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Rodgers sharp, Packers beat Rams 30-20

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Rodgers sharp, Packers beat Rams 30-20

ST. LOUIS (AP) Aaron Rodgers never worried about topping himself. A second straight turnover-free performance on the road witnessed by thousands of cheeseheads was perfectly satisfying.

The Green Bay Packers' quarterback threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-20 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. A week earlier, the numbers were a lot gaudier when he tied the franchise record with six touchdown passes and no picks.

``It wasn't really on my mind,'' Rodgers said. ``My mind is usually focused on doing what I can do to put ourselves in a good situation. I'm expected to be consistent week in and week out.

``There's been times where that hasn't been the case, but I'm happy with the way the offense is progressing.''

Rodgers set a couple firsts anyway, reaching 150 touchdown passes with the fewest interceptions in NFL history. Rodgers has thrown 42 interceptions, beating the record set by Dan Marino with 150 TDs and 69 picks.

He hit 81.1 percent of his passes, going 30 for 37 to set a single-game franchise record with a minimum of 35 attempts. The Packers were a season-best 9 for 15 on third down conversions.

``We all know how great he is,'' Packers linebacker Dezman Moses said. ``I'm honored to be on the same team with him.

``He does it day in and day out, so it's not much of a surprise to the rest of the team. It's just what he does.''

Randall Cobb caught two touchdown passes and Jordy Nelson had eight receptions for a season-best 122 yards and a TD for the Packers (4-3), who handed the Rams (3-4) their first home loss. Rodgers was sacked three times in the first half, but got the ball out a lot quicker the rest of the way and was 30 for 37 for 342 yards.

``This was par for the course for them,'' Rams defensive end Chris Long said. ``They threw the ball around the yard.''

The Packers' depleted defense clamped down on Sam Bradford, too, allowing 342 yards, but limiting the damage. Rookie Casey Hayward made his first start in place of injured Sam Shields and intercepted his fourth pass in three games.

They wrapped up a three-game trip feeling like they were already home, thanks to a fan contingent that began to roared during pregame warm-ups. Rodgers noted that St. Louis was one of the closer trips, perhaps an eight-hour drive ``if you're busting the speed limit a little bit.''

``You never get tired of hearing `Go, Pack, Go!,' especially in St. Louis,'' coach Mike McCarthy said. ``I can't say enough about it. When opposing coaches are talking about keeping your fans out of the building, I think that says it all.

``So, thank you fans.''

The Packers, who were 15-1 last season, are above .500 for the first time after alternating losses and wins the first six weeks. A week earlier, they ended the Texans' unbeaten start.

Steven Jackson ran for his first touchdown of the year to trim the deficit to a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Rodgers responded with a 39-yard scoring pass to Cobb that put the Packers up by two scores with 3:06 remaining.

The Rams (3-4) limited opponents to 14.7 points their first three home games, beating the Redskins, Seahawks and Cardinals. They'll surrender home-field advantage next week when they travel to London to play the Patriots. The team flies out Monday night.

Chris Givens had a 56-yard reception for St. Louis on a screen pass in the fourth quarter, his fourth straight game with a 50-yard plus reception. Fellow rookie Greg Zuerlein kicked a 50-yard field goal.

Bradford was 21 for 34 for 255 yards and an interception, and was sacked three times behind a patchwork line with just two starters left from the opener. Bradford threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Austin Pettis with 3 seconds to go.

After dominating in time of possession in the first half, holding the ball for more than 18 minutes, the Rams ran just seven plays in the third quarter and were held to minus-7 yards while the Packers had 129 yards and 11:39 in time of possession.

``We came out cold in the third quarter, just didn't really get anything going,'' Bradford said. ``We've just got to do a better job of overcoming.''

Nelson wrapped up his second straight 100-yard game early in the third quarter, often picking on rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Cobb threw a nice fake on Jenkins in the end zone on a 5-yard catch that put the Packers up 17-6 midway through the third, capping a 12-play, 80-yard drive to open the half that lasted nearly seven minutes.

Zuerlein ended a string of three misses, the last a 66-yarder that had the distance but was wide left at the end of last week's 17-14 loss at Miami, with a 50-yarder that gave the Rams the early lead. Zuerlein is 5 for 7 from 50-plus.

NOTES: Packers DE Clay Matthews picked up his ninth sack in the third quarter when he chased down Bradford on a rollout. ... Hayward's four interceptions are the Packers' most by a rookie since Mike McKenzie had six in 1999. ... OG Shelley Smith made his first career start for the Rams ahead of Quinn Ojinnaka and OT Joe Barksdale made his first start with St. Louis in place of injured Wayne Hunter (back).

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Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 5 Capitals vs. Blue Jackets Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Alex Ovechkin said the Caps would return to Washington with a tied series. The Caps captain is a man of his word as the Caps won both Game 3 and Game 4 to even up the series at two games apiece.

John Tortorella had no answers after seeing his Columbus Blue Jackets fall in Game 4, but he will have to figure things out quickly as the series shifts back to Washington for a pivotal Game 5.

The Caps return home with two straight wins and all the momentum. There's just one problem: No one seemingly can win at home.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, Round 1, Game 5

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 3:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC.

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

The Capitals take on the Blue Jackets in Game 5 on Saturday, April 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET in Washington. The series is tied 2-2.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME ON?

Capitals-Blue Jackets, Game 5 will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 2:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 2:30 p.m. Tune back to NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 6:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

2:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
2:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
3:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Blue Jackets on NBC
5:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
6:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Capitals-Blue Jackets Game 5 is available to stream live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS GAME?

Here are the Caps' projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly- Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Jakub Vrana -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Scratches: Travis Boyd, Andre Burakovsky (upper-body), Shane Gerisch, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

SEE THE CAPITALS VS. BLUE JACKETS FULL SERIES SCHEDULE HERE

CAPITALS SCHEDULE

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Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Markieff Morris set tone for Wizards, who finally got back to 'Death Row mentality'

Perhaps Toronto and their fans would disagree, but through two games the first round playoff series between the Wizards and Raptors had been relatively uneventful, maybe even boring to the casual observer. For those who have watched the Wizards in recent years, something just seemed off with them.

Not only were Bradley Beal and Otto Porter struggling to score, but the energy and grit we're used to from the Wizards in the postseason just wasn't there. Three minutes into Game 3 on Friday night, that all changed.

Wizards forward Markieff Morris got tangled with Raptors rookie OG Anunoby and fell to the ground. He rose up, shoved Anunoby and gave Serge Ibaka a push for good measure. It cost Morris a technical, but he wasn't ejected. From there, the tone was set.

This was to be a physical game and the Wizards were going to make sure of it. That's how they prefer to play and that nastiness had been missing thus far in this series.

"I think OG [Anunoby] did not know the scouting report because he did not know that Keef is one of the people you do not mess with in this world," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He will learn.”

The fireworks didn't end there. Beal and Jonas Valanciunas got into it and so did John Wall and Anunoby, and then Wall and Ibaka.

The Wizards made a name for themselves in the 2016-17 season when they won 49 games and were one win away from the conference finals as a team that would instigate contact and talk trash. They prided themselves on being old school in that regard and were praised for it by former NBA tough guys like Paul Pierce and Stephen Jackson.

This season, they just haven't been able to do it as often.

"We have been there at spurts throughout the year, we just have not been there consistently," Oubre said. "Now it is do or die. We just need to bring that Death Row mentality.”

Oubre also joked that rapper Drake started it all by sitting courtside in Toronto and talking trash. Truthfully, their backs were against the wall and they had no choice but to punch back.

The Wizards entered Friday's game down 0-2 to the Raptors with Game 2 a dispirited blowout. If they went down 0-3, they would essentially have been dead in the water. No team has come back from that deficit in NBA history.

This time, they weren't going to go down without a fight.

"It sounds crazy, but sometimes we need that. The crazy part is that it's always [Morris]," center Marcin Gortat said. "If you see your teammate fighting, I'm going to fight with him. That's the bottom-line."

"We came out tonight with an edge about ourselves," Beal said. "Keef is a bully... we are physical team." 

As for Morris, the enforcer himself, he let his actions speak for themselves. He didn't take the bait on most questions, but did wear a 'Death Row D.C.' shirt during his media availability. Morris came up with that nickname last season to convey the toughness he wants the Wizards to play with.

"We need some physicality," Morris said. "I feel like when we were in Toronto, they were doing everything too freely. This kind of set the tone for the whole series... we need to keep our same mean mentality. If they wanna fight, we will fight."

The Wizards fought the Hawks and Celtics last year tooth-and-nail and often used physical play to their advantage. It worked in Game 3 against the Raptors. Now the Wizards will have to counter however Toronto chooses to respond.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

MUST-SEE MOMENTS FROM WILD GAME 3

BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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