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Why injury may mean final game in Baltimore for Ravens WR Brown

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Why injury may mean final game in Baltimore for Ravens WR Brown

OWINGS MILLS – Has wide receiver Marlon Brown played his last game with the Ravens?

Another disappointing season for Brown has ended. Coach John Harbaugh confirmed Monday that Brown, who has not played since Week 11, would not be in the lineup for the season finale against the Bengals. Brown had just 10 catches for 142 yards and no touchdowns, and has been struggling with a back injury.

“His back is just not responding,” Harbaugh said during his Monday press conference. “He’s had back spasms, then they found a little bit of a disc issue. About two weeks ago I could just tell he wasn’t going to get back, so I kind of gave up hope and I think he did to.

“He’s going to have to take the offseason and get it right. It’s no major, blown-out back or anything like that. We tried different things and it just didn’t respond.” 

Why wasn’t Brown placed on injured reserve? That also remained an unanswered question. Brown was kept on the active roster, while young players with potential like running back Raheem Mostart and offensive lineman Kaleb Johnson were waived.

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“I’m not sure why (general manager) Ozzie (Newsome) didn’t put him on IR,” Harbaugh said Monday. “It would be a good question for Ozzie, probably just didn’t have a roster move to make would be my guess.”

So where does that leave Brown? Not in the strongest position. Brown hasn’t scored a touchdown since his promising rookie season in 2013 (49 catches, 524 yards, seven touchdowns). The Ravens will have stiff competition at the wide receiver position, regardless of what happens in the draft, and even if Steve Smith retires.

Brown’s size (6-foot-5) figured to make him an effective red zone and third-down receiver, but that has not materialized. Brown will be a restricted free agent after the season, leaving his future with the Ravens uncertain.

“Marlon’s one of my favorite guys,” Harbaugh said. “He works really hard at it, has a great attitude, and to my eyes (is) very talented. But it just hasn’t worked in the last two years like we all expected after his rookie year. It’s going to be a really important offseason for him, and it’s going to be a critical season for him when he comes back.”

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

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A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE

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3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps knock out the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.