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Doctor optimistic after Redskins' RG3 knee surgery

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Doctor optimistic after Redskins' RG3 knee surgery

WASHINGTON (AP) If Adrian Peterson can do it, maybe Robert Griffin III can, too.

Peterson set an incredible standard this season for NFL players returning from major knee surgery, nearly breaking the NFL single-season rushing record. Griffin need look nowhere else for an inspiration as the Washington Redskins quarterback begins the road back from an operation Wednesday on two ligaments in his right knee.

``I think it gives motivation to everyone,'' said Russ Paine, a physical therapist in Houston who worked with the Peterson as the Minnesota Vikings running back went through rehab.

Griffin had his lateral collateral ligament repaired and his ACL reconstructed for a second time. The surgery was performed in Florida by orthopedist James Andrews, who was optimistic that Griffin would be back on the field this fall.

``We expect a full recovery, and it is everybody's hope and belief that due to Robert's high motivation, he will be ready for the 2013 season,'' Andrews said in a statement released by the Redskins. ``The goal of his treatment is to give him the best opportunity for a long professional career.''

But no two athletes - or knee surgeries, for that matter - are exactly alike, so pinning down a date for Griffin's return is an inexact science. Complicating matters is that Griffin tore the ACL in the same knee in 2009 while playing for Baylor.

University of Maryland head team physician Craig Bennett said football players typically need seven to 11 months to return from a second ACL reconstruction, but that it often takes up to a year for the ligament to be fully healed.

``Typically your first season back from an ACL reconstruction, there's a tendency to have some struggles from time to time,'' Bennett said.

That's what made Peterson so remarkable. He tore an ACL in late December 2011 and was the league's best back in 2012.

Paine said Peterson's focus and intensity in rehab and natural athletic gifts made the quick recovery possible. Many say Griffin has those same qualities, and he was sounding an upbeat tone on Twitter even before the surgery began early Wednesday morning.

``Thank you for your prayers and support. I love God, my family, my team, the fans, & I love this game. See you guys next season,'' Griffin tweeted.

While Griffin heals, the debate will continue as to whether he should have been on the field when he hurt the knee for a final time in the fourth quarter Sunday's playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Griffin reinjured his knee in the first quarter and was obviously hobbled, but he stayed in the game after convincing coach Mike Shanahan that all was OK.

``People can limp around; people can be hurting,'' Hall of Fame quarterback and ESPN analyst Steve Young said Wednesday. ``Some of the great John Wayne hero things that have ever happened in football happened because people play hurt.''

The first major injury to Griffin's knee was the torn ACL in the third game of the 2009 season with Baylor, when he was hurt on the opening drive against Northwestern State but kept playing until halftime. Griffin missed the rest of the year but returned in 2010 and won the Heisman Trophy in 2011.

Griffin's first notable injury in the pros was a concussion early this season, which led the quarterback to learn to protect his body better while running the ball.

But last month, at the end of a 13-yard scramble, he sprained the LCL when he was hit by Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. Griffin missed one game and returned to play in three more while wearing a bulky knee brace, his mobility clearly hindered.

On Sunday, Griffin hurt the knee again as he fell awkwardly while throwing a pass late in the first quarter against the Seahawks. He was mostly ineffective the rest of the game, completing only four passes after that drive.

Griffin finally departed with 6:19 to play in the game, after the knee buckled while he was trying to field a bad shotgun snap.

The No. 2 overall pick in last year's draft, Griffin was one of several rookie quarterbacks to make an instant impact on the NFL this season. He set the league record for best season passer rating by a rookie QB and led the Redskins to their first NFC East title in 13 years.

Griffin's knee has kept the nation's capital on tenterhooks all week. He was hurt Sunday. Then Shanahan announced Monday that a second opinion was needed.

Then on Tuesday came word that surgery would be taking place. Wednesday was the actual surgery. While it was taking place, District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray said he will invite Griffin to watch President Barack Obama's inaugural parade on a reviewing stand outside the district government building later this month.

``I'd love to have him come, but ... he obviously may be unable. His mobility may be impaired somewhat at that point,'' Gray said. ``My focus right now is on having him successfully get through the surgery.''

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AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen in New York and Associated Press writer Ben Nuckols in Washington contributed to this report.

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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Even Deshaun Watson acknowledges that Lamar Jackson is the MVP

Even Deshaun Watson acknowledges that Lamar Jackson is the MVP

When an MVP candidate calls Lamar Jackson the MVP, you know Jackson is having a great year.

That's what happened today after the Baltimore Ravens thrashed the Houston Texans 41-7 and MVP-hopeful Deshaun Watson swapped jerseys with Jackson.

It was all love between the two quarterbacks, who have both had stellar seasons so far. Both QBs ranked in the top-5 for QBR heading into Week 11.

When signing his jersey for Jackson, Watson made sure to let him know who the real MVP is.

“I just wrote, ‘Always love, keep grinding and MVP,’" Watson said after the game. "He’s like a brother to me. Keep going and stay healthy.”

“I mean, it’s all love. It’s all respect. He played well today," Watson said. "It’s a lot of season left. Who knows what can happen? You know Russell [Wilson], me, Christian [McCaffrey], Aaron [Rodgers], who knows? It’s all showing love and respect. This game is about brotherhood. I have a lot of peace in my heart and mind. Today didn’t go our way, so we will have to hear some criticism. At the end of the day, that’s not going to stop what I’m doing. I’m going to do what I love to do at a high level.”

When one of the top competitors in the league calls someone else the MVP, those words carry extra weight. Watson's comments are a pretty good indicator of Jackson taking over the league.

If he keeps it up, Jackson should have no problem accomplishing the NFL's most impressive individual feat.

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Ravens defense steals the show in big win over Texans

Ravens defense steals the show in big win over Texans

BALTIMORE — For the first time all season, the Ravens defense, not the offense, had to carry the team’s weight. 

With the game tied at zero through the first quarter, and after a rare Justin Tucker missed field goal, the Ravens’ defense was forced to hold the fort long enough for the offense to get going. And once the offense found its stride, the defense didn’t let up. 

The Ravens defense held MVP-candidate Deshaun Watson at bay all afternoon long en route to another 30-point win, a 41-7 romp, at M&T Bank Stadium over the Texans. 

“I feel like we’re hitting our stride, especially with the defensive side of the ball,” defensive tackle Chris Wormley said. “The offense has been playing well all season and we’re finally clicking on all levels. Today felt pretty good being the side of the ball that got us going.”

Baltimore finished with a season-high seven sacks and had 10 quarterback hits on Watson. For the entirety of the afternoon, the Ravens kept Watson in the pocket and unable to throw downfield with any consistency. The end result was the best defensive performance of the season. 

“Just try to contain him, keep him in that cage,” Tyus Bowser said of the gameplan. “Just try to get to him as best you can. They have a great front line, and we did very well as far as in the secondary of making him hold the ball. When that happens, we’ve got to do our job on the front line and try to get to him and we did that well.”

Bowser finished with two sacks, as did Matthew Judon. The sacks kept the Texans offense, which entered ranked eighth in the NFL with 26.4 points per game, down to just seven — the touchdown came when the Texans trailed 34-0.

Watson threw for just 169 yards on 18-of-29 passing with an interception. Houston had just 232 yards of total offense and possessed the ball for just 23:41 of game time. 

But the most impressive part of the day was the pass-rush for the Ravens, who entered with just 16 sacks on the season. 

“It was part of the plan,” Wormley said. “We worked it all week and we stuck to it. No one was selfish and trying to do their own thing and it worked out pretty well for us.”

Once the Ravens offense, which scored on its last seven possessions  — drives that didn’t end the half or the game — got going, the Ravens defense didn’t let up, either. 

Houston turned the ball over twice, punted three times and turned it over on downs three times throughout the game. The other two drives ended in a missed field goal and a touchdown. 

The way the win happened was, admittedly, a bit shocking for the Ravens, which had to slow down DeAndre Hopkins and Watson, one of the NFL’s best quarterback-wide receiver combos. Hopkins finished with just 80 yards on seven catches and the Ravens dominated one of the NFL's best teams from start to finish.

“You just go out there and play the best ball that you can,” Earl Thomas said. “Today was a little surprising, I hope nobody on the team gets offended, but I didn’t think we was going to do them like that. Just take it one game at a time and keep chopping wood.”

With the Ravens defense seemingly having turned a corner, the Ravens can now seriously be discussed as one of the NFL’s elite teams — if they weren’t already. 

It’s a start contrast from where the defense was after the fourth game of the season, a 40-25 loss to the Browns where the defense couldn’t get out of its own way. The Ravens fell to 2-2 and vowed to fix the communication errors which plagued the team for the first quarter of the season. 

That loss to Cleveland on Sept. 29 was the team’s last loss.

“Wink (defensive coordinator Don Martindale) told us at the beginning of the week that this defense is 40 percent different than it was at the beginning of the season,” Wormley said. “So it just goes to show that our plan works, no matter who is in it.”

With an injury to Michael Pierce, the Ravens relied upon Domata Peko and Justin Ellis, two defensive linemen who weren’t in the organization a week ago, to play crucial defensive snaps. 

The Texans rushed for 6.1 yards a carry, but with the seven sacks, they were forced to play behind the chains for a majority of the day. 

“It’s just what we do,” Brandon Williams said. “It’s what we hang our hats on — next man up. We've said it from the very beginning. Look, people get hurt, you’ve seen it. But, other people are coming in and balling out. We love to see that.”

In three of the last four weeks, the Ravens have now earned victories over Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson. In none of those weeks have either quarterbacks scored more than 20 points against the Ravens. 

While the offense hung 41 points, with a quarterback in Lamar Jackson seemingly gaining more MVP hype each day, Sunday was about the defense. 

And while it may seem that the offense is the reason that has made the Ravens tick this season, it’s the defense which the Ravens will need most down the stretch. If Sunday is any indication, they’re going to be one of the toughest outs in the NFL.

“Maybe there’s no weak links? I don’t know,” Wormley said with a smile. “We just talked about the offense started a little slow today, but our defense picked it up. When we’re beating these teams convincingly, especially these top teams in the NFL, it’s a good feeling.”

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