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Carroll and Bush meet again as Seattle faces Miami

Carroll and Bush meet again as Seattle faces Miami

RENTON, Wash. (AP) When Reggie Bush got his chance to face Pete Carroll in the NFC playoffs two seasons ago, he couldn't wait. It was the opportunity to show off before his former college coach when injuries in the New Orleans backfield left Bush as the featured back.

Then Bush carried the ball just five times and was left watching Carroll celebrate the Seahawks' upset victory of the then-defending Super Bowl champs.

Sunday will be Bush's first chance at getting even when Miami hosts Carroll's Seahawks.

``We had a lot of games together and played a lot of football. It's always great to go against our old guys, and nothing different than this one,'' Carroll said. ``We'll try and tackle the heck out of him if we can corral him, but he is a very special football player and it still shows.''

Bush and Carroll will always be linked for their time at USC when the Trojans were the most dominant team in college football. Bush was the speeding blur that couldn't be stopped and Carroll the buzzing leader on the sideline.

They'll also be forever linked by the subsequent NCAA probe into improper gifts Bush's family received during his time playing at USC, and the eventual decision Bush made to return his 2005 Heisman Trophy.

Since Carroll returned to the NFL before the start of the 2010 season, the contact between the two has been limited. The Seahawks played New Orleans twice during the 2010 season - Bush missed the regular-season game - and this will be the first time the pair will face off since that playoff game best remembered for the running of Seattle's Marshawn Lynch and not anything Bush did.

``I'm looking for getting a win. That's what I'm looking forward to,'' Bush said. I'm not so much worried about who's on the other side of the field.''

Bush is being used in a far different manner than the last time Carroll schemed against his former star. When the Seahawks prepared to face the Saints in the playoffs, they saw formations specifically designed to get Bush available in open space, trying to get him in as many one-on-one situations with linebackers and safeties as possible.

With the Dolphins, Bush has been the featured back, being asked to use his speed on the perimeter but also to run between the tackles. Bush's season started strongly, but in the last three weeks he has a combined 24 carries for 82 yards during the Dolphins' three-game losing streak.

``Everybody is staying upbeat. Guys know we still have a lot of football to play and we're not out of this thing yet,'' Bush said. ``I haven't seen anybody falling off the map. Everybody has been pretty upbeat.''

Carroll believes Bush has matured as a runner, no longer just rushing as fast as he can to the line of scrimmage, but displaying more patience for running lanes to open up.

``Reggie has really found his tempo coming to the line of scrimmage and seeing things and using his quickness and darting and using his quickness into open spaces. He looks like a more mature runner now,'' Carroll said. ``He used to run it up in there as fast as he could and hit it hard and it wasn't to his advantage all the time in his career, but he's really on it now.''

This might not be the best week for Bush and the Dolphins' struggling run game to try and get restarted. Seattle is third in the NFL in total defense and 10th in run defense, giving up just 100.6 yards per game on the ground. Only San Francisco, with Frank Gore, and Minnesota, with Adrian Peterson, have been able to top 100 yards rushing as a team against the Seahawks this season.

And Seattle will have back versatile outside linebacker K.J. Wright after he missed most of the last two games with a concussion.

``Defensively they bring a lot of pressure and exotic fronts and create turnovers, and making plays when they have to, and winning games when they have to,'' Bush said. ``That's kind of coach Carroll's signature.''

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AP Sports Writer Steven Wine in Davie, Fla., contributed to this story.

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Mystics win fourth straight, beat Sky 81-74

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USA Today Sports Images

Mystics win fourth straight, beat Sky 81-74

 In their second victory against the Chicago Sky this season, Elena Delle Donne dominated once again.

In 33 minutes of play, the star forward racked up 22 points, seven rebounds and 9 of 15 field goals against her former team. She led the Mystics in points and rebounds. 

Tianna Hawkins brought a spark off the bench, tallying 15 points, four rebounds, six of ten field goals and a +11 differential in just 18 minutes of play. 

The Mystics won all four games on this road trip, tying their season-high win streak from earlier this season. Washington is now 8-3 as they head home to host the Connecticut Sun, who just snapped a seven-game win streak.

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Free Agency Bracket: Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

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NBC Sports Washington

Free Agency Bracket: Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

It is almost time for NHL free agency to begin and the Capitals certainly have needs to fill and a limited budget. Who would be the best fit? Who would be the best free agent target for Washington to pursue? That’s what NBC Sports Washington wants to find out!

Our experts got together and made a bracket of the 16 best free agent fits. The bracket is divided into four regions: Third line forward, fourth line forward, depth defenseman and Caps’ free agent. Now we want you to tell us who you want to see rocking the red next year!

Every weekday we will match two free agents up against one another and present a case for each player. Then you get to vote and decide who advances!

Check out today’s semifinal matchup:

Joonas Donskoi vs. Carl Gunnarsson

2018-19 stats

Joonas Donskoi (27 years old): 80 games played for the San Jose Sharks, 14 goals, 23 assists, 37 points, 13:25 TOI

Playoffs: 12 games played for the San Jose Sharks, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, 12:26 TOI

Carl Gunnarsson (32 years old): 25 games played with the St. Louis Blues, 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, 15:15 TOI

Playoffs: 19 games played with the St. Louis Blues, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, 14:57 TOI, won Stanley Cup

Hockey-Graph contract projections 

Joonas Donskoi: 3 years, $2,847,521 cap hit

Carl Gunnarsson: 1 year, $731,159 cap hit

The case for Joonas Donskoi

Maybe Andre Burakovsky’s qualifying offer of $3.25 million means he’s back with the Capitals for another year. But it doesn’t preclude a trade and in Donskoi you’d have a similar option at a cheaper price, which matters if you only have $9.2 million in cap space left for now.

Donskoi made the offense better in San Jose in whatever role he was asked to play. He can go up and down the lineup and had a consistency to his game that Burakovsky at times lacks. Donskoi’s stats may not always reflect that, but making his teammates around him better is a valuable asset. Either way, depth scoring is important and a priority for the Capitals. 

Donskoi has every bit the Stanley Cup playoff experience as Burakovsky does if that matters to you. Donskoi has nine goals and 12 assists in 50 playoff games and Burakovsky has nine goals and nine assists in 56 playoff games. Not much to chose between the team except Donskoi would be cheaper if Washington decided to trade Burakovsky. 

The case for Carl Gunnarsson

The Caps will need a No. 6/7 defenseman after Brooks Orpik retired on Tuesday. Yes, they gave a qualifying offer to RFA defenseman Christian Djoos and they have Jonas Siegenthaler under contract, too. Both are natural left side defensemen. Going with the kids is an option. But both of them? That becomes problematic when someone gets hurt in your top two pairings and players have to bump up. 

Gunnarsson was the hero of the “Boston Pee Party” when he scored the overtime winner in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final after declaring to head coach Craig Berube at the urinal he just needed one more opportunity. Gunnarsson had just seven points in the regular season so no one should expect a ton of offense, but the point is he delivered when it mattered most.

When he is not playing the overtime hero, he is a third-pairing, stay at home defenseman who can play on the penalty kill which is pretty much exactly what the Caps need in a depth defenseman.

Take a look at Gunnarsson’s contract projection. You can’t beat that price. Sure, those projections came out before he won the Stanley Cup, but even if his price goes up, it will not be significant. You’re tinkering at the margins of the roster here and championship experience matters. 

Who’s your pick? Vote here:

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