Lions back at .500 but facing tough road ahead


Lions back at .500 but facing tough road ahead

ALLEN PARK, Mich. (AP) The Detroit Lions finally started fast, finally ran the ball consistently and finally won a game that didn't come down to the final seconds.

Not a bad day's work - but all it did was bring the Lions back to .500 at the season's halfway point.

At 4-4, Detroit is still in last place in the NFC North, facing an uphill climb to reach the playoffs. The schedule doesn't look too favorable the rest of the way, with two games against Green Bay and one each against Houston, Atlanta and Chicago.

In other words, Detroit better build on Sunday's 31-14 victory over Jacksonville. The Lions play at Minnesota next weekend, and a win would pull them out of the division basement.

``I think that whether it's the first game of the year or the ninth game of the year, whatever it is, when you're playing a division opponent it becomes more important because a win for you also puts a loss on them,'' Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. ``The way they started the season, they put themselves in the picture. We can't worry about that. We need to worry about just this game.''

Minnesota (5-4) beat the Lions 20-13 on Sept. 30. Detroit hasn't played particularly well in first halves this year, and the Lions' first three victories all came late in regulation or in overtime. So it was clearly a step in the right direction when Detroit led 21-0 at halftime against the overmatched Jaguars.

Mikel Leshoure ran for 70 yards and three touchdowns, and Joique Bell rushed for 73 yards and a TD. The Lions set a season high with 149 yards on the ground - the only other times they've surpassed 100 was during their two overtime games.

``Thought we got good contributions out of the run game. Not just from Mikel in the first half but Joique,'' Schwartz said. ``I mean, we don't go into it thinking, you know, hey look, we need to rush for this many or pass for this many. We need to score enough points to win the game. However we do that, it's great.''

There was concern going in about Calvin Johnson, but he finished with seven catches for 129 yards after getting a pain-killing shot in his left knee.

``He's no worse for wear. He toughed it out in the game and made a big contribution in the game obviously,'' Schwartz said. ``We're in the middle of an NFL season, everybody's going to be dealing with something like that. But the things that he's had eventually will be put to bed.''

A more balanced offense would help the Lions, who are without injured wide receiver Nate Burleson. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has also looked shaky at times, although he went 22 of 33 for 285 yards with no interceptions against Jacksonville.

Detroit players weren't available to reporters Monday after their drama-free victory. It wasn't just the most lopsided win of the season, but it was the first double-digit margin for the Lions in either direction. Their four losses have all been by eight points or fewer.

So the 4-4 start is probably a pretty fair assessment of the Lions' performance so far. Before the win over Jacksonville, the statistically oriented website pegged Detroit's chance of reaching the playoffs at 7.2 percent. Beating the Jaguars was a step in the right direction, but there's a lot more work to be done, especially in a division where everybody is at .500 or better.

``The most important thing is the way you play. You can't control anything else,'' Schwartz said. ``You know, if you play well, then that's all you can do. Work hard and come out with a win. This is another game for us, an NFC game. You know, it's a very, very important game for us. It starts the second half of the year.''

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 


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Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

Bradley Beal receives zero All-NBA votes, which itself is a snub

On Thursday the NBA revealed the All-NBA teams for the 2017-18 season.

Not surprisingly, Bradley Beal and John Wall did not make it to one of the three five-player teams. Of the two superstars, only Wall has been recognized once in his career.

What is surprising is that neither Beal nor Wall received a single vote in the whole process, especially Beal.

The 2017-18 season was without question the best in Beal’s career. He played in all 82 games, coming right off of the heals of his All-Star recognition. Beal seems to agree in his snubbing, tweeting this minutes after the teams were announced:

Looking at the list of players who made the top three teams, it shouldn’t be an issue, but these three guys got more votes than the Wizards' duo combined: Steven Adams, Trevor Ariza, and Dwight Howard. It is not surprising that Beal and Wall did not make an All-NBA team. It is odd that Beal didn’t receive a vote.

Here is a list of the full All-NBA Teams:


LeBron James (Cavaliers), James Harden (Rockets), Anthony Davis (Pelicans), Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers), Kevin Durant (Warriors)


Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Russell Westbrook (Thunder), Joel Embiid (76ers), LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs), DeMar DeRozan (Raptors)


Stephen Curry (Warriors), Victor Oladipo (Pacers), Karl-Anthony Towns (Timberwolves), Jimmy Butler (Timberwolves), Paul George (Thunder)