than anyone - the Broncos and their quarterback included - could have hoped for over the season's first two months.

``Well, certainly, it was a lot of unknown before this season,'' Manning said. ``I think there still is. This is a new team and nobody knew how this team would form chemistry-wise. I didn't know what my situation would be. I mentioned early on that I'm feeling my way out. We're finding out our identity. I think we are still doing that. I think we have it in some places.''

Even though they're not all the way there yet, Elway, the Broncos' vice president of football operations, said during his weekly podcast on the team's website that Denver is coming off its ``most complete game of the year.''

``We thought it was going to be a track meet and we'd really have to keep up with them,'' Elway said. ``The compliment goes to (defensive coordinator) Jack Del Rio, his staff and the defensive players. They really answered the bell.''

Drew Brees was limited to 137 yards through the air until the Saints' final drive, when he threw for 76 yards with several Broncos backups in the game.

Weakside linebacker Wesley Woodyard, an undrafted fifth-year pro from Kentucky, won AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors Wednesday for a monster game that included 13 tackles (9 solo), a sack, an interception, two pass breakups and a forced fumble - exceeding or matching his career high in every category.

Despite losing linebacker Joe Mays (broken leg), the Broncos could get cornerback Tracy Porter back this week. He's missed the last two games after experiencing light-headedness and a racing heart - the same symptoms he had before suffering a seizure during training camp.

He returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday and said he hopes to play Sunday at Cincinnati: ``It's a matter of me getting my conditioning back, getting my legs back up under me,'' Porter said. ``As far as seizure-wise, I don't have any problem.''

The last time the Broncos visited the Bengals (3-4), Brandon Stokley's 87-yard ``Immaculate Deflection'' touchdown catch on a batted pass with 11 seconds left gave Denver a farfetched 12-7 win in the 2009 opener.

``Brandon runs through my mind all the time,'' Bengals coach Marvin Lewis lamented during a conference call with Denver reporters. ``But I wish we had more guys here that were on that team. I think we have about seven guys that were actually in that game.''

Believe it or not, Stokley also has had bad dreams about that play in which he cradled cornerback Leon Hall's deflection at midfield and raced untouched into the end zone - but not before he headily took an extra couple of precious seconds off the clock by running along the goal line before stepping across for the score.

``I just kind of saw that nobody was behind me chasing me. I saw a guy kind of give up on it. I knew there wasn't a lot of time left, so I thought, why not try to run some time off?'' Stokley said. ``And then the next day, I kind of started having nightmares about it. What if I'd have gotten caught? What if I had fumbled? What if somebody would have hit me?

``I think next time I'll probably just get in the end zone.''

Notes: Manning said that ``being from New Orleans, knowing firsthand what hurricanes can do,'' his thoughts were with the victims of superstorm Sandy. ... Woodyard is one of just nine players to record double-digit tackles, a sack, an interception and a forced fumble in a game since sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1982. ... Sunday's game at Cincinnati snaps a streak of 12 straight games in which the Broncos drew the networks' top broadcast team, first because of Tim Tebow and then because of Manning.


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5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

5 must-see moments from Wizards' important win over Pacers, including Kelly Oubre's big dunk

Here are five plays or moments from the Wizards' 109-102 win over the Pacers on Saturday night that are worth revisiting... 

1. The Wizards took care of business against the Pacers on Saturday night and in doing so earned an important advantage in the playoff race. They won the season series and therefore own a tiebreaker for playoff seeding and currently that would mean home court advantage in the first round if the playoffs began today.

The Wizards took control early and part of that effort were five first-half assists by Bradley Beal. He ended up with 19 points, but some of his best plays were passes.

On this one, he executed a perfect pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat:


2. This was another pretty pass to Gortat. Tomas Satoransky, who had 12 points and eight assists, fed Gortat with a nice reach-around pass on a play that featured some impressive ball movement overall:

3. This was a great moment. The Wizards had a member of the military surprise his niece on the court. She literally did not see it coming:


4. These last two plays are dunks by Kelly Oubre, Jr., who finished with 16 points. On this play, he cut through the and threw down with authority:

5. This dunk was set up by a beautiful pass from Ramon Sessions. It traveled about three-quarters of the court and Oubre did the rest:

The Wizards now have three days off before their next game as they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference. Things are trending positive for the Wizards as the playoff race heats up.

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Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

Wizards take out Pacers to earn important advantage in playoff seeding

The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 109-102 on Saturday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Important victory: Saturday night's game between the Wizards and Pacers had several layers of playoff implications on the line and it was Washington who rose to the occasion and showed the urgency commensurate for the stakes.

By beating the Pacers, the Wizards locked up the season series between the teams, two games to one. That gives them the tiebreaker for playoff seeding if the teams finish the regular season with the same record. That could very well prove paramount. As of now, the Wizards and Pacers have the same record (40-30) with 12 games to go.

The season series advantage means the Wizards are above the Pacers in the standings despite having the same record. They moved into fourth place in the East with the win and the Cavs slotted back into third. There will likely be a lot more movement as these next few weeks play out, but the Wizards now hold an important edge over the Pacers.

The win also pushed the Wizards to 14-8 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. Wall could return this coming week or the week after and the Wizards have more than stayed afloat during his absence.

The Wizards' magic number to make the playoffs is now just five. 


Sato went off: The Wizards jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter mostly thanks to a hot start from Tomas Satoransky, who scored the Wizards' first five points and had 10 by the end of the first quarter.

Satoransky's floater was automatic. He dropped in several in the lane from all different angles. Satoransky was practicing the same shots, floaters off each foot, the day before in practice and it paid off.

It was a well-rounded night for Satoransky. In addition to his 12 points, he also had eight assists and five rebounds, including this one to find Marcin Gortat for the dunk:

Gortat came up big: Speaking of Gortat, the Wizards' big man had one of his best games of the season. He poured in 18 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists a steal and a block. Gortat shot 6-for-8, consistently having his way on the block.

The Pacers were without two of their best big men in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis and Gortat took advantage of that. He was way too much for Al Jefferson.

The Pacers tried to roll with small-ball lineups using Trevor Booker and Thaddeus Young as their big men, but it didn't work. Gortat was too big for them and his teammates did a great job finding him for open looks.

Gortat's 18 points were his most since Jan. 3 when he had a season-high 21 against the Knicks. Lately, Gortat has seen his minutes dwindle with the increased role for Ian Mahinmi, so Saturday night must have felt good for the Polish Machine.


Bojan held in check: Bojan Bogdanovic, who spent part of last season with the Wizards, was a major factor in the first two matchups between Washington and the Pacers this season. He had 20 points in one game and 29 in another, each time getting hot from three.

The Wizards, though, made some adjustments in this one and held Bo Buckets in check. He didn't make his first shot until nearly the midway point of the second quarter and it was only because Kelly Oubre, Jr. (16 points, 18 minutes) lost his balance. Oubre stumbled backward, giving Bogdanovic a split second to get off an open three. That was the only shot he hit in the first half as he began the game 1-for-4.

Oubre did a good job harrassing Bogdanovic and not giving him space on the premiter. Otto Porter (eight points) and Bradley Beal (19 points) did as well. Both Porter and Beal stripped the ball out of Bogdanovic's hands early in the third quarter. Midway through the third, Bogdanovic got past Porter only to be called for an offensive foul on a collision with Gortat. All in all, it was a frustrating night for Bogdanovic, who had 11 points, three below his season average.

Bogdanovic is a very good shooter and when he's hot can alter games. But when you take his shots away, there's not much else he can do to hurt you. The Wizards did a good job taking away his strengths and making others beat them. Not having to focus on Turner and Sabonis certainly helped. 

Sessions is still in the rotation: It turns out those five games for Ramon Sessions over the course of his second 10-day contract weren't just an audition. Now that he has been signed for the rest of the season, Sessions is still getting the nod over Tim Frazier as the backup point guard.

Sessions logged 18 minutes and even played alongside Satoransky and Jodie Meeks in the fourth quarter. The Wizards had a sizable lead and head coach Scott Brooks decided to experiment with his lineups. That is something to keep in mind for when Wall comes back. Once he does, Sessions will be the third point guard and likely rarely see the court. But if they see something they like about him at shooting guard, that could open the door for more playing time possibilities.

Up next: The Wizards have three off-days before their next game. That will be on Wednesday when they head to San Antonio to face the Spurs. Tipoff is at 9:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Pregame coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

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