Capitals

Bills second-guessed for abandoning run in loss

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Bills second-guessed for abandoning run in loss

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Bills running back C.J. Spiller isn't about to second-guess the offensive game plan or start lobbying for more carries.

``That's not my job description,'' Spiller said on Monday. ``I don't have to sit around and mope and be mad and try to go upstairs and talk to the coaches.''

Turns out, the NFL's leader in yards per carry doesn't need to stir the pot because others were doing that for him a day after the Bills inconsistent offense lacked finish - and much of a ground game - in a 21-9 loss to Houston.

Coach Chan Gailey, an offensive-minded specialist, found himself on the defensive answering questions of whether he abandoned the run too early against the Texans.

``I wish we could've run it more the other day, but it was one of those situations where we thought it best to throw the football,'' Gailey said. ``And it didn't work.''

He's right about that.

The Bills attempted just 16 rushes - and only five in the second half - while Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 25 of 38 for 239 yards, while being held without a touchdown for the third time in four games. Buffalo settled for attempting four fields goals (one missed, and three made) on four trips inside the Texans 22.

Having lost four of five, the Bills (3-5) hit their mid-season mark suddenly in jeopardy of falling completely out of the playoff picture, and face a daunting task of traveling to play at AFC East rival New England (5-3) this weekend. The Patriots have already beaten Buffalo 52-28 this season, and the Bills have lost 11 straight games at New England.

Gailey explained that the Bills stuck with the pass because of how the Texans lined up on defense in a bid to stop the run.

And yet, Spiller and co-starter Fred Jackson still combined for 60 yards rushing on 12 carries. Spiller also added five catches for 63 yards despite being on the field for only 26 of Buffalo's 57 plays on offense.

The 16 rushing attempts (including three by Fitzpatrick and one by Brad Smith) matched the fewest during Gailey's two-plus season term in Buffalo. And they were made by an offense that's statistically been among the NFL's best at getting its running backs involved this season.

Spiller leads the NFL in averaging 7.2 yards a carry and, with 24 catches for 236 yards, he leads running backs in averaging 7.8 yards each time he touches the ball.

``You always like running the ball, but I'm not going to complain about it,'' guard Andy Levitre said. ``It was just part of the plan, I guess. I thought we'd run the ball more but it just wasn't in the cards we were dealt.''

It wasn't lost on Fitzpatrick immediately following the game and also on Monday that the Bills need to lean on both Spiller and Jackson a little more often.

``That's no secret. ... We know we've got to give him the ball, and we've just got to find ways to do it,'' Fitzpatrick said. ``But if we execute in the red zone and we score four touchdowns rather than attempt four field goals, then all of a sudden everybody's not talking about all that. They're talking about how great we did.''

Trouble was, Fitzpatrick and his receivers failed to deliver in what amounted to a dink-and-dunk passing approach that averaged a mere 9.6 yards a completion, and was even worse in the red zone. On nine snaps inside the Texans' 20, the Bills combined for 8 yards, giving up two sacks and losing another 5 yards on a false-start penalty.

That extended a string of red-zone sputters. After opening the season scoring seven touchdowns on 10 drives inside an opponent's 20, Buffalo's managed just four TDs on its last 11 trips.

Fitzpatrick's role in leading the offense is already being questioned. On Friday, general manager Buddy Nix suggested he intends to draft a quarterback to potentially compete for the starting job as early as next season.

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NOTES: Since the start of last season, Buffalo is 8-4 when combining for 125 or more yards rushing and 1-11 when totaling fewer. ... Conversely, the Bills are 5-1 when Fitzpatrick has 29 or fewer pass attempts, and 4-14 when attempting 30-plus. ... Gailey acknowledged his weekly chats with team owner Ralph Wilson haven't been upbeat of late. ``He's upset we're losing. Would you expect anything less?'' Gailey said. ``I am, too. So we've got to win, and our weekly conversations will go better.''

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 Eastern Conference Final 2018: Date, Time, How to Watch, live stream

When the Capitals take the ice in Game 6, they will be playing for their playoff lives. After losing Game 5 on Saturday to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Caps must win on Monday or their season will be over.

In order to do that, the Caps will have to change some things. First, they have to figure out how to win at home, something they have yet to do in this series. Second, they will have to find a way to get to Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy who has been dominant the past three games. Alex Ovechkin also needs to win the matchup against the fourth line since he has only two five-on-five points through five games. Finally, the defense will have to be better. Matt Niskanen took the blame for Game 5, but really it was a tough night all around.

Also, a few penalty calls against Tampa Bay would be nice too.

Where: Capital One Arena

When: 8:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning, Game 6 will be broadcast on NBCSN

Live Stream: You can watch Capitals-Lightning Game 6 on NBC Sports' live stream page.

WHEN IS GAME 6 OF THE CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING PLAYOFF SERIES?

Game 6 of the Capitals vs. Lightning 2018 NHL Playoff series takes place on Monday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m. at Capital One Arnea.

WHAT CHANNEL IS GAME 6 OF CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING ON?

The TV broadcast of Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is on NBCSN. Capitals pre- and postgame coverage takes place on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning Game 6 on NBCSN
10:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM GAME 6 OF THE CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING SERIES?

Game 6 between the Capitals and Lightning is available to stream online on Monday, May 21 live here through the NBC Sports live stream page.

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR GAME 6 OF CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING?

Capitals projected lines:

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly
Devante Smith-Pelly -  Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Braden Holtby with Philipp Grubauer as backup.

Lightning projected lines:

Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Nikita Kucherov
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Yanni Gourde
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Chris Kunitz - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan

Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
Braydon Coburn - Mikhail Sergachev

Andrei Vasilevskiy starts with Louis Domingue as backup.

CAPITALS vs. LIGHTNING GAME 6 OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, offense

Need to Know: Redskins player one-liners, offense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 21, one day before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.  

Redskins player one-liners, offense

A few weeks ago, I did an early projection of the Redskins’ 53-man roster on offense and defense. As the team gets ready for OTAs here is a comment on each player expected to make the team on offense; the defense will be up tomorrow. 

Quarterbacks

—It seems likely that Alex Smith will jump right into the leadership role on the offense, unlike his predecessor, who often seemed to be a reluctant leader. 

—Since Smith has missed a few games with injuries here and there, the chances of the team needing Colt McCoy to come in and win a key game are greater than they were the past three years. 

Kevin Hogan has from now until the end of the season to show that he can be a viable No. 2 quarterback to help ensure that he has a job here in 2019. 

Running backs

—It’s been a while around here since expectations were this high for a player picked late in the second round but Derrius Guice will try to meet them. 

Chris Thompson could be ready to participate in OTAs but look for him to get a very light workload if he puts on a helmet at all. 

—If Rob Kelley wants to be a regular on the 46-man game day inactive list he will have to play a lot of special teams, something he has done sparingly in his two years in the league. 

—Since the team likely will monitor Guice’s workload as a rookie, Samaje Perine will get some carries in key situations this year. 

Wide receivers

—While Josh Doctson does need to get more chances to use his huge catch radius and take balls away from defenders, he also could benefit by working to get more separation on a regular basis. 

—Smith was one of the best deep ball throwers in the league last year and if he is going to maintain that status he will need to look for Paul Richardson at least a few times per game. 

—After his play leveled off in his second and third years in the league, will Jamison Crowder have a contract year breakout? 

—It will be interesting to see what Maurice Harris can do if he stays healthy and get some consistent playing time. 

—Will Trey Quinn be a project or will the last pick in the draft have some instant impact on the offense? 

Tight ends

—​Jordan Reed could be an All-Pro or he could be a cap casualty in 2019. 

—The numbers say that Vernon Davis needs to have Reed on the field to be consistently productive; he had no more than two receptions in any of the last six games. 

—​Jeremy Sprinkle will be relied upon to block and play special teams and anything he produces in the receptions department will be a bonus. 

Offensive line

—After making the Pro Bowl while dealing with a serious knee injury last year, who knows what Trent Williams can accomplish if he can, you know, practice during the week.

—Right now Shawn Lauvao is the Redskins’ starter at left guard but a trade or free agent signing could change that in a heartbeat.

—Jay Gruden has a great deal of confidence in Chase Roullier as the starting center and the hope is that he keeps the job for many years to come. 

—Will Brandon Scherff take the next step and attain All-Pro status?

—​Morgan Moses dealt with injuries to both ankles last year, but he was the only offensive lineman who didn’t miss at least two starts.

—If I had to bet right now I’d say that Ty Nsekhe will start the season as the backup tackle on both sides and not as the starting left guard. 

—As long as Nsekhe is the swing tackle, Geron Christin is likely to be inactive on game days. 

—​Tyler Catalina will have to battle his way onto the roster but his ability to play both guard and tackle will land him on the 53. 

—​Tony Bergstrom is the answer to the question, “Who is the Redskins backup center?”

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  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 22
—Training camp starts (7/26) 67
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 81

The Redskins last played a game 140 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 112 days. 

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