RG3, Redskins need win to stay close to Giants

RG3, Redskins need win to stay close to Giants

WASHINGTON (AP) The last time the New York Giants visited the Washington Redskins on a Monday night, the national television audience got to see coach Jim Zorn and the home team embarrass themselves with one of the silliest fake field goal attempts ever seen in the NFL, the everybody-run-to-one-side play that belongs in high school.

Zorn was fired a few weeks later.

A year earlier, those prime-time viewers watched Pittsburgh Steelers fans take over the Redskins stadium, waving yellow Terrible Towels in the lower bowl - right in front of owner Dan Snyder's box - in a 23-6 win.

The next time the Redskins hosted the Steelers, Snyder ordered that 50,000 white ``Redskins Rally towels'' be distributed among the fans to counter the Pittsburgh invasion.

Or go back to 2000, when Samari Rolle highlighted a 27-21 Tennessee Titans win by pulling off one of the best Monday night runbacks you'll ever see: 81 yards for a touchdown, every single yard precious because the clock had hit 0:00 to end the half.

The Redskins didn't make the playoffs that year, either, despite a high-priced roster that included Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith.

Snyder likes his team in the spotlight, but his largely unsuccessful 13 years as Redskins owner has been a Monday night wipeout. Washington has lost 10 straight home Monday night games, nine of them with Snyder as owner. The last win came in 1997, shortly after they moved into their new suburban stadium.

Now, at last, the Redskins have a leader suited for the big show. If anyone can end what tight end Chris Cooley jokingly referred to as ``the Monday night curse,'' it's rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

``It's nothing he can't handle,'' Cooley said. ``He's so grounded. He doesn't get in over his head.''

The stakes could hardly be bigger for this season's Redskins (5-6), who have climbed back into the playoff picture with back-to-back wins in which Griffin has thrown for eight touchdowns and a 146.1 rating.

Still standing in their way, however, are the defending Super Bowl champion Giants (7-4), who have carved themselves a nice lead in the NFC East.

``It's a game where we can put some space between us and the rest of the division and really be in a position to lock it up,'' said Giants receiver Victor Cruz, whose 77-yard touchdown catch was the game-winner when the teams met in the Meadowlands in October. ``Basically lock up our division with a win in Washington.''

Griffin has already proved himself impervious to pressure games, winning his NFL debut at New Orleans and leading the Redskins to the franchise's first Thanksgiving victory over the Cowboys. Now would not be the time to hit a rookie wall: A win Monday night pulls Washington within a game of first place; a loss turns its playoff hopes into something best calculated in an advanced mathematics class.

``A win Monday night can do a lot for us in the near-future - and in the distant future,'' said left tackle Trent Williams, who has known nothing but last-place finishes since the Redskins drafted him in 2010.

Both teams attributed recent bye weeks for regaining momentum after difficult stretches. The Redskins lost three straight before their week off and are 2-0 since. The Giants recharged the batteries after two bad losses, then came back to rout the Green Bay Packers last Sunday night.

That 38-10 win was a bit disheartening to the Redskins, who tuned in hoping the Giants would still be on the skids.

``I didn't like what I was seeing, so I turned away,'' Washington defensive tackle Barry Cofield said. ``Seeing them rolling like that and so excited, you don't want too much of that in your head. You don't want those good vibes.''


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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

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Road ahead suggests a wild finish in Eastern Conference playoff race

The Eastern Conference standings are so closely bunched as of today that the third-place Cleveland Cavaliers are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the sixth-place Philadelphia 76ers. With roughly a dozen games remaining for each NBA team, much can and likely will change over the next several weeks.

That is common for this time of the year, but a closer look suggests we could be in for some chaos in the final stretch. There are lopsided remaining schedules and impending personnel changes which could all contribute to one of the wildest regular season finishes in recent memory.

The Wizards are smack dab in the middle of the East playoff race and have their own circumstances to navigate. Let's take a team-by-team look at the middle of the Eastern Conference playoff picture, knowing the top two seeds are all but locked up by the Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics...


3. Cleveland Cavaliers (41-29, 12 games left)

Monday was a crazy day for the Cavaliers. First, they announced their head coach Tyronn Lue is taking a leave of absence to deal with an undiagnosed health issue. He will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim as he hopes to heal up before the playoffs.

Then, news broke they were getting Kevin Love back from a broken wrist after missing 21 games. Love returned to put up 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two blocks in a big win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

The Cavaliers will be without their coach for an undefined period of time, but now have their second-best player back on the court. That makes their final part of the season extra fascinating.

The Cavs are the team to watch of this group. Even though this season has been filled with turmoil, they still have LeBron James. He and Love have helped form the core of the last three Eastern Conference champion teams. If they pick things up, it's not crazy to consider them among the favorites to get out of the East again.


4. Indiana Pacers (41-30, 11 games left)

The Pacers are mostly healthy as they only feature a slew of minor injuries to big men Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. But Indiana's remaining schedule is unusually tough and it could make the difference in where they end up.

With only 11 games remaining, the Pacers still have to play the first-place Toronto Raptors once and the Golden State Warriors twice. Six of their last eight games will be on the road. They also see the Heat, Pelicans, Nuggets and Clippers.

The Clippers are currently ninth in the West and battling to make the playoffs. The Pacers will play them twice.

Keep in mind the Wizards own the season series over Indiana and will have a playoff seeding tiebreaker if they end up with the same record. Also worth noting is the Pacers have been much better at home (24-13) than on the road (17-17) this season.


5. Washington Wizards (40-30, 12 games left)

Though the Wizards' schedule is finally letting up soon from the 13 straight playoff teams stretch they have had to endure dating back to February, they too have a tough road ahead. The Wizards still have to play the Spurs (twice), Rockets, Cavaliers, Celtics and Nuggets. Four of their last six games are on the road and they have three back-to-back sets in their final seven games.

That's brutal. They may not have to see the defending champions twice like Indiana does, but the Wizards don't exactly have it easy.

The Wizards will, however, get John Wall back at some point. The five-time All-Star is slowly but surely working his way back and could participate in a full practice by the end of the week. Ideally they will get some games under his belt before the playoffs, but any time an All-NBA player is coming back to your team it's a good thing.

The problem is that there is little room for error in the standings and head coach Scott Brooks will have to reinsert Wall into the lineup during a tough schedule and while Wall is on a minutes restriction. It will be a tricky task to balance his lineups. 


6. Philadelphia 76ers (39-30, 13 games left)

The Sixers may have the most ideal road ahead of these four teams, at least in terms of their schedule. They still have the Timberwolves, Nuggets, Cavs and Bucks. But none of those teams are the juggernauts that Golden State, Houston and Toronto are. And of their final 13 games, the Sixers will play nine against teams outside of the playoff picture.

Philly also does not have to reincorporate a major piece into their rotation, like the Cavs do with Love and the Wizards with Wall. Their biggest injury is to Markelle Fultz, the 2017 No. 1 overall pick. If he does return this season, it will likely be in a minimal role, at least to start.

What could work against the Sixers is their inexperience and recent struggles against good teams. The Sixers are relying on very young players who have never been here before to carry the way. And since Valentine's Day, Philly has just one win against a team above the .500 mark, when they beat the Cavs on March 1. During those 14 games since Feb. 14, they have beaten up on the bad teams but lost to the Wizards, Bucks, Pacers and Heat (twice), basically all the teams surrounding them in the standings. 

Philly also lost their season series against the Cavs and Pacers, tied with the Wizards and are down 2-1 against the Bucks with one game to go. They may go to the finish line without a playoff tiebreaker against all the teams they would want one against.

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.