Nationals

Jerry Rice to Randy Moss: check the stats

Jerry Rice to Randy Moss: check the stats

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Hall of Famer Jerry Rice has no interest in a back-and-forth debate with Randy Moss during Super Bowl week about who's the greatest NFL wide receiver of all time.

``This is not about Randy and Jerry,'' Rice said Thursday. ``It's OK. I don't need to talk about being the best receiver. I don't need to do that. I don't need to pat myself on the back.''

Rice has a strong opinion on the matter, yet insists he won't come out and say he is the best ever. The former San Francisco 49ers star turned television man will offer one thought to Moss: Check the stats.

``I know he says you can't bring the stats into the scenario, but I think that's part of being the best receiver to play the game,'' Rice said Thursday. ``I'm just having fun with it right now. I think the thing is, I never took any plays off and I always gave 100 percent. Also, you put my numbers up against Randy's and my body of work compared to his, and there's a big difference.''

During media day Tuesday at the Superdome, Moss declared himself ``the greatest receiver ever to play this game.'' The 35-year-old Moss, who returned to the league this season after a year off, Moss made 28 catches for 434 yards and three touchdowns this season. In 2007, he broke Rice's single-season record for touchdown catches with 23. Rice had 22 in 1987.

Rice had 14 1,000-yard seasons. Moss is second with 10.

Rice, who played the first 16 of his 21 NFL seasons with San Francisco from 1985-2000, holds virtually every significant receiving mark. That includes most career receptions (1,549); yards receiving (22,895); total touchdowns (208); and combined net yards (23,546) in his career with San Francisco, Oakland and Seattle.

Rice gives Moss the nod for pure talent and athletic ability, but that's not all it takes.

``The thing about me guys - and I still say this today - I think Randy Moss was the most talented,'' Rice said. ``But along with being the most talented, you have to work hard - every season, every play. I was not the most talented, but I was going to outwork you. He probably could have been the greatest player ever to play the game. He's 6-5, could run a 4.3. Could outjump you. Struck fear in the heart of the defense. But you have to have it here, in your heart.''

Rice later pointed out that he wasn't questioning Moss' heart, just emphasizing his own and the passion for the game.

``This is how I impacted the game,'' Rice said, holding up the sparkly 1988-89 championship ring on his middle right finger, ``with Super Bowl rings. I'm hoping he can go out there and win his first one and be a big factor.''

Before Rice spoke, during a media session for several in the lineup of ESPN commentators, he was announced as ``arguably the best wide receiver ...'' The woman couldn't finish before Rice interrupted.

``The second best,'' he quipped, laughing.

Let the debate continue.

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

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Wild-card tracker: Nationals lose, but so does Milwaukee and Chicago

Wild-card tracker: Nationals lose, but so does Milwaukee and Chicago

The Nationals led off the day with a loss Wednesday afternoon which positioned both Chicago and Milwaukee to gain a game in the evening.

Instead, San Diego held Milwaukee to a run in a 2-1 win and Cincinnati beat Chicago in extra innings, 3-2.

Washington remains 1 ½ games ahead of both Milwaukee and Chicago, which are tied with each other in the second wild-card spot. Both have 10 games to play. The Nationals have 11 games to play.

Philadelphia and New York are each 4 ½ games behind Washington. Both are three games behind Milwaukee and Chicago.

Fivethirtyeight.com gives the Nationals a 92 percent chance of making the postseason.

Coming up Tuesday:

Nationals are off

Mets off

Philadelphia at Atlanta, 12:10 p.m. Nola (12-5, 3.62 ERA) vs. Soroka (12-4, 2.57)

San Diego at Milwaukee, 4:10 p.m.. Luchessi (10-8, 4.22 ERA) vs. Lyles (11-8, 4.25)

St. Louis at Chicago, 7:15 p.m.. Flaherty (10-8, 3.05) vs. Hendricks (11-9, 3.26)

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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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