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Seattle gets tested, holds off Rams 20-13

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Seattle gets tested, holds off Rams 20-13

SEATTLE (AP) Fueled by their frenzied fans, the Seattle Seahawks closed out a perfect run at home.

Hope they enjoyed it. Unless the NFC playoffs get thrown for a loop, the Seahawks won't be back until next season. Then again, with the roll the Seahawks are on, it's not inconceivable that somehow the breaks fall in their favor and they get one more home game.

``I'm really proud. I'm proud of the organization, I'm proud of the fans, I'm proud to be part of the movement that we made in the three years that we've been here,'' Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. ``Eleven-and-5 is a good season, that's a big season when you're coaching in the NFL and playing in the NFL.''

Russell Wilson tied Peyton Manning's record for most touchdown passes by a rookie with 26, and his 1-yard TD run with 1:39 left gave Seattle a 20-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday and an 8-0 home mark for the Seahawks.

Seattle (11-5) had hopes of winning the NFC West entering the day, but needed Arizona to pull off a stunning upset of San Francisco. For a while, it looked plausible with Arizona holding an early 6-0 lead and trailing just 7-6 at halftime. But San Francisco pulled away in the third quarter and with it went Seattle's hopes of being any more than just the No. 5 seed with a road trip for the first round of the playoffs.

Seattle will travel to Washington for the first round of the playoffs next Sunday.

``I'm so excited, I'm ecstatic. It's a great opportunity,'' Wilson said. ``We've got 11 wins so far in the regular season, and now the whole season starts over. The mindset doesn't change, though. Go 1 and 0 every week. Continue to compete throughout the week.''

Wilson capped his remarkable first regular season by joining Manning in the NFL record books. And that was before he led the Seahawks on a fourth game-winning drive in the final minutes of regulation or overtime this season.

Wilson finished 15 of 19 for 250 yards and his 10-yard touchdown pass to Michael Robinson in the third quarter pulled him even with Manning for the rookie TD record. He added another 58 yards rushing, while Marshawn Lynch finished with 100 yards on 18 carries, his 10th game of the season reaching the century mark. Golden Tate had three catches for 105 yards.

Once again, Wilson found a way in the fourth quarter. Starting at his 10 with 5:11 left, Wilson took Seattle 90 yards in 10 plays. After Tate recovered a fumble by Lynch on the second play of the drive, Wilson found Tate for 44 yards, racing to the St. Louis 29, putting the Seahawks in prime position to close out a perfect home record.

Wilson was given the shot at the rookie TD record by himself on second-and-goal from the 1. All his receivers were covered, and Wilson was left to scramble in for his fourth rushing touchdown of the season and another game-winning drive.

``He deserved a chance to try to get it. We needed to get in the end zone one way or another,'' Carroll said. ``We thought it would be an easy way to get in, but they covered it, they did a nice job. So, he scrambled his way in.''

Wilson's numbers when compared with Manning's record-setting 1998 season are startling. Manning had 182 more pass attempts than Wilson and threw 28 interceptions compared to Wilson's 10. Still, Manning didn't have the complement of players around him that Wilson does in Seattle.

``The football team has really sparked throughout the whole entire season, the coaching staff has done a really great job of preparing me and it's a whole team effort,'' Wilson said.

St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford tried to put together a final drive, converting one fourth down and getting to the Seattle 29 with 40 seconds left. But on fourth-and-10, Bradford forced his throw and Richard Sherman stepped in front for his eighth interception of the season. Wilson took a knee and Seattle headed for the playoffs winners of five straight and seven of eight the second-half of the season.

The interception capped a perfect week for Sherman, who won his appeal of a four-game suspension for using banned substances and will be available in the playoffs.

``I think we needed this test heading into the playoffs to help us know how it's going to feel in the playoffs, to know it's going to be a grind every week, it's going to be tough opponents every week, and it's only going to get tougher,'' Sherman said.

Bradford was 25 of 42 for 242 yards and a touchdown pass to Austin Pettis. Greg Zuerlein kicked field goals of 25 and 39 yards. Steven Jackson also went over 1,000 yards rushing for the eighth straight season, becoming just the sixth player in NFL history to accomplish that feat.

The Rams were trying to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2003. Still it was a noteworthy turnaround Jeff Fisher put together in his first season with the Rams, going from 2-14 to the verge of a winning season.

``I'm very, very proud of the professional approach that the guys took, not only all year, but this year in preparation and understanding that this is a difficult place to play, understanding what we needed to do to win the game,'' Fisher said. ``I'm disappointed that we fell short, but it was a tremendous effort by our guys and they have nothing to be disappointed about.''

NOTES: Lynch finished with 1,590 yards rushing, the third-highest total in Seahawks history. ... Seattle led the NFL in scoring defense at 15.3 per game. ... St. Louis tied a franchise record with 52 sacks, including six on Sunday. Chris Long had three sacks.

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Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

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USA TODAY Sports

Tarik's 3 stars: Caps come up empty on an emotional night in Florida

Vincent Trocheck scored on the power play with 18.7 seconds remaining and the Panthers escaped with a 3-2 victory on an emotional night in Sunrise, Fla.

Trocheck’s goal was Florida’s second in the final four minutes…and the Caps were left to lament yet another incomplete performance. Washington has now lost three of its last four games and fell to 4-5-2 in February.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Vincent Trocheck, Panthers

Trocheck did what Trocheck does in the third period: The Florida forward scored a clutch goal in the final seconds, redirecting a Jonathan Huberdeau shot through Brooks Orpik’s legs and past Braden Holtby. Eller was in the penalty box when Trocheck scored his 13th third period goal of the season.

2-Andre Burakovsky, Capitals

After losing a goal to Eller in the first period, Burakovsky made sure he didn’t go home empty handed. No. 65 scored on the power play in the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1. It was Burakovsky’s third goal in six games. He also earned a secondary assist on Eller’s redirection score.   

3-Braden Holtby, Capitals

Following a handful of un-Holtby-like performances lately, Holtbeast roared Thursday night at BB&T Center. He made at least one game-saving stop in each period: an arm save on Trocheck in the first period; a pad stop on Denis Malgin in the second and another extended pad stop on Evgenii Dadonov in the third. Holtby finished with 30 stops.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Wizards take out Cavs on road to continue impressive run after All-Star break

Wizards take out Cavs on road to continue impressive run after All-Star break

The Washington Wizards beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-103 on Thursday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Wizards keep it rolling: Even a week off for the All-Star break couldn't slow the Wizards' roll. 

Though they started a bit slow in the first quarter, the Wizards picked up right where they left off with an impressive win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, a team many feel improved significantly at the trade deadline.

The Cavs have some newfound confidence, but the result on Thursday was another notch on the Wizards' belt. They moved to 8-2 since John Wall got injured and to 34-24 on the season overall, 10 games above .500 for the first time in 2017-18.

Beating the Cavs was a great sign for the Wizards who are just beginning an extremely difficult part of their schedule. Of their next 16 games, 14 will be against teams currently slated to be in the playoffs. A win at Cleveland bodes well with matchups against the Warriors, Celtics and Raptors on the horizon.

Since Wall got injured, the Wizards have taken out the Cavs, Thunder and Raptors. They keep proving they can compete with anyone even without their All-Star point guard.

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Satoransky continues to thrive: More and more teams are learning what Tomas Satoransky is capable of. The second-year pro had another gem of a game with 17 points (6-for-7 FG), eight assists, four rebounds, two steals and zero turnovers.

The Cavs added a lot of athleticism to their backcourt at the trade deadline, but it was nothing to Satoransky. He even made easy work of George Hill, an experienced and physical perimeter defender.

Satoransky also proved a much more even match for Jordan Clarkson, who was giving Tim Frazier fits before the Wizards went away from him in favor of Satoransky and Bradley Beal (18 points, nine assists) running point.

Satoransky and Beal helped lead another well-rounded effort for the Wizards offensively. They had 29 assists and five guys reached double figures. 

When Wall comes back, Satoransky will slide back to the bench as the primary backup point guard. He will still be part of the rotation, but games like this beg the question of whether his role should expand into something larger.

Given Wall plays so much, it will require Satoransky to start producing as a backup shooting guard or small forward. There are reasons to believe he's ready for those responsibilities. He can spread the floor with a consistent three-point shot and has made some nice plays off the ball in the fastbreak. He doesn't need to be the primary ball-handler to produce on offense, he just needs to gain some confidence in doing it.

Oubre was much better: The last few weeks leading up to the All-Star break were tough for Kelly Oubre, Jr. In his last 11 games entering Thursday night, Oubre was averaging just 9.4 points while shooting 31.2 percent. He was looking for a breakthrough and he got one against the Cavs.

After beginning the game 2-for-6 from the field, Oubre got hot in the second quarter and had 12 points by halftime. He went scoreless in the third quarter, but hits some big shots in the fourth to end up with 17 points. He also had five rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Oubre's second quarter surge helped turn the game around. The Wizards had trailed by as much as 11 points and were shooting just 37 percent at the end of the first quarter. Oubre hit a pair of threes in the second including one to give the Wizards a lead with just over two minutes to go in the half.

Oubre has been contributing in ways other than scoring lately, but the Wizards can certainly use more from him on offense. The Wizards' bench can be limited offensively and everything opens up when his three is falling consistently.

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New-look Cavs: The Wizards took some shine off what many have praised as a rejuvenated Cavaliers team following the trade deadline. Cleveland overhauled their roster and had won three games since. But the Wizards stopped that streak and did so by holding a lot of the Cavs' players in check.

LeBron James had a big night per usual with 32 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and two steals. But many others were stymied including Hill (six points, 2-for-10 FG), Rodney Hood (eight points), Clarkson (nine points), Larry Nance, Jr. (six points) and Jeff Green (five points), who happens to have hurt the Wizards on numerous occasions recently.

How the Wizards would match up with the revamped Cavs was particularly interesting because the old Cleveland crew beat the Wizards twice earlier this season. Of all the teams in the East, the Wizards seemed to match up worse with the Cavs than anyone. It was only one game, but the Wizards looked much better against this version of the Cavs than they did against the previous group.

Up next: The Wizards return home to play the second game of a back-to-back. They host the Charlotte Hornets with a 7 p.m. tipoff on NBC Sports Washington.

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