Nationals

Colts trying to forget mistakes, focus on future

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Colts trying to forget mistakes, focus on future

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indianapolis Colts have spent most of this season doing many things well.

On Monday, the Colts were mulling over what went wrong in Houston.

``Obviously we left points on the field with the fumble on the goal line and then the penalty on the touchdown pass,'' interim coach Bruce Arians said.

From blocking breakdowns to missed tackles, turnovers to blocked punts, there was plenty of blame to go around in the aftermath of Sunday's 29-17 loss to the Texans, a defeat that allowed the Texans to wrap up their second straight AFC South and prevented Indy from clinching an improbable playoff berth.

The film sessions made this week's mission perfectly clear: Show the rest of the league that the mistake-prone team everyone saw in Houston will not be the same one that arrives in Kansas City this week or, presumably, in the playoffs - if Indy can get that elusive 10th victory.

Sure, J.J. Watt made things tough on rookie Andrew Luck and the Colts' offense, receiver Andre Johnson went over 100 yards and Arian Foster topped the 160-yard mark against Indy yet again.

But the biggest problems for Indy were self-inflicted.

Mewelde Moore fumbled the ball at the Texans 1-yard line in the first half. A holding penalty on Kellen Heard nullified Reggie Wayne's acrobatic double toe-tap for what would have been a touchdown. And Dwayne Allen whiffed on a block in punt protection, allowing Houston to block the kick and return it for a score.

``I was set too far back,'' Allen said Monday. ``The kick I had was perfect for pass protection but not for a punt.''

While Indy (9-5) has been far from perfect this season, it's rarely made this many costly errors in one game.

That's why the Colts have won a league-high eight times in one-possession games and Luck has rallied his team six times in the fourth quarter, an NFL rookie record.

This time, the luck ran out and the Colts are forced to make quick fixes - a process complicated by a long list of injuries.

Arians has already ruled out running back Delone Carter (ankle), starting linebacker Kavell Conner (hamstring), starting center Samson Satele (ankle) and starting safety Tom Zbikowski (knee) against the Chiefs (2-12).

The biggest concern, though, is the banged-up offensive line. Watt finished with 10 tackles, three sacks and six tackles for loss against Indy's makeshift unit that will be scrambling to find even more bodies this week.

Right tackle Winston Justice (biceps) sat out against the Texans and Arians couldn't say whether Justice would make it back this week. Satele's backup, A.Q. Shipley, limped off the field with a right knee injury with 28 seconds left Sunday and may not be able to play, either.

If both centers are out, right guard Mike McGlynn will move over and try to help protect Luck, who has already been sacked 37 times this season and taken dozens of more hits.

``As athletic as he is, he's taking some of them himself and it's not all protection,'' Arians said. ``As long as he's on the move and he's getting sacked, he's probably not in harm's way. When he gets drilled right to the face in the middle of the pocket, those are the ones you worry about.''

But as bad as Sunday's game looked, it was not nearly as lopsided on the field.

Indy trailed just 23-17 when it got the ball back with 13:31 left to play, then went three-and-out and allowed Houston to drive for a 46-yard field goal that made it a nine-point game.

Foster didn't top 100 yards until Houston's final possession, and despite all of the miscues, Luck still had a chance to rally the Colts late.

``I think all the guys, including myself, are going to be very critical of what they did, realize that if we want to become a better team, we are going to have to hopefully eliminate the mistakes that we made in this game,'' Luck said.

The veterans concur.

While they applauded Allen and others for taking the blame for some of the miscues, defensive linemen Dwight Freeney and Cory Redding are looking toward the future and a second chance to clinch a playoff spot this week in Kansas City.

``It's one week and whatever happened that one week, doesn't matter for the next, whether we win or lose,'' Freeney said. ``You just learn from the mistakes in a win and in a loss and just move on to that next week and that is the most important game.''

Note: Arians said he's still hoping head coach Chuck Pagano will return for the Dec. 30 regular-season finale against Houston but acknowledged that is ``up in the air.'' He said the Colts could know something definitive later this week and that they could have him back full time at the team complex next Monday. Arians said his longtime friend ``feels great'' and ``looks good'' and that his is white-blood cell counts are good.

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Howie Kendrick’s 6 best moments of the 2019 season

Howie Kendrick’s 6 best moments of the 2019 season

The Nationals took a significant step in building their roster for the 2020 season Friday when they reportedly re-signed Howie Kendrick to a one-year, $6.25 million deal with a mutual option for 2021.

Kendrick was limited to just 121 games during the regular season but played an important role for the team in the playoffs with some hits that will forever live in Nationals lore.

But Kendrick wasn’t just a clutch hitter in the playoffs. His 1.135 OPS in “late and close” situations—defined by Baseball-Reference as any situation in the seventh inning or later where a hitter’s team is either up by one, tied or the tying run is on deck—ranked second on the team among players with at least 30 such plate appearances last season.

Washington is bringing back the 36-year-old with hopes that he can continue to come through in key moments as his career winds down. But even if he doesn’t, Kendrick has cemented his Nationals legacy.

Here are six of his best moments from the 2019 season.

April 13 – Eaton, Kendrick spoil Archer’s big day

Chris Archer has had an up-and-down tenure with the Pittsburgh Pirates since being acquired in a blockbuster trade midway through the 2018 season. His best start of the year, however, came against the Nationals on April 13.

Archer held Washington one run on four hits over seven innings, handing the game over to the Pirates’ bullpen with a 2-1 lead. Reliever Richard Rodriguez retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth before Adam Eaton came to the plate.

That’s when the pendulum swung, as Eaton left the yard only for Kendrick to do so a few minutes later. Sean Doolittle closed the door in the top of the ninth and the Nationals moved to 7-6 on the year.

May 9 – Kendrick drives in four against the Dodgers

Patrick Corbin may have been the story in this one by blanking the Los Angeles Dodgers over seven strong frames, but it was also one of Kendrick’s best games of the year.

His big hit didn’t come late, however. Kendrick took Rich Hill deep for a three-run homer in the top of the first to set the tone early. He then hit an RBI single with two runners on in the eighth before the Nationals eventually won 6-0.

June 9 – Kendrick hits the first of four straight homers

It was a 1-1 game when Kendrick came to the plate in the top of the eighth against the San Diego Padres on June 9. So naturally he saw a curveball heading for the center of the plate and pulled it into the left field seats for a go-ahead home run.

What followed was absolute madness. Trea Tuner homered. Then Eaton did. Then Anthony Rendon. It was the second time the Nationals went back-to-back-to-back-to-back in team history and more than enough to give Washington the win.

NLDS Game 5 – The greatest moment in Nationals history, for a few weeks

“Do you believe it!?”

That was the radio call Dave Jageler made when Kendrick hit a go-ahead grand slam in the 10th inning. It was the moment that delivered the Nationals’ first postseason series winning, putting to bed a history of disappointment for the franchise.

It was the single-most important hit any Nationals player ever had. That is, until a certain World Series game a few weeks later…

NLCS Game 3 – Kendrick hits three doubles en route to NLCS MVP honors

There was no way a list like this could be put together without a nod toward Kendrick’s NLCS performance. He reached base seven times in the series, driving in four runs and scoring another four of his own. But by far his best game came in Game 3.

The Nationals returned to D.C. with a 2-0 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals and treated their fans to a blowout 8-1 win. Kendrick smacked three doubles, including a two-run, opposite-field gap plugger off Jack Flaherty in the bottom of the third that gave Washington a 4-0 lead.

World Series Game 7 – You know the one

When that ball clanked off the foul pole down the right field line, it changed the lives of D.C. sports fans forever. The magical run had one last bit of magic left, and of course it came courtesy of the man who gave the fan base real hope in the first place.

Kendrick is back for another run in 2020. The Nationals? They’re hoping his magic hasn’t run out just yet.

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How Ed Reed pulled off one of the best plays that Bill Belichick has ever seen

How Ed Reed pulled off one of the best plays that Bill Belichick has ever seen

Bill Belichick has seen a lot of football. A lot.

The New England Patriots head coach certainly knows what he's talking about and he didn't hold back when talking about Baltimore Ravens legend Ed Reed.

On a segment for NFL 100, Reed and Belichick recalled one of the former safety's interception against Manning, a play that Belichick called "one of the greatest plays I've ever seen."

Just listen to how giddy Belichick got talking about the play. 

Reed said he purposefully misplayed a certain coverage so that when Manning watched the film to prepare for the next game, Reed could fake him out the next time.

Manning became an all-time great because of his cerebral approach to football, so it's no hyperbole to say more men have walked on the moon than have outsmarted Peyton Manning on the gridiron. Reed is one of the few players to do so and became a Hall of Famer for playing that way his whole career.

Reed knew the entire time where the ball was going and made Manning look foolish for making that throw.

That's the stuff of legends.

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