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Struggling Rams defense hoping to bounce back

Struggling Rams defense hoping to bounce back

ST. LOUIS (AP) It's been a rough couple of weeks for St. Louis' defense, and the Rams know it, too.

St. Louis has dropped three straight games, yielding 30 points against Green Bay and 45 against New England in its last two losses before its bye week. The Rams' points allowed average jumped nearly five points to 20th in the league, from 18.5 and fifth-best before playing the Packers. The overall defense dropped from seventh-best to tied for 14th.

``What has happened the last two weeks, everyone that is associated with this defense, players and coaches knows it's totally unacceptable,'' said Dave McGinnis, the assistant head coach who tends to speak on behalf of the defense. ``Now, the next thing you have to do is you have to accept, beginning with me, the responsibility to change it.''

Coaches and players point to turnovers as one reason for the slide. St. Louis (3-5) had two more takeaways than its opponents through the first five games. The Rams haven't forced a single turnover during their losing streak but have coughed the ball up four times, including three interceptions for Sam Bradford.

Next up is a trip to NFC West-leading San Francisco.

The 49ers have a plus-three turnover differential and have scored 38 points off their opponents' miscues, while giving up just 16 points on nine giveaways. They also rank as the top scoring defense in the league.

``The challenge again, going into this week, is the 49ers don't make mistakes,'' head coach Jeff Fisher said Thursday. ``We have to force the mistakes to compete with a team like this. You go in there and don't get the ball back either on third down or as a result of a turnover, it's hard to beat anybody.''

Opponents have converted about 40 percent of third downs against the Rams, 15th-best in the league. The Patriots secured first downs on seven of 12 attempts and the Packers nine of 15. In contrast, the Rams are tied with Tampa Bay as the eighth-worst in the league at about 34 percent.

The defense was particularly shaky against the Packers and Patriots, who rank ninth and first in scoring, respectively. They combined for 875 yards against the Rams. In the four games prior, St. Louis gave up 192 yards more total yards - coincidently the exact amount Miami gained in its 17-14 victory that started the current three-game slide.

``Individually, we've all taken turns in our mistakes and we haven't forced turnovers,'' said cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who has three interceptions this year. ``When you add those two things to the mix, it doesn't pose well to stop offenses. If we can start honing in on attention to detail and creating turnovers, we'll find ourselves with a better chance to win.''

San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith's resume doesn't compare to the Packers' Aaron Rodgers or New England's Tom Brady, but he has the league's fourth-best quarterback rating this year. The 49ers also lead the league with 168.6 yards rushing per game.

McGinnis said the obvious measure of a good defensive game is the final score.

``If you're playing a team like this, you've got to find a way to match their physicalness in the run game and then be able to take care of the play-action pass when it shows up,'' McGinnis said. ``When you're watching defense, it's if you keep the opponent from having fewer points than you score, than that's when you observe you're doing good.''

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Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards vs. Hornets: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Kemba Walker, Dwight Howard, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.

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

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. CHARLOTTE HORNETS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 6 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM

On a roll

The Wizards have some serious momentum going right now. With an impressive win over the Cavs on Thursday, they have now won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall went down with a left knee injury. They had a week off due to the All-Star break, but didn't show any rust at all in their first game back.

The Wizards are now 34-24, 10 games above the .500 mark. They are fourth in the East and could move into third on Friday if they win and the Cavaliers lose. Even with Wall out, things continue to look up for Washington.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Hornets have had their number

The Wizards haven't done so well against the Hornets so far this season. Charlotte has taken both meetings and that includes a 24-point win on Jan. 17. That game featured Dwight Howard taunting the Wizards late in the fourth quarter.

Howard has killed the Wizards through two games with averages of 22.0 points and 14.0 rebounds. Jeremy Lamb (20.0 ppg vs. Wizards) has been a big factor as well as All-Star Kemba Walker (21.5 ppg vs. Wizards).

The last time these teams played about a month ago frustrations boiled over in an incident that got Tim Frazier ejected. Michael Carter-Williams picked a fight with Jason Smith and Frazier went off:

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

Hornets coming in hot

The Hornets are outside the playoff picture at the moment at eight games below .500, but they have won two straight games and Walker and Howard are coming off huge games. In a win over the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, Walker dropped 31 points and Howard grabbed 24 rebounds.

Those guys will be riding a high coming into Washington on Friday. But it should be noted that Howard complained after the game how tired he is at this point in the season. That exhausion could affect him more in the second game of a back-to-back.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

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Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 23, 19 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The overrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/30/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Yesterday we looked at three events that were underrated at the time they happened. Here, in no particular order, are three overrated events from 2017.

Beating the Raiders—At the time, the Raiders were 2-0 and they still had the status of being one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl. The Redskins whipped them 27-10 and the prevailing view was that the Redskins were on their way to a special year. But that loss started a four-game losing streak for the Raiders. They are currently riding a three-game skid and at 6-9 they are contenders for a top-10 draft pick, not for the Super Bowl. The win became less impressive for the Redskins as the year went on.

Signing Terrelle Pryor—There was plenty of excitement when the Redskins signed the Browns wide receiver, who had 1,000 receiving yards catching passes from a sub-mediocre group of quarterbacks in Cleveland. Imagine what he could do with a quality QB and a good offense around him. The hype grew when a fan captured him making this catch in training camp:

But the production was not there. In nine games before going on injured reserve with an ankle injury, Pryor caught 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Su’a Cravens departure—There was a lot of concern about issues both on and off the field when Cravens abruptly let it be known to teammates that he intended to retire just after the Redskins finalized their 53-man roster on September 2. All offseason Cravens’ name had been written at the top of the depth chart at strong safety in Sharpie. When he walked away and was put on the Exempt/Left Squad list (and eventually on the Reserve/Left Squad list, ending his season), there was plenty of speculation about whether the organization botched the situation and, of more immediate importance, what would happen at safety without Cravens. We’re still not sure about what happened but Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett did a respectable job at safety.

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 6
—NFL Draft (4/26) 62
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 198