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Broncos promote Gase to offensive coordinator

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Broncos promote Gase to offensive coordinator

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) The Denver Broncos have hired a new offensive coordinator - and no, his name isn't Peyton Manning.

Adam Gase will be calling the plays next season as he replaces Mike McCoy, who bolted earlier this week to become head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

Sure, Manning will have input - lots of it, actually - but Gase said the four-time NFL MVP actually wants a coach to bounce ideas off of, which they frequently did walking off the practice field in the season the Broncos just finished up.

That built-in familiarity with Manning and the offense is a reason why Gase was promoted from quarterbacks coach Thursday.

``While we did speak with several qualified candidates, it became clear that Adam was the best fit,'' coach John Fox said. ``He did a great job working with Peyton and all of our quarterbacks the last two seasons. Adam is a bright coach with a great future, and I am confident he'll have success in his new role.''

After all, he is sending plays in to Manning, who has a knack for making just about any offensive coordinator look good.

``Peyton does a great job of when you give him a play, if it needs to be better, he does a great job of putting you in that play,'' Gase said. ``That's what he does that's so great, that I don't think people admire enough. That's why you don't see a lot of bad plays with him.''

The two will be in Hawaii together for the Pro Bowl, but they won't interrupt beach time to chat about blitz packages. Gase is going to leave Manning alone until after the game. Then, they'll get down to work.

In the meantime, Gase will brush up on the offense so when Manning comes to him with inquiries, he will be ready.

Asked if Manning ever runs out of questions, Gase responded, ``That would be a firm no.

``His questions are always as productive and great questions,'' said Gase, who joined the Broncos in 2009 as wide receivers coach. ``When he asks questions, you're sitting there going, `That's a great question.'

``If you don't know the answer that second, you better go investigate and figure out what the answers are.''

Manning is coming off a stellar year for the Broncos in his return from four neck surgeries that forced him to sit out a season. He shattered numerous single-season franchise records, including most TD passes (37), yards (4,659), quarterback rating (105.8), completions (400) and completion percentage (68.6).

Still, one of the most indelible images of Manning's first season in the Mile High City was his kneel-down to run out the clock with the ball at his 20, 31 seconds remaining in regulation and two timeouts at his disposal. Manning later threw a costly interception in overtime, setting up the Ravens' game-winning field goal that knocked the top-seeded Broncos out of the postseason.

So, would Gase have had Manning take a knee?

``It was best for our guys to regroup at the time, get to overtime and try to win it,'' the 34-year-old Gase said. ``We had opportunities on offense and didn't make the best of them. It's a disappointing deal.''

Yeah, but would he have preferred the Broncos to be more aggressive?

``We were just trying to regroup at that time,'' he said.

Although the Broncos played at an up-tempo pace all season, Gase thinks they can take it up another notch. And those 30 points they averaged a game? He believes it can soar higher.

``We're looking to play pedal to the metal and play as fast as possible and be aggressive, and score as many points as possible every game,'' Gase said. ``I'm not nervous about calling plays. You have one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time as your quarterback. I'm excited. I'm thrilled to be able to have that opportunity.''

It's not like Gase hasn't called a few plays before. Late in games, McCoy would allow him to take a few series, just to throw different wrinkles at opposing defenses.

``We experimented with that a little bit and it went well,'' Gase said.

As for whether the plays he sent in resulted in points, Gase remained silent.

``Not telling,'' he said, chuckling. ``You'll have to figure out which one it was.''

The real task before Gase remains this: Matching Manning's passion.

``When he sees guys do what he does, grind like he does, I think that's what he's looking for with everybody in the building,'' Gase said. ``He gravitates to people like that. I try to do that 100 percent, get after it as much as possible, to give him as many answers as he needed for that week.

``You can't just walk into his meeting room and say, `I think I got it.' You better be on it.''

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5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

5 reasons the Caps beat the Lightning in Game 6

After losing three straight, the Capitals battled back in Game 6 on Monday. With their 3-0 win, Washington forced the Eastern Conference Final into a decisive Game 7 on Wednesday.

Here is how the Caps did it.

1. Braden Holtby matched Andrei Vasilevskiy save for save

Andrei Vasilevskiy was just as great in this game as he was in the three previous, but one of the major differences in this one was that Holtby was just as good. He may not have been tested as much (Vasilevskiy made 32 saves, Holtby 24), but he was big when the team needed.

In the second period with the scored tied at 0, Holtby made one of the most critical saves perhaps of the entire season when he denied Anthony Cirelli with the toe on a 2-on-1. When the Caps took the lead, Holtby really shut the door in the third period with 10 saves to cap off what was his fifth career playoff shutout and first shutout of the entire season.

2. T.J. Oshie’s timely goal

Over halfway into the game, it looked like it was just going to be one of those nights. Caps fans know it well by now. Washington outplays their opponent, they get chance after chance and develop a whopping advantage in shots, but they run into a hot goalie and a random play suddenly turns into a goal for the other team, game and season over.

Vasilevskiy was on his way to having perhaps his best performance of the series. Considering how he played in the three games prior to Game 6, that’s saying something. The Caps were doing everything right, but he continued to make save after save. Then on the power play in the second period, John Carlson struck the inside of the post, the horn went off and the roar of the crowd gave way to dismay as the referee waved his arms to indicate there was no goal and play continued. Just seconds later, T.J. Oshie gave the Caps the 1-0 lead.

You have to wonder if doubt was starting to creep into the back of the minds of the players when that puck struck the post as they wondered what else they had to do to beat Vasilevskiy. Luckily, that feeling didn’t last long.

3. Special teams

Braydon Coburn’s tripping penalty in the second period gave Washington its only power play of the night and its first since the second period of Game 4. They had to make it count given how well Vasilveskiy was playing and they did.

Washington now has a power play goal in each of their three wins against the Lightning and no power play goals in their three losses. So yeah, it’s significant.

Tampa Bay had two opportunities of their own, but Washington managed to kill off both power plays in the penalty kill’s best performance of the series.

4. Washington’s physical game plan

On paper, the Lightning are better than the Caps in most categories. One area in which Washington has the edge, however, is physical play and it was clear very early that they intended to use that to their advantage in Game 6. Tampa Bay was pushed around and they seemed to struggle to recover.

Ovechkin was a one-man wrecking ball out there hitting everything that moved. The energy he brought with every hit was palpable and both the team and the crowd fed on it.

Washington was credited with 39 hits on the night compared to Tampa Bay’s 19. Ovechkin had four of those as did Nicklas Backstrom while Devante Smith-Pelly contributed five and Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six.

5. Fourth line dagger

Tampa Bay’s fourth line was the story of Game 5, but Washington’s fourth line sealed the deal on Monday with its third period goal.

Chandler Stephenson beat out an icing call, forcing Braydon Coburn to play the puck along the wall. Jay Beagle picked it up, fed back to Stephenson who backhanded a pass for the perfect setup for Devante Smith-Pelly.

Smith-Pelly scored seven goals in the regular season. He now has four in the playoffs.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.