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Cardinals lose out on McCoy, eye Seattle's Bevell

Cardinals lose out on McCoy, eye Seattle's Bevell

PHOENIX (AP) The Arizona Cardinals' list of potential coaches lost a name when the San Diego Chargers hired Mike McCoy.

Now the Cardinals are going to take a look at Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, reportedly setting up an interview with the man who provided the game plan that led to the Seahawks' 58-0 victory over Arizona.

The other known candidates to replace the fired Ken Whisenhunt are Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

With the exception of Horton, the candidates are rooted in offense and that's the Cardinals' area of greatest need. Arizona had the worst offense in the NFL last season.

Bevell, who also is in the running for the Chicago Bears' job, played a key role in the development of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. The tandem of Bevell and Wilson, who both played college ball at Wisconsin, helped the Seahawks' offense become more potent as the season progressed.

Seattle put together an impressive rally before losing 30-28 at Atlanta in the NFC semifinals last weekend.

Bevell, 43, has local roots. He grew up in Scottsdale, and attended Chaparral High. He spent a redshirt freshman season at Northern Arizona before leaving for a two-year Mormon mission. When Bevell returned, he enrolled at Wisconsin and quarterbacked the Badgers to a Rose Bowl victory over UCLA in 1994.

He joined the professional coaching ranks in 2000 as an offensive assistant in Green Bay and was promoted to quarterbacks coach of the Packers three years later. Bevell served as the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings from 2006 to 2010. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll brought him in as offensive coordinator in 2011.

The Cardinals obviously had high interest in McCoy, interviewing him in Denver over the Broncos' bye weekend in the first round of the playoffs. They wanted a second interview, but were thwarted when the Chargers closed the deal.

It was the second time a would-be candidate was taken away. Cardinals President Michael Bidwill had reached out to fired Philadelphia coach Andy Reid but never even got a chance to interview him because the Kansas City Chiefs moved in quickly to secure an agreement.

Whisenhunt, who has interviewed for several NFL head coaching jobs since his dismissal, was fired by Arizona after six seasons, tied for the longest tenure for a coach in the Cardinals' long, mostly losing history. He got the team to the Super Bowl in his second season and won a second straight NFC West title the following year, but quarterback Kurt Warner retired and the team's offense never recovered.

The Cardinals used four quarterbacks this season. Only Kevin Kolb had much success, helping the team to a 4-0 start before going down in week six with what proved to be a season-ending rib injury. Kolb threw for eight touchdowns with three interceptions. The other three QBs - John Skelton, rookie Ryan Lindley, and late-season pickup Brian Hoyer combined for three TDs and 18 picks.

Arizona went six games without a touchdown pass, losing 11 of its last 12 to finish 5-11.

Arizona also fired general manager Rod Graves, promoting Steve Keim, the vice president for player personnel, to fill the vacancy.

Horton, who also interviewed for the jobs in Buffalo and Cleveland before those teams went elsewhere for a coach, has a year left on his contract as defensive coordinator and presumably would return to that job if he doesn't get the head coaching position.

The Cardinals have confirmed interviews with Horton and Gruden but not with Haley, although Steelers President Art Rooney II told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the interview did take place.

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Follow Bob Baum at www.twitter.com/Thebaumerphx

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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.