Capitals

Jackson putting up career numbers with Buccaneers

Jackson putting up career numbers with Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) In what's been a roller coaster season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, receiver Vincent Jackson has been a model of consistency and quietly put together one of the best seasons of his career.

The ninth-year pro leads the Bucs with 69 receptions for 1,334 yards and eight touchdowns and has been everything the team envisioned they were getting when he signed a five-year, $55.55 million contract as a free agent after spending eight years with the San Diego Chargers.

Jackson had his fifth 100-yard game of the season during Sunday's 28-13 loss to the St. Louis Rams and has already set career bests for receptions and yards in a season. He had his first 200-yard game in a win over Kansas City, and he's averaging a NFL-best 19.3 yards per catch.

The Bucs (6-9) will take a five-game losing streak into Sunday's season finale at Atlanta. Quarterback Josh Freeman has struggled during the skid, yet primarily because of the impact Jackson has had on the Tampa Bay offense, the fourth-year pro only needs 157 yards against the Falcons to become the franchise's first 4,000-yard passer.

Jackson's contract was done in all 5's in honor of Freeman, who wears jersey No. 5. In addition to giving the Bucs the first legitimate deep threat in more than a decade, the 29-year-old has helped third-year receiver Mike Williams rebound from a subpar 2011.

``I couldn't be happier to be here,'' Jackson said, adding that it didn't take him long to decide to sign with the Bucs following a short conversation with first-year coach Greg Schiano when the free agency period began last March.

``It only took about five minutes. Learning his mentality, his approach to the game, what he saw my role to be, being leader kind of guy with my work ethic, just the way he wanted this organization to change,'' Jackson said. ``Not just the players but an entire organization, the city and way the league views this team. It's fun to play for a guy like that. Everybody in this locker room has bought into it.''

Williams had seven receptions for 132 yards and scored Tampa Bay's only touchdown on a 61-yard catch-and-run against the Rams. His production slipped a year ago following a standout rookie year, however he's benefited from Jackson's presence and enters Sunday's finale with 57 catches for career bests of 931 yards and 16.3 yards per reception.

``My role is to do what I've always done. ... Obviously, guys kind of feed off the things I do,'' Jackson said. ``I try to be a professional at all times. Just sharing knowledge. We call it being farmers. You can't grow good corn if your neighbors don't grow good corn. I want everybody around me to be successful.''

Rookie Doug Martin has rushed for 1,321 yards and 10 touchdowns and is third in the league in total yards from scrimmage behind Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson.

Nevertheless, the Bucs will miss the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.

Jackson, who had seven receptions for 108 yards, thinks the team is headed in the right direction.

A four-game winning streak helped the Bucs overcome a 1-3 start to climb back into contention for a postseason berth at 6-4. But mounting injuries, Freeman's inconsistency and a porous pass defense have taken their toll during their current skid.

There's been no letup in Jackson's game, though. He has 27 catches for 451 yards, including a pair of 100-yard performances, over the past five weeks to move within 69 yards of breaking Mark Carrier's 23-year-old franchise single-season record of 1,422 yards.

``I'm happy to contribute the way I have. I still think this offense has some things we haven't completely executed as well as we could have in all different areas,'' Jackson said.

``But we have great talent ... as far as offense goes. Tight ends, running backs, obviously Josh. For me to step in here, there's a lot of great tools around me that allow me to be successful,'' the 6-foot-5, 230-pound receiver added. ``For me, I just have to go out there, continue to work as hard as I work, have fun, enjoy it and we'll see how the season ends. Right now, it's about wins.''

Coaches and teammates rave about the receiver's work ethic and way he leads by example.

``He's been such an impact player for us. First by his performance on the field, plays he has made, the consistency, his professionalism, and the versatility,'' offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said. ``There is a complete physical presence, a dominant physical presence. He's a leader, part of the solution. We're very fortunate to have him.''

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3 Caps who impressed against the Blues in preview of the season opener

3 Caps who impressed against the Blues in preview of the season opener

Nicklas Backstrom scored with less than seven seconds remaining to give the Capitals the 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday in a preseason preview of the regular-season opener. Radko Gudas and Richard Panik also scored.

Here are three players who impressed for the Caps.

1. Richard Panik

Panik got plenty of practice on the penalty kill with 4:16 of shorthanded ice time shorthanded. In that time he gave a glimpse of why he was so coveted by the Caps as a free agent.

In the first period, Panik pounced on a loose puck at the top of the faceoff circle in the defensive zone. Seeing he had room to work with, he did not just clear it down the ice and instead elected to skate up with it. He fought off the backcheck from Tyler Bozak through the neutral zone, drew an additional two Blues players to him, then drew a holding call from Bozak because he would not give up the puck.

Panik's 4:16 of penalty kill time was more than top penalty killer Carl Hagelin's 2:26, though the fact that Hagelin took two minors on the night probably had something to do with it.

Late in the game, Panik was also added to the power play as a sixth attacker with the goalie pulled. He would score the game-tying goal with just 1:09 left in regulation.

2. The goalies

Vitek Vanecek and Ilya Samsonov both played about a half of the game. It is really hard to evaluate a goalie on just 30 minutes of work, so I will give a shoutout to both as both played very well.

Vanecek got the start. He looked a little awkward at first, but settled in as the game went along for a solid performance. He stopped 13 of the 14 shots he faced with the only goal he allowed a weird deflection off of Brett Leason’s skate.

Samsonov took over about halfway through the second period and within minutes found himself defending the net on a 5-on-3 penalty kill. The penalty killers helped out their young netminder allowing only one shot on goal, but it was a good one. Colton Parayko one-timed a slap shot, but Samsonov was there to stop with no rebound. Soon after the penalty was over, Vladimir Tarasenko was all alone in front of the net, but was denied by Samsonov’s who stretched the blocker to deny the high shot.

Sanford scores on the PP. Samsonov wasn't tight against the post. Showed him too much daylight and Sanford made him pay.

Samsonov finished with 11 saves on 12 shots.

3. Connor McMichael

Boy, somebody got a confidence boost from Monday’s game. 

McMichael was given a second preseason game as a reward for his solid performance on Monday and he definitely showed off the confidence that comes along with being a first-round draft pick.

In the first period, McMichael found himself all alone with the puck on a mini-breakaway on Jordan Binnington. Just a reminder, this is the Binnington who was the starting goalie for the Stanley Cup champions.

So what did McMichael do? He skated to the front and tried the stick between the legs shot. It may not have worked, but you have to respect the confidence this kid had just to try, though no doubt the coaches probably had a few words for him in the locker room about it.

There was one area in which McMichael struggled, however, and that was on the faceoff where he lost all five draws he took on the night.

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WNBA Semifinals: Aces at Mystics - Game 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream how to watch

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WNBA Semifinals: Aces at Mystics - Game 2: Date, time, TV channel, live stream how to watch

After a thrilling back-and-forth contest to start the WNBA Semifinals, the Washington Mystics and Elena Delle Donne are back in action to host the Las Vegas Aces for Game 2.

Washington took Game 1 97-95 over Las Vegas in their first game in nine days to start the series. Rusty and stuttering out of the gate, the Mystics were able to gut out a win after an explosive run in the third and early fourth quarter. 

Emma Meesseman (27 points) led the charge for Washington. In the third quarter, she took over the game totaling 13 of the team's 26 points and got the Mystics back in control of the contest. Elena Delle Donne finished with 24 points and hit the game-clinching basket in the final minute of regulation.

A'ja Wilson had 23 points in a losing effort, despite playing all but three minutes. Off the bench, Kelsey Plum emerged with 16 points to give the Aces an additional spark. 

Game 2 is on Thursday, Sept. 19 at 8:30 p.m. ET at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. The best-of-five series features the high-powered and No. 1 seeded Mystics against the most defensively sound squad in the No. 4 seeded Aces.

The Aces entered the series with a ton of momentum, fresh off one of the craziest wins in WNBA history. They gut-punched the top seed in the opening half and nearly stole it in the closing seconds. Nevertheless, it appears the Mystics with the third-best offense in the WNBA's existence found their footing and will be better prepared for Game 2. 

ACES VS. MYSTICS GAME 2:

Who: Las Vegas Aces at Washington Mystics

What: WNBA Semifinals Game 2

When: Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, 8:30 p.m. ET

Where: Entertainment and Sports Arena, Washington D.C.

TV Channel: ESPN2

Live Stream: WatchESPN

MYSTICS vs. ACES WNBA SEMIFINALS SCHEDULE:

Game 1: Mystics 97, Aces 95 (Mystics lead 1-0)

Game 2: Thurs, Sept. 19: Aces at Mystics, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Game 3: Sun, Sept. 22: Mystics at Aces, 5:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Game 4: Tue, Sept 24: Mystics at Aces, Time TBD, ESPN2 (if necessary)

Game 5: Thurs, Sept. 26: Aces at Mystics, Time TBD, ESPN2 (if necessary)

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