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Falcons' Ryan: Still confident after interceptions

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Falcons' Ryan: Still confident after interceptions

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hopes he never has to endure another five-interception game.

It might sound too simple, but Ryan considers last week's narrow victory over Arizona as a learning experience that could have ended much worse.

``I've got good players around me - that's the biggest part,'' Ryan said on Wednesday. ``I thought our defense played awesome last week. They kept us in it, and that's what it's all about. It's about winning games, but as a quarterback you need to do your part, too.''

Despite his career-high five picks, Ryan still helped the Falcons (9-1) squeak past the Cardinals to maintain a three-game lead over second-place Tampa Bay in the NFC South.

It wasn't easy to watch on film, particularly considering how many times Arizona tipped his passes and how often he threw to the wrong spot. Leaky protections hardly gave him much time to set his feet against blitzes up the middle.

``I've just got to find better passing lanes, and that's on me,'' Ryan said. ``I've done a good job of that in the past. I just didn't do a good job of that last week.''

Tampa Bay (6-4) has won four straight and five of its last six games, a streak that Ryan credits to the Bucs' ability to stuff the run and make an offense one-dimensional.

When the Falcons visit Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, their ground attack must overcome its ugly tendency to stall early in games and break down repeatedly in short-yardage and red-zone situations.

Against Arizona, Michael Turner's longest run was 10 yards, and Jacquizz Rodgers' longest was six. If the Falcons can reverse that trend this week, they must do so against the NFL's No. 1 run defense.

Atlanta averaged a paltry 2.6 yards per carry over the last two weeks in a loss at New Orleans, which has the league's worst run defense, and in a home win over Arizona, which ranks 21st.

Tampa Bay has two rookies, linebacker Lavonte David and strong safety Mark Barron, playing at a high level for a defense that leads the league with 87 negative plays, 59 negative runs and ranks sixth with 20 takeaways.

Falcons coach Mike Smith dismisses the poor numbers put up by the Bucs' pass defense - they rank last in the league - because opponents have been trailing Tampa Bay recently and have had to pass to try and catch up.

``They've been a very aggressive team in terms of stopping the run, and they're scoring a lot of points,'' Falcons coach Mike Smith said. ``The other thing shows up is that they're very good in the turnover ratio, but when they do create those turnovers, the offense is turning them into points. They're No. 1 in the league in terms of scoring touchdowns off turnovers.''

One reason the Bucs are tough up front: Their ends, Michael Bennett and Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, and tackles, Gerald McCoy and Roy Miller, are adept at confusing an offensive line just before the snap. They disguise looks by shifting to a different front after an opponent's center makes pass protection and run-blocking calls.

``It's our job to anticipate the shift and to know your job before the shift happens so you don't get stuck in no-man's land and not be sure if you're supposed to go left or right,'' Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo said. ``That's just part of our preparation this week and what we're going to have to overcome. On the road, it can be difficult to communicate.''

After Ryan's poor performance last week, the fifth-year veteran became the first NFL quarterback to throw five interceptions and no touchdowns in a victory since Green Bay's Bart Starr in 1967.

``If any quarterback has the right mentality for that, it's Matt,'' Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. ``His experience and the fact that it was very unusual. There were some unusual bounces. You've got to have a short memory. It's like the corner who gives up a touchdown.''

Smith credits Ryan's balanced approach - he doesn't get too fired up when the Falcons do something well and doesn't get too down when they struggle - with helping him stay focused.

``If it's a good play, you put it in the compartment and you move on to the next one,'' Smith said. ``If it's a bad play, it's the same thing. I think it just speaks volumes to be able to put things behind him and be very resilient. I think we've shown that as a football team a number of times this year.''

Ryan just wants to avoid making mistakes.

``You have to learn from things, but you have to be able to put them behind you, in the right way, and not let them take away as you move forward,'' he said. ``I think that I myself have done a good job of that, and I think our team has, too.

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Oral Roberts at Richmond College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Oral Roberts at Richmond College Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Winners of two straight, Richmond plays host to Oral Roberts to try and get a third consecutive victory.

The Golden Eagles, on the other hand, have lost three in a row and will be looking to get back to winning ways when they visit the Robins Center in Richmond, Va. on Saturday, Dec. 15.

Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m ET and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington Plus.

Oral Roberts at Richmond How to Watch

What: Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at Richmond Spiders
Where: Robins Center, Richmond, Va.
When: 4 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington Plus (Channel Finder)

Oral Roberts at Richmond Preview

Conference: Summit League (Oral Roberts), A-10 (Richmond)
Record: 3-9 (Oral Roberts), 4-5 (Richmond)
Last Game: 80-64 loss at Missouri 12/7 (Oral Roberts), 82-47 win vs. Coppin State, 12/5 (Richmond)
Leading Scorers: Emmanuel Nzekwesi, 15.1 ppg (Oral Roberts), Grant Golden, 19.9 ppg (Richmond)

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

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Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
 
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.