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Steelers-Giants provide relief in Sandy aftermath

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Steelers-Giants provide relief in Sandy aftermath

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants gave a region left reeling by Superstorm Sandy just what it needed after days of dealing with devastation, power outages, no heat and long gas lines.

For a few hours Sunday, people in the New York metro area could watch two good football teams play a hard-fought game. It was chance to cheer and yell and scream and forget about the past six days.

The Steelers' 24-20 victory probably didn't please the majority of fans at MetLife Stadium, but this game was about more than football. It was about life and helping people cope with it.

It was sports at its best.

``There are so many bigger things going on around here that what we do is not as important as real life,'' Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said after throwing for two touchdowns. ``My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone else who are going through so much. There were so many emotions going on, I didn't know what to expect from it. But maybe we were able to take their minds off their problems just a little.''

The Giants (6-3) had come into the game hoping to use it as a platform to raise the spirits of the millions of people in New York and New Jersey who lost their homes, been displaced and had a lifetime of dreams shattered by the worst storm to hit the area in decades.

For three quarters they gave them hope, building a 20-10 lead on the play of its defense, highlighted by a 70-yard fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Michael Boley.

The Steelers (5-3), however, dominated the final quarter. A 51-yard pass and run by Mike Wallace got them within a field goal and Issac Redman capped a career-best 147-yard rushing performance with a game-winning 1-yard touchdown run with 4:02 to go.

New York's final attempt to win one for the region ended with a three-and-out, and the Steelers ran out the clock.

``We had a lot riding on the game,'' Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck said. ``Everybody knows what has taken place this past week in this area. A lot of us have been affected ourselves. We wanted to come out and give this region a reason to put some smiles on people's faces. That's frustrating in itself and knowing you had the opportunity to beat a great football team at home, and let that slip through your hands.

``We've been a team known for finishing and when we take the lead into the fourth quarter and we don't sustain that, that's frustrating,'' Tuck added. ``That's not us. We have to look at this thing tomorrow and come back next week and try to get to 7-3.''

The Steelers had a lot to do with the Giants problems. Their defense limited Eli Manning to 125 yard passing, held the running game to 68 yards and did not allow New York to gain a first down in the final quarter.

Pittsburgh accomplished that despite traveling to New Jersey on Sunday - with the league's blessing - so those displaced by the storm would not be kicked out of their rooms.

Outside, folks tailgated and tried to blunt some of the devastation from the week's superstorm. As Giants fan Courtney Davis, whose town of Sea Bright was washed away by Hurricane Sandy, said in response to holding the game: ``We need this.''

``Coming in the day of the game was tough and we had to deal with that adversity,'' Redman said. ``But the Giants had to deal with adversity all week. We just had to come in here and be ready to play.

When Pittsburgh came on relentlessly, the one-quarter of the 80,991 seats occupied by Terrible Towel-waving Steelers faithful could celebrate an impressive comeback victory, coach Mike Tomlin's 60th win.

``''We didn't talk much about the travel,'' Tomlin insisted, although Roethlisberger said teammates were in the hallways of the hotel sleeping after morning meetings.

``This is a game,'' Tomlin added. ``What happened here is life and reality.''

Giants coach Tom Coughlin called the loss as disappointing as any in recent years.

``Not to be overly reactionary or emotional, to play against a very good football team like that ... we wanted emotionally to win the game so badly for obvious reasons, for our neighbors who are struggling, who needed some type of inspiration and we didn't provide it,'' Coughlin said.

The Steelers weren't perfect. Roethlisberger's fumble after being sacked by Osi Umenyiora resulted in Boley's TD and an interception by Corey Webster led to the second of Lawrence Tynes' two field goals and penalties led to the other 10 points for the Super Bowl champions.

Another gaffe was a fake field goal from the New York 3 early in the fourth quarter on which kicker Shaun Suisham lost a yard. That wasted a 63-yard punt return by Sanders on his first such runback all season.

However, the Steelers still found a way to win.

Giants tight end Martellus Bennett was philosophical about the loss.

``You always want to win and it was great as to how many people showed up with what was going on in the city and it was a hard-fought game,'' Bennett said. ``I don't think they were let down. We did the same thing the city has been doing, which is fighting, fighting, fighting. Everybody has come back and we have to continue to fight. People in the city are continuing to fight and you can't win every battle, but you live to fight again.''

NOTES: Pittsburgh lost leading receiver Antonio Brown in the first half with a left ankle sprain and kick returner Chris Rainey in the third quarter with a rib injury. Rainey had 173 yards on five runbacks ... The Steelers held the ball for more than 35 minutes ... Boley led the Giants with 10 tackles. ... New York had four sacks, with Tuck getting two.

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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2018 NBA Playoffs Wizards-Raptors Game 4: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and the Washington Wizards battle Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Serge Ibaka and the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night in Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

GAME 4: TORONTO RAPTORS AT WASHINGTON WIZARDS

Series: Raptors lead 2-1
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 6 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (pregame coverage begins at 5 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Time to get even

After a momentous Game 3 win, the Wizards have breathed some life back into their season. On Sunday, they can make this a brand new series.

With a win in Game 4 for the Wizards, they would tie the series and send it back to Toronto ensuring another home game in Washington. A loss would put them down 3-1, a deficit that has historically been hard to overcome.

Only 11 teams have accomplished the feat, most notably the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. The Warriors did the same that year in the conference finals. It has only been done three times since 2006. 

How will Raptors respond?

Game 3 took on a much different tone and style than the previous two and it played into the Wizards' hands. It was much more physical and Washington did a good job of instigating contact and using it to their advanage. After the game, several players highlighted Markieff Morris shoving OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka as a turning point.

Just because it worked in Game 3 doesn't mean it will carry over successfully in Game 4. Not only could the Raptors respond with their own dose of brutality, but the referees may try to nip anything of the sort in the bud early on.

It would not be surprising if Game 4 was officiated very tightly and if a message was sent in the first quarter to the players. After seeing how well it worked in Game 3, the Wizards will likely try to test the limits.

Playoff Beal

The Raptors will also try to adjust their defense following Bradley Beal's 28-point outburst in Game 3. He wasn't much of a factor in the first two games of the series, but broke out in Game 3 to lead the Wizards to a win.

The Wizards did a good job of getting Beal involved early. He was found for open looks from three in the first half and had two three-pointers in each of the first two quarters. Beal also took it upon himself to attack the rim and force the issue.

The Raptors held Beal back in the first two games by being rough with him and in Game 2 they got him in foul trouble. Surely he will be a big emphasis of their gameplan on Sunday.

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For more on the Wizards-Raptors series, check out or latest Wizards Tipoff podcast: