Nationals

Bengals finally get running game moving

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Bengals finally get running game moving

CINCINNATI (AP) The Bengals' offense is developing into a lot more than just Dalton-to-Green, one of the main reasons they're back in the playoff chase.

Finally, they've figured out how to run the ball.

Cincinnati has won three lopsided games in a row largely because the running game has finally gotten in gear. After struggling to find running room for the first half of the season, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has put together 100-yard rushing games the last two weeks.

Green-Ellis ran for a season-high 129 yards during a 34-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday that included the two longest runs of his career - 48 and 39 yards.

The difference is noticeable.

``Confidence plays a big role,'' offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said. ``Those guys love to run the ball and it takes the pressure off the quarterback. When you have success running the ball, guys come off (the snap) harder.

``You can see our running game fluctuates from week to week, but they are buying into the system and doing a great job.''

The Bengals (6-5) head to San Diego this weekend trying to stay in the mix for a playoff spot. They're tied with Pittsburgh for the AFC's second wild card, although the Steelers won their head-to-head meeting at Paul Brown Stadium this season.

It should be a much tougher test in San Diego. The Bengals ran for a season-high 189 yards overall in a 28-6 win over Kansas City, which has only one victory all season. They followed that with 221 yards rushing against the Raiders, who have lost four straight and given up the most points in the NFL.

The Chargers are tied for fifth-best run defense in the league, along with the Steelers.

``We've got to keep this going,'' quarterback Andy Dalton said. ``The running game has done a great job the last two weeks. We've got to keep the balance.''

The run game has improved as the middle of the line has developed.

The Bengals suffered two significant injuries on the line during preseason. Left guard Travelle Wharton suffered a season-ending knee injury during the first preseason game. Center Kyle Cook hurt his right ankle in the final preseason game and needed surgery. Rookie Kevin Zeitler was given the starting job at right guard in preseason.

Cincinnati signed center Jeff Faine only 10 days before the opener. When he suffered a hamstring injury, rookie Trevor Robinson took over.

With all the changes, the running attack suffered. Green-Ellis was held under 70 yards in five of the first eight games, forcing Dalton to look for Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green more than the Bengals would have liked.

``It is tough,'' Zeitler said. ``We had to rely so much on our pass game early and just defenses could focus on that area more. But now that that's going, it really helps open everything up and the offensive output has gone up, especially during the win streak.''

It's helped that defenses are giving Green a lot of attention lately, using a safety to help with double coverage instead of bunching more players at the line to worry about the run. Green-Ellis was able to break those long runs - backup Cedric Peerman also had a 31-yard gain - because the Raiders' secondary was more worried about the pass.

Green still finished with 111 yards on only three catches.

``Guys have to respect A.J.,'' Peerman said. ``He's a phenomenal playmaker. You throw the ball up to him, he's going to come down with it. That definitely helps us out in the running game. He's just done a phenomenal job.''

Gruden acknowledged it was difficult to keep calling runs plays when they weren't working in the first half of the season.

``Very tough,'' Gruden said. ``The best thing is the last two weeks, I think we've had one negative run. As long as we are churning and getting two, three yards, it's OK. And occasionally pop a big one like we did (against Oakland).

``Keep the defense off-balance and if they want to load up to stop the run - thank you! We'll take some shots.''

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NOTES: The Bengals made a pair of moves with their practice squad on Tuesday, releasing C Scott Wedige and LB Ben Jacobs and signing OT Dan Knapp and TE Bryce Davis. ... The Bengals and Steelers have comparable schedules for the last five weeks of the season, playing the same three opponents and each other. The only difference: Pittsburgh hosts Cleveland (3-8) while the Bengals play at Philadelphia (3-8).

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Nationals-Phillies postponed on Monday night

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Nationals-Phillies postponed on Monday night

WASHINGTON -- Bryce Harper came back to the District on Monday. No baseball was played.

Rain storms cycled through the DMV starting around 6 p.m. at first delaying the series-opening game between the Nationals and Phillies, before it was finally postponed at 10 p.m. The game will be made up as part of a split-doubleheader on Wednesday. The first game is at 1:05 p.m., the second at 7:05 p.m.

The Tuesday starters for both teams remain the same: Patrick Corbin for the Nationals and Jake Arrieta for the Phillies.

Washington will need an extra starter during the week because it is playing seven games in six days. For instance, the Nationals could call someone up to pitch the first game Wednesday, and have Max Scherzer pitch on regular rest Wednesday night. The doubleheader being played Wednesday instead of Tuesday allows the Nationals plenty of time to import a starter for the day, if they choose to do it then.

However, Tuesday’s forecast is also rain-filled. Stay tuned.

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The Capitals were mentioned on Jeopardy! and of course we're proud of it

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The Capitals were mentioned on Jeopardy! and of course we're proud of it

The Stanley Cup no longer resides in Washington, and all eyes have shifted toward the offseason as the Capitals look to retool for next season. But, that doesn't mean we can't stop and appreciate the magical 2018 season now and again.

A week after reminiscing about the championship run and ensuing parade, the famous game show "Jeopardy!" gave us one more moment of glory on Monday night.

One of the clues featured in the latest episode had the Capitals as the answer and even featured Alexander Ovechkin.

It appears that one of the contestants did answer it correctly. More importantly, according to the replies, it was also cleared up that no one brought up the Pittsburgh Penguins during that round. 

While it may be somewhat hard to cope with the fact that the Capitals will not be enjoying another offseason of championship partying in 2019 we can take pride in the fact that the question was about the Caps winning the Stanley Cup, and not centered around a dreaded title drought.

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