Redskins

Fitzpatrick directs Bills' 34-18 win over Jaguars

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Fitzpatrick directs Bills' 34-18 win over Jaguars

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) Save the what-ifs for later. So long as Mario Williams and the Buffalo Bills are still mathematically in the playoff hunt, they're focused only on what's ahead and not on whatever opportunities they've squandered.

``What happened before is in the past, and we just have to keep pushing,'' the high-priced defensive end said. ``We are still there. Even though nobody else thinks of it that way, we do.''

Slim as their chances might be, the Bills (5-7) have hope for at least one more week after a 34-18 win over the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars (2-10) on Sunday.

``We still have games left,'' Williams said. ``Anything can happen.''

Everything went right for the Bills, who won for only the third time in nine games, while delivering a near-complete team victory.

Williams had one of Buffalo's four sacks, in which he forced Chad Henne's fumble, in helping key a defense that allowed 236 yards while stopping the Jaguars on three fourth-down chances.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw two touchdown passes and scored another rushing while directing five consecutive scoring drives. Fred Jackson had 109 yards rushing and C.J. Spiller scored on a 44-yard run.

And special teams contributed, as well, with Marcus Easley and Brad Smith combining for 93 yards on two kickoff returns, both of which set up touchdowns.

``We have a lot of belief in our locker room, and we are not in the most ideal situation. But we lose today's game, and we know we're out of it,'' Fitzpatrick said. ``We felt like this was one we should win, and needed to win.''

At 5-7, the Bills are tied with Miami and the New York Jets in chasing Indianapolis (8-4), Pittsburgh (7-5) and Cincinnati (7-5) for the AFC's two wild card playoff spots.

It's an altogether different story for the Jaguars (2-10), who are tied with Kansas City with the NFL's worst record.

A combination of familiar problems - injuries, a sputtering offense and porous defense - contributed to seal their latest loss. And they all cropped up a week after Jacksonville snapped a seven-game skid with a 24-19 win over Tennessee.

``We came up very short,'' said Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny, who spent his first four NFL seasons in Buffalo. ``If we would've fought as hard as we could and played our best ball and lost, that's one thing. But that was not the case.''

Henne went 18 of 41 for 208 yards with a lost fumble and interception in his worst outing in two-plus games since taking over for injured starter Blaine Gabbert.

The Jaguars defense, which entered the game ranked 31st in the NFL, surrendered 344 yards offense, including 232 rushing. And the injury count continues to rise after running back Rashad Jennings, who is starting in place of Maurice Jones-Drew and Jalen Parmele, and leading receiver Cecil Shorts III both sustained concussions.

This was not the homecoming Jaguars first-year head coach Mike Mularkey had in mind in facing his former team for the first time since he abruptly resigned in Buffalo in January 2006.

``I don't think we gave ourselves a chance to make it a game,'' Mularkey said. ``I thought after the last two weeks, we were really making progress.''

The Jaguars unraveled after Henne scored on a 1-yard run to put them ahead 10-7.

The Bills responded by scoring 27 points - three touchdowns and two field goals - on five consecutive possessions. The run began with Fitzpatrick's 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Scott Chandler with 1:56 left in the second quarter. And it ended with Spiller's touchdown run 1:31 into the fourth quarter.

In between, Fitzpatrick hit Stevie Johnson on a 13-yard touchdown pass, while Rian Lindell hit field goals from 29 and 50 yards.

The Bills showed resilience by overcoming a rash of injuries of their own. Johnson (left hamstring), center Eric Wood (left knee), right tackle Chris Hairston (right ankle) and cornerback/return specialist Leodis McKelvin (back) failed to finish the game.

``Chan challenged us during the week,'' Fitzpatrick said of coach Chan Gailey. ``He said we needed a team win. We needed all 11 guys. ... And I thought that's what we did today.''

NOTES: Fitzpatrick and Johnson have combined for 22 touchdowns, moving into a tie for fourth on the team list in joining Jim Kelly and Pete Metzelaars. ... Chandler's touchdown was his sixth of the season, matching the team's single-season record for tight ends shared by himself (2011), Metzelaars (1992) and Jay Riemersma (1998). ... The Jaguars squandered a chance to score 20 points in three straight games for the first time since a four-game streak in 2010.

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

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NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.