Nationals

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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Mike Rizzo: Max Scherzer's season performance thus far is 'historical'

Mike Rizzo: Max Scherzer's season performance thus far is 'historical'

It's no secret that Max Scherzer has been having the best month of his career. As whispers of a fourth Cy Young begin following his commanding starts this season, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo joined the chorus.

"We're seeing something from a major league pitcher that we’re very fortunate because we get to see this every fifth day and this is historical stuff," Rizzo said on The Sports Junkies Wednesday. "This is one of the great pitchers of our time and a hall of fame caliber guy and a guy who leaves it on the mound each and every day."

To add to his dominant June, Scherzer allowed only one run and recorded 10 strikeouts over eight innings in the Nationals' 6-1 win over the Miami Marlins Tuesday night.

"He wills himself to win and he wills himself to go the extra inning, the extra pitch," Rizzo said.

Many are calling Scherzer's consistent greatness this month the most dominant time of his career. According to NBC Sports Washington's Todd Dybas, the only month in his career that comes close to his June 2019 dominance is June 2017, when Scherzer boasted a 0.99 ERA, pitched 36 ⅓ innings, recorded 51 strikeouts, six walks, and a 0.55 WHIP. This June, Scherzer has more strikeouts and a lower ERA.

"He's one of the best pitchers in the league," Rizzo said. "Day in and day out, start in and start out, he gives you an opportunity to win, he gives you his best, he leaves everything on the mound each and every time."

Scherzer has one more start left this month against the Detroit Tigers, the three-day series in Detroit beginning Friday. Until then, Scherzer can rest his arm with two remaining games in the three-game series with the Marlins Wednesday and Thursday at 7:10 p.m.

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Hayden Hurst is actually all set for training camp

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Hayden Hurst is actually all set for training camp

<em>This post has been updated with a correction to Hurst's injury status.</em>

Kick off your Wednesday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

1. Some good news for Ravens fans: Despite reports earlier that a hamstring injury has left tight end Hayden Hurst 'questionable' to participate in training camp from Rotoworld, he said he's doing just fine. Hurst had hamstring issues previously but returned to practice. Last season, Hurst missed four games following foot surgery. After a previous version of this post was published, he tweeted that he is not questionable for camp. We regret the error. 

2. On "Good Morning Football," Maurice Jones-Drew called Earl Thomas the new Ed Reed. Jones-Drew says Thomas will have the biggest defensive impact on his new spot with the Ravens.

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. ET deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens and Rotoworld for news points.

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