Capitals

Well, that was rock bottom for replacement refs

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Well, that was rock bottom for replacement refs

From Comcast SportsNetSEATTLE (AP) -- Golden Tate shoved a Green Bay defender out of the way, wrestled another for the ball and was awarded a disputed touchdown on the final play. But it was another 10 minutes before the game actually ended, when the Seattle Seahawks and the stunned Packers were called back on the field for the extra point.Replacement ref rage may have peaked Monday night.Just when it seemed that NFL coaches, players and fans couldn't get any angrier, along came a fiasco that trumped any of the complaints from the weekend. The Seahawks' 14-12 victory featured one of the most bizarre finishes in recent memory, and was certain to reignite frustrations over the locked-out officials."Don't ask me a question about the officials," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "I've never seen anything like that in all my years in football.""I know it's been a wild weekend in the NFL and I guess we're part of it now," he said.Russell Wilson threw the 24-yard touchdown pass to Tate. The crew of replacement officials agreed that Tate caught the pass."We both had possession of it. I don't even know the rule but I guess the tie goes to the receiver," Tate said.Asked later if he got his hands on Wilson's pass first, Tate wasn't so sure."I think so. ... Oh, well maybe he did. But I took it from him," Tate said.Wilson scrambled from the pocket and threw to the corner of the end zone as the clock expired. Tate shoved Green Bay's Sam Shields out of the way, then wrestled with M.D. Jennings for possession. It was ruled on the field as a touchdown and after a lengthy review, referee Wayne Elliott came out from under the hood and announced "the ruling on the field stands" and CenturyLink Field erupted in celebration.Seattle (2-1) won its second straight, while Green Bay (1-2) and saw its streak of wins in six straight road openers snapped.Wilson's heave came at the end of a final frantic drive after Seattle had previously missed on a fourth-down attempt from the Green Bay 7 with 2 minutes left. The turnover on downs appeared to end Seattle's hopes and cap an impressive second-half comeback by the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, who was sacked eight times -- all in the first half."I was just trying to keep possession of the ball. The guy who was fighting me for it, he's strong. I was just trying to hold onto it until our guys pulled them off of me," Tate said. "I didn't know if they called touchdown, interception, incompletion. I didn't know what was going on. Couldn't hear anything and I just tried to keep fighting for the ball."Elliott told a pool reporter after the game that the play was ruled as simultaneous possession that was confirmed by the replay official."They both possessed it," Elliott said.The Packers were far from convinced that Tate had possession. Jennings said he had the ball pinned to his chest the entire time. A handful of Packers players began venting on their Twitter accounts right after the game, posting protest messages to their followers -- many of them too profane to print. Offensive lineman T.J. Lang even challenged the NFL to "fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs.""Just watching in the back room, I think if you asked Golden Tate to take a lie detector test and ask him did he catch that ball or did M.D. catch that ball, M.D. caught that," Packers' wide receiver Greg Jennings said. "It was clear as day ... at least that is what my eyes saw."Seattle instantly celebrated while the Packers argued with anyone in a striped shirt. Both teams were eventually shoved to the sidelines as Tate stomped through the end zone in celebration. Following the review, Elliott's announcement sent the stadium into delirium and even more confusion ensued until the teams finally returned to the field for the extra point."From what I understood from the officials it was a simultaneous catch. Tie goes to the runner. Good call," Seattle coach Pete Carroll said.Rodgers had quite a different opinion."It was awful. Just look at the replay. And then the fact that it was reviewed, it was awful," he said. "That's all I'm going to say about it."We shouldn't have been in that position."It was Tate's second touchdown of the game after catching a 41-yard TD in the second quarter to give Seattle a 7-0 lead. He finished with three catches for 68 yards, while Wilson was 10 of 21 for 130 yards.Green Bay averted disaster when John Kuhn fumbled on the Packers first play after Seattle missed on fourth down from the Packers 7, but center Jeff Saturday recovered. The Seahawks held and forced Green Bay to punt from the 4 with 57 seconds left. The 41-yard punt set Seattle up at the Green Bay 46 with 46 seconds remaining.Wilson hit Sidney Rice for 22 yards on a slant then went for Tate in the end zone but the ball was batted away with 18 seconds left. He threw over the head of Evan Moore on second down leaving 12 seconds remaining and missed Tate again at the 5.Wilson took the final snap with 8 seconds remaining. He appeared to be looking for Rice on the right side of the end zone, but rolled left and threw for Tate, who was in a crowd of three Packers defenders. His shove of Sam Shields was obvious and it was never clear who had possession between Tate and Jennings."I just ran my route on the backside. Wilson came back and wanted to give me one more chance, especially after I dropped the first one and I just competed," Tate said. "I make sure I practice on high balls and catching balls at the highest point. Thankfully I came down with it."Others spoke their mind by tweeting.Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman tweeted "These games are a joke," while NBA MVP LeBron James tweeted "I simply just LOVE the NFL to much to see these mistakes. I'm sick like I just played for the Packers"Wisconsin State Senator Jon Erpenbach tweeted NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's office phone number, saying in a separate tweet that if the ending Monday did not spark an end to the lockout "this season will be a joke."Notes: The eight sacks of Rodgers in the first half matches the most in his career for any game. He was sacked eight times by Minnesota in 2009. ... Seattle DE Chris Clemons tied an NFL record with four sacks in the first half. Derrick Thomas had four sacks in the first half against San Diego in 1992. ... Green Bay WR Greg Jennings finished with six catches after being a question mark coming into the game with a groin injury.

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Fixing their 'Swiss cheese' defense now a top priority for the Caps

Fixing their 'Swiss cheese' defense now a top priority for the Caps

Heading into the 2017-18 season, defense was a question mark for the Capitals. That question mark grew even bigger with Matt Niskanen on LTIR. Now, in the wake of an 8-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and with Niskanen out until at least early November, Barry Trotz knows the team needs to fix the blue line and they need to do it fast.

“We've got to be better,” Trotz told reporters after Tuesday’s morning skate. “But there’s areas of our game that we can be better. We can be better in our own zone. We can take care of business defensively. That’s got to be our security blanket. We had too many holes in our d-zone. It was like Swiss cheese.”

RELATED: TROTZ HAS SHUFFLED THE DEFENSIVE PAIRS. WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE NOW?

The team’s first response to Niskanen’s injury was to recall Madison Bowey, a player who impressed in training camp and who likely would have started the season on the team if not for a salary cap crunch and his waiver exempt status.

Bowey’s first game did not go well with the lasting memory being a highlight reel deke Jakub Voracek delivered to turn Bowey around before setting up another Philadelphia goal.

Trotz took ownership of Saturday’s game saying the team did not “insulate” Bowey very well in his NHL debut.

The problem is that it will difficult to insulate him or anyone on the Caps’ defense given how thin the blue line currently is. Washington’s defense currently features two rookies in Bowey and Christian Djoos and Bowey is only one of three right-handed shots. Plus, both Bowey and Djoos are likely better options than either Taylor Chorney or Aaron Ness so it will be tough to take either rookie out of the lineup.

MORE CAPITALS: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-LEAFS

Given Washington’s salary cap constraints as they are right back up against the cap when Niskanen returns from injury and his salary is back on the books, it will be difficult for the Caps to make any sort of trade to bring in outside help. Many may point to goalie Philipp Grubauer as a trade chip, but his salary cap hit is only $1.5 million and you can subtract $650,000 from that as the team would have to recall Pheonix Copley to serve as backup. What kind of help can you really get with less than $1 million to play with?

If the team is going to turn things around and shore up its defense, it will mean improving from within.

Said Trotz, “We're in this for the long haul with our defense.”

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

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

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday 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. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN (coverage begins at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington)
Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

It all begins

The long, crazy, unprecedented NBA offseason is officially over. It's time to watch some Wizards basketball. This year Washington enters the season with the highest expectations they have had in a while. Coming off their best season since the 1970s, a year in which they won 49 games, their division and reached the second round of the playoffs, the goal is to go further. They want to win more than 50 games and reach the Eastern Conference Finals or beyond.

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris are all coming off the best seasons of their careers and will hope to take another step. Marcin Gortat will look to continue being a double-double machine. Ian Mahinmi will hope for better health. Kelly Oubre, Jr. will seek a breakout season. And their new-look bench will try to improve on last year's group. The Wizards have the tools to be one of the best teams in the NBA, but they have to stay healthy and prove it now that the rest of the NBA knows what they are capable of.

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A different Wall?

Wall made All-NBA for the first time last season, but there are many reasons to believe the best is yet to come. Wall earned that honor despite sitting out much of last offseason following two knee surgeries. This summer he was healthy and benefitted because of it. He was able to focus on his conditioning like never before and reported in fantastic shape. Now he has his sights on the MVP award and first team All-Defense. We get to see the new version of him on Wednesday night.

Wall, of course, is still finding motivation in the littlest of things. He took issue this summer with ESPN not ranking him in the top 10 among NBA players. And on Tuesday he tweeted what seemed to be a gripe with ESPN not including him in their tweet welcoming back the NBA. Wall, again, appears to be on a mission and the rest of the league should watch out, perhaps especially if you're a rookie point guard getting a lot of hype. While we're on the subject...

[RELATED: HOW MAHINMI LOST WEIGHT, WHY HE LOVES D.C.]

High profile NBA debuts

The Sixers will have two, not one, but two No. 1 overall picks making their NBA debuts on Wednesday night. It's not often you see that and it's a big reason why this one is slated for a national TV audience, that and because big things are expected of Joel Embiid. Markelle Fultz was the top selection in 2017 and will be playing his first game in his own backyard. He grew up in nearby Upper Marlboro, Md. and went to DeMatha Catholic. He won't start, but this is a huge night for him. He is playing his first game on ESPN at home and against Wall, one of the game's best point guards. No pressure, kid.

The other No. 1 pick is Ben Simmons, whom the Sixers took in the 2016 draft. He missed all of last year with a foot injury but is back and ready to remind us of why he went first overall. Simmons had a tremendous preseason and showed off his rare talents as a 6-foot-10 guy who can run the floor with anyone and pass like a point guard. He is going to make an impact in this league, but we don't know exactly what type of player he will be. Watching his debut should be fascinating.

[RELATED: KELLY OUBRE CAN SEE WHY DURANT MADE A FAKE TWITTER ACCOUNT]