Ravens demolish the Raiders


Ravens demolish the Raiders

Ravens 55, Raiders 20

M&T Bank Stadium -- Now this is the explosive offense that has largely been absent for nine weeks.

The Ravens posted a franchise-high in points as quarterback Joe Flacco came alive for his first 300-yard game passing since Week 4 and the Ravens’ most comprehensive showing since a 44-13 win in the season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Seemingly everyone got in on the action. Torrey Smith’s only two catches were for scores, Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 105 yards for a score, LB Brendon Ayanbadejo got a fumble recover on special teams, LB Albert McClellan grabbed one on defense, LB Paul Kruger got an interception and holder Sam Koch scored a touchdown on a fake field goal.

It was the Ravens' 15th consecutive home win, an NFL-best, and Flacco improved to 33-5 at M&T.The Ravens got off to a fast start for the second game in a row but unlike last week at the Cleveland Browns, when they went without a first down in the second and third quarters, they dominated throughout in a game that never was competitive.

With a huge AFC North game vs. Pittsburgh Steelers next weekend, the question remains: Can the Ravens ever play with this confidence and efficiency on the road?

Player of the game: Flacco. He threw 21-for-33 for 341 yards, three touchdowns, a one-yard touchdown run and a 115.8 rating.

Turning point: On their second series of the second quarter, Flacco rebounded from his only interception to complete key passes to little-used Jones and Ed Dickson and rediscovered Dennis Pitta on a 5-yard toss to push the lead to 17-3.

Special delivery: Jones’ 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter set a franchise record for most points in a game at 55, surpassing the previous mark of 48. Jones also became the first Raven with two kickoff returns for a score in a single season. He had one from 108 yards in a 31-29 home win against the Dallas Cowboys.

Tip drill: Maybe the Ravens learned something from their 30-point loss to the Houston Texans as they were swatting Carson Palmer’s attempts successfully. LB Terrell Suggs altered two passes, one in the red zone that likely stopped a touchdown, and another in the second quarter. Kruger timed Palmer perfectly, swatting his pass attempt to WR Derek Hagan and intercepting in the Raiders territory in the second quarter. It was the second of Kruger’s career, with his previous one coming as a rookie in 2009. Rookies LB Courtney Upshaw and DE DeAngelo Tyson got in on the action with two tipped passes.

Can’t wrap up: Ed Reed’s injured right shoulder (torn cartilage) finally proved costly to Baltimore. He had Darrius Heyward-Bey in front of him and dealt out a solid hit on the catch, but the receiver bounced off and went 55 yards for Oakland’s only touchdown of the first half. Reed was slow to get up and surprisingly continued to play into the third quarter before giving way to James Ihedigbo.

Well-received: Harbaugh wanted Jones and Tandon Doss to get more involved in the offense. They didn’t get a lot of looks, but when they did they made them count. Jones had two catches for 54 yards and a six-yard gain on a handoff. His reception of 47 yards put the Ravens in Oakland’s territory to go up 17-3. Doss didn’t have a catch in the first half, but he had a 26-yard grab over the middle in the third quarter to Oakland’s 12 as the Ravens would go ahead 47-20 on Koch’s run.

Lineup shuffles: Some unfamiliar faces were in early. By the second quarter, Jah Reid was playing at left guard instead of Bobbie Williams, who started the game. Tyson, who didn’t play a snap in the first six games of the season, started while Haloti Ngata (shoulder) didn’t play. Bryan Hall came in on a crucial third-and-goal call as the Ravens held, forcing Palmer into an incompletion as they settled for a field goal.

Self-destruction: A 15-yard penalty Aaron Curry, hitting Jones after he was tackled on the kickoff, gave the Ravens a short field at their own 37. That drive led to a TD. Near midfield, the Raiders were sent backwards on a hold by RG Mike Brisiel and on an obvious passing down Palmer was picked off. In the third quarter, they had two defensive penalties that was capped by Koch’s TD run on the fake FG.  The Ravens’ most glaring penalty came on a 13-yard run by Bernard Pierce. A holding call on RT Kelechi Osemele erased that and on the next play, Flacco’s deflected pass was intercepted by Michael Huff to set up Oakland’s first score.

Chucking it: Palmer threw it 61 times last week, and he’s only threw fewer than 33 passes once this season. He tested a rebuilt Ravens secondary that didn’t have Jimmy Smith (groin), who replaced Lardarius Webb (knee ligament tear), with 45 throws for 368 yards.


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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency


In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries. 

Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday. 

"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."

Williams' words were true, and telling. 

First the true part:

  • In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.

Now the telling part:

  • The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure. 

That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.

That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent. 

"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said. 

Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018. 

When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.

"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."


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How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

Things did not look good for the Capitals after two games.

Facing a 0-2 series hole after losing both games in Washington, it looked like it could be an early summer. The Caps were going to be the first team to ever lose a series in the playoffs to the Columbus Blue Jackets.


But the Caps rallied.

Washington won the next four games and turned what looked like it would be another postseason disaster into a postseason triumph.

Only once in franchise history had the Caps rallied from a 0-2 deficit and only once had the Caps won four straight games to win a series. They managed both against the Blue Jackets.

Here's how the Caps were able to rally to a first-round victory over Columbus.