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Patriots hold on to beat Jaguars 23-16

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Patriots hold on to beat Jaguars 23-16

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) If the New England Patriots need to accomplish anything before the postseason, it probably should be avoiding sluggish starts.

The AFC East champions had to rally from a double-digit deficit for the second consecutive week, recovering from an early hole and then holding off the woeful Jacksonville Jaguars 23-16 on Sunday.

Tom Brady threw two interceptions in the first quarter but bounced back with two touchdown passes to lead the come-from-behind victory.

``We came out flat and I think it showed out there,'' Patriots receiver Wes Welker said. ``We've got to do a better job of starting fast and doing what we do to take control of the game.''

A week after falling behind 31-3 against San Francisco and tying the game before losing 41-34, the Patriots (11-4) found themselves down 10-0 in Jacksonville.

But the Jaguars faded in the third quarter for the fourth consecutive week, lost for the 11th time in the last 12 games and set a franchise record for losses in a season.

Brady had a lot to do with Jacksonville's latest setback, finding his rhythm after a sluggish start and picking apart Jacksonville's defense.

He completed 24 of 41 passes for 267 yards, his worst outing in six games against the Jaguars. Welker caught 10 passes for 88 yards, passing Jerry Rice and Andre Johnson for the most 10-catch games (18) in NFL history. Stevan Ridley ran 18 times for 84 yards.

But the team's lethargic start got all the attention.

``They got off to that fast start and that kind of caught us by surprise,'' Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder said. ``I thought we played better as the game progressed. We've just got to avoid the slow starts and get the offense going right from the first quarter.''

Brady hooked up with Welker for a 2-yard score on the second play of the fourth quarter, putting the Patriots up 23-13. That seemed like plenty of cushion against the offensively challenged Jaguars. Jacksonville, though, had two decent chances to tie things in the closing minutes.

Trailing by a touchdown, the Jags faced third-and-goal at the 1 when tight end Zach Potter jumped before the snap. So the short-yardage situation became a passing play, and Chad Henne was sacked, leaving Jacksonville with a fourth-and-goal play at the 10.

Chandler Jones hit Henne as he tried to throw, and Patrick Chung intercepted the floater over the middle.

``It's a bad feeling, obviously,'' Potter said. ``It puts our team in a bad situation there. It's not the one play that cost us the game.''

Potter said he had trouble hearing the snap count because thousands of Patriots fans scoped up tickets and helped give Jacksonville its biggest home crowd since 2004.

``It was really loud, which you don't usually expect at home,'' Potter said.

Coach Mike Mularkey, though, blamed the officials for failing to recognize and penalize New England for yelling out cadence during a hard shift.

``That was disappointing because that was brought up to the officials before the game,'' Mularkey said. ``That was addressed. We practiced it. We practiced it the whole week with those guys shifting with the cadence. ... Obviously they didn't call it and we jumped. Very frustrating.''

Regardless, the Jaguars got the ball back after the Patriots failed to run out the clock.

Henne connected with Toney Clemons on fourth down with 22 seconds remaining and then Jordan Shipley for an 18-yard gain that put them at the New England 12. But Chung intercepted Henne's final pass, essentially a jump ball to the middle of the end zone.

``A win is a win, but we know we've got to play better no matter what,'' Patriots safety Devin McCourty said. ``It's better to come out here when you're not at your best and get a win. I think this team really understands it's all about us. We've got to play our best each week. It's disappointing knowing that we didn't play as good as we could.''

New England avoided consecutive losses in December for the first time since 2002.

The Pats got some help, too.

The Jaguars had the ball inside New England's 25 seven times, but came away with a touchdown and three field goals.

And not scoring touchdowns against the league's most prolific offense is hardly a formula for success.

``We had them on their heels for a while,'' Jaguars defensive end Jeremy Mincey said. ``They just capitalized, got a few interceptions and a few first downs on us. We held their scoring average down, which is good, and held them to a lot of field goals, which was excellent. It still wasn't enough.''

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Wizards have big questions to answer coming out of All-Star break

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Wizards have big questions to answer coming out of All-Star break

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes and Chris Miller look ahead to the biggest questions the Wizards need to answer after the All-Star break. They also explain why Bradley Beal proved a lot in his first All-Star Game appearance.

They also unveiled a new segment involving guessing Wizards players based on their social media captions.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' TOP PROSPECTS

Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.