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Luck's TD lifts Colts past Titans 19-13 in OT

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Luck's TD lifts Colts past Titans 19-13 in OT

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Andrew Luck calls the game-winning play coach Bruce Arians designed ``really neat,'' and the Colts interim coach thinks the rookie quarterback was just fantastic.

Now Luck is off to a better winning start than any other rookie quarterback ever taken at No. 1 overall in NFL history.

Luck tossed a screen pass that fellow rookie Vick Ballard took 16 yards for a touchdown 4:49 into overtime, even if the running back had to take to the air to reach the goal line upside down, and the Colts rallied in beating the Tennessee Titans 19-13 on Sunday for their second straight win.

``When he called it, I wasn't too surprised because it had worked in practice and with the way things were going, I thought it was a great call,'' Luck said. ``And I'm glad it worked out.''

Luck threw for 297 yards with a TD and an interception, shaking off two sacks before driving the Colts on not one but two 80-yard scoring drives. Luck has one more win through seven games than Peyton Manning managed all of his rookie season, and his .571 winning percentage is the highest through Week 8 in NFL history.

And the Colts (4-3) now have not only their first road win of this season, but their first since 2010 when Manning still was their quarterback.

``We got four more wins than everyone thought we would have, so that's good,'' Colts linebacker Pat Angerer said.

The Titans (3-5) missed a big opportunity to reach .500 after starting 1-4, and they can blame themselves for missing their third straight win when they couldn't come through with a third straight fourth-quarter rally after not holding onto a fourth-quarter lead.

``We had a lot of opportunities to win, and we gave them a lot of opportunities too,'' Titans running back Chris Johnson said. ``They stepped up and made the plays that they had to make.''

Indianapolis outgained Tennessee 457-339, and Adam Vinatieri also kicked two field goals. Arians had plenty of praise for the rookie quarterback.

``He is a big strong young man, and he can throw the football from any position accurately,'' Arians said. ``He did a good job of avoiding rushes and making completions, especially on third down.''

The Titans led most of the game even with left tackle Michael Roos out due to an appendectomy. Right tackle David Stewart and right guard Leroy Harris each hurt right knees on the opening drive. Stewart returned, though Harris never did.

Matt Hasselbeck threw for 236 yards and a TD pass that was the 200th of his career making him the 32nd player in NFL history to reach that mark. Michael Griffin got an interception and also blocked a 37-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

But the Titans came in giving up more points than any team in the NFL, and they just couldn't make the stop to give their offense one last chance.

Delone Carter tied the game at 13 with his 1-yard TD run with 3:24 left in regulation.

Hasselbeck overthrew tight end Jared Cook on what would have been a touchdown. Then Hasselbeck threw incomplete before coach Mike Munchak chose to punt with 56 seconds left rather than let Rob Bironas, who beat the Colts with a 60-yarder on this field in 2006, try about a 58-yard field goal with a stiff wind at his back.

Bironas, who kicked two field goals earlier and missed a 45-yarder into the wind, said only that it was a coaching decision.

Tennessee thought it had recovered a fumble that would allow Bironas to win the game in regulation. Colts fullback Dwayne Allen was stripped of the ball after a catch, and Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner recovered at the Colts 28. Officials ruled Allen down due, and the Colts kneeled down to run out the final seconds to reach overtime.

``It's a huge play and huge time of the game,'' Munchak said. ``You wish it had gone the other way where you let the play go, and they can decide if the guy is down by contact. When you rule forward progress, then you can't review the play.''

The Colts won the toss, took the ball and never gave it back.

NOTES: Colts CB Vontae Davis sprained his left knee on the opening drive and did not return. He was replaced by Cassius Vaughn. ... Colts TE Coby Fleenor hurt a shoulder in the first half and had one pass thrown at him in the second half. ... Bironas now is the franchise career leader with 201 field goals. Al Del Greco had 200 field goals for the Oilers-Titans.

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler