Redskins

Football game brings some relief from storm damage

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Football game brings some relief from storm damage

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Courtney Davis has no idea what her house looks like because her town of Sea Bright was washed away by Superstorm Sandy.

Yet she was at the Meadowlands on Sunday when the Steelers beat the Giants 24-20.

``We need this,'' Davis said. ``We could really use this game and having a good time.''

Davis and many other fans tailgating outside MetLife Stadium said they were thankful NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell did not postpone the game or order it moved to Pittsburgh. And Goodell stopped by to do some tailgating himself, then meet on the field and congratulate first responders, calling them ``heroes.''

Asked about concerns for playing the game, Goodell said:

``I sure didn't hear that here. I didn't hear it out in the parking lot. In fact, exactly the opposite of that ... `we want to be able to get away from what we have been dealing with all week for a while' and a couple of guys said, `This re-energized us. We're ready to go back.'

``That's a nice sense.''

The game was never in real danger of being called off, unlike Sunday's New York City Marathon that was canceled on Friday after growing public pressure.

Given the gas shortage in the state - New Jersey has implemented a rationing program - and a depleted mass transit available, the Giants urged fans to carpool to the stadium. In their conversation before the weekend, Goodell was assured by Gov. Chris Christie that the game wouldn't divert any major resources from relief efforts.

Giants coach Tom Coughlin emphasized how important the game was - and how upsetting the defeat was.

``That's as disappointing a loss as we've had in a long time,'' he said. ``Not to be overly reactionary or emotional, to play against a very good football team like that ... we wanted emotionally to win the game so badly for obvious reasons, for our neighbors who are struggling, who needed some type of inspiration and we didn't provide it.''

Davis described a beach town that looked more like the desert, with sand dunes piled 8 feet high and bulldozers trying to level them ``just like you see in a blizzard.''

``Debris everywhere,'' she added. ``We have no idea when we can go back.''

Earlier in the week, seeing Steelers-Giants didn't enter her thoughts. But as the weekend began, she decided the Meadowlands was the right place to be.

So while the parking lots filled up and smoke rose from barbecues, people who lost power but not resolve found their way to a football game. And to each other.

``I think there's a sense of release, to take your mind off it,'' said Tara Brewster of Staten Island, the New York City borough devastated by the hurricane and its aftermath. ``If they changed this game to another day, I really wouldn't have been upset, but everyone is coming together. New York is the kind of city that handles everything.''

Jim Turbek had 30 inches of water in his basement, even though he lives nowhere near the shore. He went to the game.

``The water was coming in waves,'' Turbek recalled about a canal overflowing near his home. ``We probably lost all our appliances, and my chimney fell in, too.''

Turbek never considered missing the game. His brother was a big Steelers fan, so Turbek wore a Steelers cap and said he was ``here because Steven would have come. It's good to get back into a routine.''

He waited 75 minutes for gas to make sure he could get to the Meadowlands and then home, a distance of 45 miles each way.

Ryan Plaza was not impacted by the storm in his hometown of Sugarloaf, Pa., but he brought 15 gallons of gas to his cousin in New Jersey, then headed to the stadium. Standing nearby was Roger Daly of Norwood, N.J., who has had season tickets since the Giants played in Yankee Stadium; they moved to New Jersey in 1976. His search for gas led him to the U.S. Military Academy, and then even farther north.

``I'm retired from the National Guard and went to West Point for gas, but they ran out,'' he said. ``So I kept going up the thruway and happened to find gas. I made a 60-mile trip each way to get gas.''

He was glad to be at the stadium, believing it delivers some sort of a message.

``We're Americans and we can handle anything,'' Daly said. ``I feel bad for everyone who got wiped out, but we have to live our lives like we always did. I still don't have telephone, Internet, but I'm here and this is a good release.''

As Kathleen Marzolla described the scene in Hoboken, N.J., which is on the Hudson River and was among the hardest hit places in the state, she got a text message that made her jump for joy. Literally.

``We've got power back. We've got power,'' she said as her brother, Kevin, pumped his fist.

Hoboken was a ghost town for portions of the week, with water everywhere, she said. Her friend's car was submerged in the overflow, and all the businesses in town were closed for much of the week. But on Sunday afternoon, she finally could smile again.

``We needed this today,'' she said.

Steelers fans seem to pop up at every road game the team plays and this one was no exception, despite the challenges. Shawn Morrow and Wayne Alling drove in from Pittsburgh, although they believed the game might get pushed back to Monday night. They were stunned by what they saw, Morrow describing areas they drove past in New Jersey as ``a war zone.''

``Huge trees uprooted, 50 people or more standing in line at a gas station with gas cans; no cars, but the cans,'' Morrow said.

``We didn't know about the rationing,'' Alling added. ``We have an odd number (license plate) and we weren't sure if we could gas.''

They did, and they were enjoying some barbecue in the parking lot, surrounded by thousands of others who found their way to the Meadowlands.

One of those people plunked a pumpkin on a car hood. On it, in black magic marker, was written ``We Will Survive.''

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AP Sports Writer Tom Canavan and freelancer Jim Hague contributed to this story.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.