Chargers pull even at 4-4 at midpoint of season


Chargers pull even at 4-4 at midpoint of season

SAN DIEGO (AP) Norv Turner is still coaching the Chargers, perhaps to the chagrin of some fans, as San Diego pulled to 4-4 at the season's midpoint.

The Chargers were able to call off the hounds howling for Turner's job - at least for now - by beating the Kansas City Chiefs 31-13 Thursday night.

San Diego rediscovered the end zone, took advantage of four more turnovers by the sad-sack Chiefs and snapped a three-game losing streak that had riled up the paying customers to the point that the Chargers needed corporate support to lift the local TV blackout. Still, there were an estimated 15,000 empty seats.

Pregame speculation about his job security didn't seem to faze Turner, who's heard such talk for practically his entire Chargers tenure, which started in 2007.

``The one thing that's different now than I guess, I don't know, when this all started, but if someone says something on the radio or TV, or in an interview, that it becomes fact,'' Turner said. ``Sometimes it's fact and sometimes it isn't. That was not my concern going into the game.''

As for the person who started the speculation about Turner's possible firing if the Chargers lost Thursday, ``There's a chance that he's wrong,'' the coach said pointedly.

Did the win save Turner's job?

``I don't think that was the case,'' he said. ``Obviously there's no evidence to say that it was, and I go on my relationship, my understanding of what we're doing. That's was not the issue for me.''

The team refused to make team President Dean Spanos available during a three-game losing streak that included the Chargers blowing double-digit, second-half leads in losses at New Orleans and at home to Denver. San Diego then lost 7-6 at Cleveland.

The Chargers broke a streak of six straight quarters without a touchdown when Antonio Gates caught a 14-yard scoring pass from Philip Rivers to cap the game's first drive Thursday night.

Half of San Diego's wins are against Kansas City (1-7). The Chiefs committed 10 of their NFL-high 29 turnovers in their two games against the Chargers.

San Diego has yet to beat a team with a winning record.

Running back Ronnie Brown said the Chargers didn't feel like they were playing for Turner's job.

``That wasn't even an option,'' he said. ``Like losing yesterday, when we were talking in the locker room, nobody wanted to deal with that feeling we've had with the last few weeks. We all just wanted to do whatever it took to get another win. That's all we talked about during the week. Fortunately, we were able to carry that over into the game.''

At halftime, some fans in one end zone unfurled a big yellow banner that read: ``Mr. Spanos, please fire A.J. & Norv.''

Spanos decided in January to bring back both Turner and general manager A.J. Smith even though the Chargers missed the playoffs for the second straight year and have only one postseason win in four seasons.

Brown said players hear the fans talk about wanting Turner and Smith fired.

``Definitely. That's something, just being here and being in San Diego, being around the media, you're going to see it, you're going to hear it, no matter how much you try to avoid it,'' he said. ``You really can't listen to it. One of the things when we signed up, when everybody signed their contracts to be a San Diego Charger, we all took the responsibility to make sure you look out for one another and try to make sure that within that locker room, we were all trying to support each other no matter what we were going through or no matter what kind of adversity we were facing. It's was tough to be in the situation we were the last few weeks knowing that we have the potential and the people on the team to win, but for some odd reason we didn't get it done the last few weeks. Everybody had the same mentality, same focus and same goal in mind, to get that fourth win.''

Are the Chargers happy to be 4-4?

``You know the answer to that,'' Turner said. ``Obviously getting the win was big. I'm disappointed in the fact that the games I've mentioned, that we played at a high level through extended periods of the game, but were not able to finish games or made the big mistakes that kept us from winning games.''


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Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

Redskins schedule preview: Week 16 vs. Titans

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Titans. 

Week 16 December 22 or 23, Nissan Stadium (the date of the game will be determined no later than Week 8 in early November)

2017 Titans: 9-7, Second in AFC South, lost in the divisional round 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 8

Early line: Redskins +5.5

Key additions: CB Malcolm Butler, DT Bennie Logan, RB Dion Lewis

Key losses: DT Sylvester Williams, RB DeMarco Murray

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Marcus Mariota improved from his rookie year and had a solid 2016. But he regressed last season. In which direction is his career headed?
  • After head coach Mike Mularkey took the Titans to the second round of the playoffs he was summarily fired. Will they regret making to switch to Mike Vrabel?

Series history

The all-time series between the two teams is tied a 6-6; the teams split six games when the franchise was the Houston Oilers and they have gong 3-3 since the move to Tennessee. 

Series notables

The first time: October 10, 1971, RFK Stadium—The Redskins offense didn’t score a touchdown but that often didn’t matter when George Allen was the head coach as they still won 22-13. Washington’s scoring came on five Curt Knight field goals and on an 18-yard interception return by defensive end Ron McDole. That touchdown came on one of five takeaways by the Redskins defense. 

The last time: October 19, 2014, FedEx Field—Quarterback Kirk Cousins was struggling in the first half, losing a fumble and throwing a head-scratching interception. With the Redskins trailing the 2-4 Titans 10-6, Jay Gruden decided it was time for a change and Colt McCoy came in to play QB in the second half. 

Things clicked immediately as McCoy threw a short pass to Pierre Garçon, who turned upfield and rolled in for a 70-yard touchdown. It was back and forth in the second half and the Redskins were trailing 17-16 when they got the ball on their own 20 with 3:14 to play. McCoy led a 10-play drive that consumed all of the remaining time and culminated in a 22-yard Kai Forbath field goal to win it 19-17. 

The best time: November 3, 1991, RFK Stadium—To win nine straight NFL games to start out a season, you need solid blocking, accurate passing, hard-hitting tackling, inspired play calling, crisp execution and, as was the case today, a little bit of luck. Chip Lohmiller kicked a 41-yard field goal for Washington to give the Redskins a 16-13 overtime win over Houston. Darrell Green’s interception at the Houston 33 set up the kick. All of that, however, would not have happened if not for Oiler placekicker Ian Howfield. 

After Houston tied the game on a one-yard run by Lorenzo White with 1:42 left in the game, Brian Mitchell fumbled the ensuing kickoff, giving the Oilers prime field position. Howfield came in for a 33-yard field goal attempt with one second left. It appeared that the winning streak would end at eight. “You don’t exactly give up, but you’re not far from it,” said Andre Collins. 

The snap was perfect as was the hold, but Howfield’s kick was wide right. 

On Houston’s second offensive play of overtime, Oiler quarterback Warren Moon got bumped as he threw an out pass and Green picked it off. Three Ernest Byner runs preceded Lohmiller’s game-ending kick. 

The worst time: October 30, 1988, Astrodome—Washington entered the contest riding a three-game winning streak and appeared to be rounding into form to defend their Super Bowl title. Warren Moon threw three touchdown passes to Drew Hill, however, and the Redskins took a 41-17 whipping that wasn’t even as close as the final score would indicate.

Redskins schedule series

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page,  and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS  and on Instagram @RichTandler

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NBA Draft 2018: Maryland basketball's Justin Jackson drafted by Nuggets, traded to Magic

USA Today Sports

NBA Draft 2018: Maryland basketball's Justin Jackson drafted by Nuggets, traded to Magic

Maryland basketball had two players drafted in one night for the second time in three years Thursday night when the Denver Nuggets picked Justin Jackson with the No. 43 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Jackson was subsequently traded to the Orlando Magic as part of a deal that brought the No. 41 overall pick, Kentucky's Jarred Vanderbilt, to Denver.

After his freshman season, in which he averaged 10.5 points and six rebounds a game while shooting 43.8 percent from beyond the arc, Jackson declared for the draft without an agent, but elected to return to Maryland for his sophomore season. But he'd play just 11 games before being shutdown for the year with a torn labrum. His draft stock was hurt, but obviously not totally erased.

He had surgery in January and ended up being the first Terp to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft back in March. Though Jackson's recovery kept him out of the NBA Combine, teams were still intrigued by what they'd seen from him in the past to be willing to take a flyer.

A 6-foot-7 forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Jackson has the skill to play anywhere between the two or the four in the NBA, and the length to guard all kinds of players.

With Kevin Huerter headed to the last-place Atlanta Hawks, Maryland basketball's two draftees are slated to join last season's two worst teams in the Eastern Conference.