Nationals

Falcons still unbeaten after edging Raiders 23-20

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Falcons still unbeaten after edging Raiders 23-20

ATLANTA (AP) Asante Samuel won't be lingering over the Falcons' latest win.

He's already looking forward to his return to Philadelphia.

Samuel brought back an interception 79 yards for a touchdown in the closing minutes and Matt Bryant connected on a 55-yard field goal with 1 second remaining, lifting unbeaten Atlanta to a sloppy 23-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

As far as Samuel was concerned, it was a thing of beauty.

Especially his pick.

``You might go for your breakfast, you might go for your lunch,'' he said. ``But when you go for that dinner, you know deuce-deuce (22, his uniform number) has got to step up.''

Overcoming three interceptions by Matt Ryan, the Falcons (6-0) extended the best start in franchise history and became the NFL's only unbeaten team when Houston lost to Green Bay. But they'll have plenty to work on during their bye week.

``Even when you win, there's still a long laundry list of things you've got to do better,'' coach Mike Smith said.

The Falcons' next game is Oct. 28 at Philadelphia, where they'll face former Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick and Samuel will get a chance to go against the team he played for the last four seasons. He was traded to the Falcons during the offseason.

``They love me,'' Samuel quipped. ``They're going to scream when I come out of that tunnel. Philly, y'all better scream when I come out of that tunnel!''

The pesky Raiders (1-4) bounced back from Samuel's pick to tie the game with less than a minute to go, but left a little too much time on the clock for Atlanta's final possession.

Ryan completed four short passes, the last of them a 13-yarder to Tony Gonzalez that got Bryant in range for his longest field goal since joining the Falcons in 2009 - and his second game-winning kick in three weeks. He beat the Panthers 30-28 on a 40-yard field goal with 5 seconds left.

``He knows how to get himself prepared, how to calm himself down, how to get it through those pipes,'' Ryan said. ``He's made a lot of clutch kicks for us through the years.''

Bryant actually missed one early, pulling a 43-yarder wide left to break a streak of 23 consecutive field goals going back to last season. He bounced back to connect from 41 and 20 yards before making the one that really mattered.

After a mostly ugly game, the final 3 minutes were thrilling. Tied at 13, the Raiders were in position for a go-ahead field goal when Samuel stepped in front of Carson Palmer's pass at the Atlanta 21 and returned it for a touchdown, racing to the end zone right in front of the Falcons' bench.

Palmer shook off that huge mistake, leading the Raiders down the field for the tying score. He connected with Derek Hagan on a 38-yard pass to the Atlanta 5, and Darren McFadden scored on a 2-yard run with 40 seconds left.

``You don't want to tell your back to take a knee,'' Raiders rookie coach Dennis Allen said. ``We wanted to use up as much time as we possibly could, and unfortunately we gave them a little bit too much.''

Ryan finished 24 of 37 for 249 yards and equaled his career high for picks, matching the three he had against New Orleans in 2009.

But, again, he came through with the game on the line.

``We've been in these situations before,'' Ryan said. ``We know what we need to do.''

Palmer was 23 of 33 for 353 yards, putting up much better rating than Ryan. But the Raiders quarterback was kicking himself for that one devastating play: the pick by Samuel.

``Put the blame on me,'' Palmer said. ``It's completely my fault.''

Ryan came into the game with three interceptions in the first five weeks. He doubled his total by halftime. Joselio Hanson picked one off over the middle. Michael Huff snatched another away on a deep throw. And Tyvon Branch grabbed a fluttering ball after Ryan was hit as he threw.

The Raiders seized on Branch's interception. Palmer flipped a short pass to Denarius Moore, who took it all the way to the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown that gave Oakland a 13-7 lead at halftime.

John Abraham had a huge day on the Falcons' defense. He sacked Palmer three times and gave Atlanta's sputtering offense a chance to retake the lead in the third when he stripped the ball from the quarterback just before his right arm came forward. Ray Edwards scooped up the fumble and rumbled to the Oakland 2.

But the Raiders held. Jason Snelling was thrown for a 2-yard loss on third-and-goal from inside the 1, forcing Atlanta to settle for Bryant's 20-yard field goal that tied the game at 13.

NOTES: Smith improved his career record to 49-21, tying Dan Reeves as the winningest coach in team history. ... The Raiders rushed for 149 yards, more than double their NFL-worst average. But McFadden had another tough day, averaging 2.6 yards on 27 carrries. ... One week after making 13 catches against the Redskins, Gonzalez was held to four receptions for 42 yards.

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

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USA TODAY Sports

Soto makes debut in Nationals loss to Dodgers

WASHINGTON  -- Kike Hernandez and Yasiel Puig each hit two-run homers, and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 7-2 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Hernandez's blast off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning put the Dodgers up 3-2. Yasmani Grandal also homered off Strasburg (5-4), who allowed three runs and five hits over 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts.

Alex Wood (1-4) pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and two earned runs. Wood came out to start the seventh, but returned to the clubhouse after showing some discomfort during his warm-up tosses.

Trea Turner homered for Washington, which swept Arizona last weekend and then went five days without playing a full game because of rain before getting swept by the Dodgers.

Los Angeles, after losing six consecutive games, has now won four straight overall and five of six over Washington this season.

Washington's Juan Soto, at 19 the youngest active player in the majors, made his debut in the eighth as a pinch-hitter and struck out against Erik Goeddel.

The Dodgers added two runs in the ninth. Josh Fields recorded the final four outs for his second save of the season.

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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

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George McPhee's Vegas Golden Knights advance to Stanley Cup Final

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Ryan Reaves scored the winning goal, Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights pushed their remarkable expansion season into the Stanley Cup Final, beating the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Sunday in Game 5 of the Western Conference final.

Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights. They lost Game 1 in Winnipeg before winning four straight to become the first expansion team since the 1968 St. Louis Blues -- when the six initial expansion teams were put alone in the West -- to get to the final.

Vegas will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Washington Capitals in the final. Tampa Bay leads the Eastern Conference final 3-2, with Game 6 set for Monday night in Washington.

Josh Morrissey scored for the Jets, and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves.

Reaves, the bruising Winnipeg native acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins before to the trade deadline in February, snapped a 1-1 tie with 6:39 left in the second period when he tipped Luca Sbisa's point shot past Hellebuyck for his first goal of the playoffs.

Winnipeg got a power play early in the third, but couldn't muster much of anything. The Knights smothered much of the Jets' attack for the next 10 minutes, with Hellebuyck having to come up with big stops on William Karlsson and Eric Haula to keep his team within one.

The Jets pressed with under 4 minutes to go, with Fleury stopping captain Blake Wheeler on the doorstep, but it wasn't nearly enough as the Knights closed out their third straight series on the road.

The Jets beat the Knights 4-2 in Game 1, but Vegas snatched home ice with a 3-1 victory in Game 2 before picking up 4-2 and 3-2 wins at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, whose jaw-dropping inaugural 109-point campaign included a Pacific Division crown, swept the Los Angeles Kings in the first round, and knocked out the San Jose Sharks in six games.

The Jets had the NHL's second-best record with 114 points in the regular season. They advanced to the first conference final in city's history with a five-game victory over the Minnesota Wild in the opening round before topping the Presidents' Trophy-winning Nashville Predators in Game 7 on the road.

The usual raucous, white-clad crowd at Bell MTS Place -- not to mention the thousands of fans outside the arena attending a street party on a sun-drenched spring afternoon -- were silenced just 5:11 into Game 5 when Tuch jumped on Morrissey's turnover and fired his sixth past Hellebuyck.

The Jets were tentative to start and it got worse after the opener as Vegas dominated the next couple of shifts, forcing some good saves from Hellebuyck before Winnipeg got its feet moving.

After being outshot 7-1 in the first 7 minutes, the Jets finally pushed back and turned the tide with the next nine attempts on goal, culminating with Morrissey making amends for his early gaffe with 2:46 left in the period.

Bryan Little won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight back to second-year defenseman, who blasted his first career playoff goal past Fleury's glove.

One of Winnipeg's downfalls in the series through four games was an inability to maintain momentum. The Knights scored within 1:28 of a Jets' goal in each of the first four games -- a crushing 12 seconds after Winnipeg tied Game 3, and an equally gut-wrenching 43 seconds after the Jets knotted Game 4 -- but they managed to take the game to the locker rooms tied 1-1.

Both teams had chances in the second period before Reaves made it 2-1, with Jets center Mathieu Perrault just missing on a pass from Little that had too much speed.

Right after Reaves scored the second playoff goal of his career -- and first since 2015 with St. Louis -- Winnipeg's Nikolaj Ehlers rang a shot off the post on Fleury.

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