Redskins

Kane scores, Blackhawks beat Blues 3-2

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Kane scores, Blackhawks beat Blues 3-2

CHICAGO (AP) Right from the start, the Chicago Blackhawks knew they would be tested.

Clearly, they were ready.

Patrick Kane, Brent Seabrook and Viktor Stalberg scored to back Corey Crawford, and Chicago hung on to beat the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on Tuesday night.

``There are a lot of positive things that you could look at our game right now and say we're doing things well in certain areas,'' Jonathan Toews said.

They're getting off to strong starts in games. They're off to a strong start, period, actually.

The Blackhawks looked sharp in their home opener after impressive wins at defending champion Los Angeles and Phoenix, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round last season.

This time, they took out the reigning Central division champions, another impressive win for a team that has its sights set high.

``They were a lot of top opponents right out of the gate, but I like the focus of our team right off the bat, the contributions we're getting from a lot of guys,'' coach Joel Quenneville said. ``It's a positive start, we're happy, but let's keep trying to get better.''

Kane scored in the first period, Seabrook deflected a shot into the net with his skate in the second and Stalberg came through early in the third to make it 3-0.

Crawford made 32 saves and was in line for his first shutout since March 2011 when Andy McDonald beat him with a wrist shot shortly after Stalberg scored. T.J. Oshie pulled the Blues within one when he fired in a rebound of David Peron's shot on a power play with 5:07 left.

Brian Elliott made 24 saves, but the Blues took their first loss after beating Detroit and Nashville.

``We were light with the puck, particularly in the offensive zone,'' coach Ken Hitchcock said. ``It wasn't what we did in our zone, it's what we did entering their zone and they transitioned quick. They caught us for odd-man rushes early.''

It was another good showing by the Blackhawks after they scored 11 goals in their first two games and sparked memories of the high-powered team that won the Stanley Cup in 2010.

``We just have to remind ourselves every night that it's about us preparing ourselves to play and worrying about our own game, our own locker room,'' Toews said. ``If we do that, there's little things that we want to take note of when we play certain teams. Other than that, it's just about us in this locker room. It doesn't matter who we play out there. We've got to set that standard for how we're going to play every single night.''

That's something he felt slipped at times last season. They had a big lull, dropping nine in a row at one point, before regrouping to finish with the fifth-most points in the Western Conference (101).

So far, though, they seem to be meeting their standards.

Playing against the team that allowed the fewest goals in the league last season, they set the tempo in the early going and grabbed a 1-0 lead 7:20 in when Kane cut across the crease on a 3-on-0 rush. He took a feed from Patrick Sharp and beat Elliott with a backhand for his second goal of the season.

``I don't know if I've ever seen a 3-on-0 in our league,'' Quenneville said.

The Blues came on late in the period, but Crawford made two great saves seconds apart when he stopped Alexander Steen and sprawled out to block Vladimir Tarasenko on the rebound.

The Blackhawks caught a break early in the second when Steen fired at an empty net with Crawford out of position. The puck deflected off Chicago center Marcus Kruger's stick and fluttered into Keith's chest, preserving the lead for Chicago.

The Blackhawks added to it midway through the period on a power play when Keith fired a low laser from the blue line through a screen. The puck deflected off Seabrook's skate and slipped between Elliott's pads, making it 2-0.

Stalberg beat Elliott glove side just over two minutes into the third, with McDonald spoiling the shutout bid about 21/2 minutes after that.

``We were mismanaging the puck (in the first period) and poor reads,'' Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. ``I think we just didn't play our game. We didn't play smart and we gave them too many odd-man rushes.''

Notes: Blackhawks F Daniel Carcillo missed his second straight game with a right knee injury, and D Steve Montador remains sidelined by a concussion he suffered last season. ... Blues have not won in Chicago since Feb. 3, 2010. ... This was the 282nd meeting between St. Louis and Chicago. The Blues have played the Blackhawks more than any other team. ... Steen played in his 500th game.

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The Kapri Bibbs touchdown vs. the Cowboys was the very definition of team football

The Kapri Bibbs touchdown vs. the Cowboys was the very definition of team football

The obsession over how football is a team game, and how all 11 guys on the field matter on every single play, can be nauseating at times.

Plenty of things in an NFL contest happen because of one player beating another player. In other instances, it's about a single dude just absolutely screwing everything up all on his own (most often that dude is Blake Bortles).

But on Kapri Bibbs' 23-yard opening-drive touchdown catch vs. the Cowboys in Week 7, a ton of non-ball-carrying Redskins did in fact chip in to help get Bibbs into the end zone. It was one of those plays that just makes you want to scream FOOTBALLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!

The first two 'Skins who deserve recognition on the score are Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff.

Lauvao, who was returning from injury, leaked out with Scherff and Chase Roullier to serve as Bibbs' personal, giant escorts to the goal line. He then showed excellent awareness to peel back and seal off Dallas D-linemen Antwaun Woods, which ended any hopes of a Cowboy catching Bibbs from behind.

The true hero, though, was Scherff. The human wood chipper got pieces of two opposing linemen before breaking out to the next level, diving and knocking Kavon Frazier out of Bibbs' path. Without Scherff's insane effort, the screen pass doesn't even result in positive yardage, let alone six points.

Here's a still image of the first two, key blocks:

Large Redskins weren't the only ones getting the job done in hand-to-hand combat, however. For a screen to elevate itself from solid play to major chunk play, you need receivers doing work well past the line of scrimmage, too.

Well, this screenshot of Josh Doctson and Brian Quick holding blocks at the sticks definitely qualifies as doing work:

And, lastly, there's the center, Roullier. The man who started the entire sequence with a snap from the 23-yard line eventually found himself at the 12, displacing Byron Jones to ensure that the home team's tailback would finish things dancing instead of getting up from the ground:

To enjoy the full FOOTBALLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!-ness of the six-pointer, head to the 23-second mark of this video. Then, take a moment to reflect on all those poor Cowboys who thought they were going to tackle Kapri Bibbs throughout the course of that highlight, because they never really had a chance and that's just so sad for them.

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What exactly was Alex Smith thinking when he went out of bounds on the last drive?

What exactly was Alex Smith thinking when he went out of bounds on the last drive?

FEDEX FIELD -- Late in the Redskins win over the Cowboys, when the contest was still very much in question, Alex Smith made an incredibly poor decision. 

It was situational football at its peak. The Redskins had the ball with under 90 seconds left and a three point lead while Dallas had just one timeout left. A first down would end the game, but beyond getting a new set of downs, forcing Cowboys coach Jason Garrett to use his final timeout was the next highest priority. 

Somehow, Smith achieved neither. 

On third-and-9 from his own 36-yard-line, Smith took the snap and worked left on a play-action bootleg. There was room to run for a modest gain, but it seemed obvious Smith would not pick up the first down. 

Only Smith didn't see it that way. 

"I knew a first down would end the game and I did have glimpses of myself getting the first down whatever it took," the quarterback said. 

Instead of getting the first down, Smith got dragged out of bounds by Dallas LB Sean Lee. That stopped the clock for the Cowboys, and allowed Garrett to save his final timeout. 

Barring a turnover, it was the worst possible outcome on the play. 

What makes the situation so strange is that Smith is a very smart player. A 14-year veteran, Smith is known as a guy that won't make mistakes to hurt his team and gives his squad a chance for a win every week. Only late in the game, Smith tried to make the play to go for the win, and made a huge mistake instead. 

"I all of a sudden found myself pretty awkward on the sidelines there and can’t have it," Smith said. "[I] could have obviously cost us the game in hindsight at that point, I think kinda abandon ship and go down there on the sideline.”

The good news for Smith, and for the 4-2 Redskins, is that Cowboys kicker Brett Maher plunked the upright on his game-tying field goal attempt. An attempt that might not have happened if Smith stayed in bounds. 

In the end, it didn't cost the Redskins. 

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