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NFC East wide open after Redskins top Giants 17-16

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NFC East wide open after Redskins top Giants 17-16

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) There was the fumble by Robert Griffin III that turned into a Washington Redskins touchdown. There was the fumble by teammate Alfred Morris that led to a melee of leg-pulling followed by a kick to the midsection and something dangerously close to a stomp.

The quartet of flawed teams that make up the NFC East sure do make things interesting.

The division title that seemingly belonged to the New York Giants is up for grabs after their 17-16 loss Monday night to the Redskins, who are back in the running thanks to a rookie quarterback and a three-game winning streak.

``We had an opportunity here today,'' New York coach Tom Coughlin said. ``But now there's one team with seven and two teams with six wins. There's four games to go.''

That about sums it up.

Now that the Giants (7-5) have lost three of four, the Redskins (6-6) and Cowboys (6-6) are squarely in the hunt despite mediocre records. Washington has dispatched each of its division rivals - Philadelphia, Dallas and now New York - one by one over the last three weeks to recover from a 3-6 start that prompted coach Mike Shanahan to talk about evaluating players for future seasons.

``We know that our backs are against the wall,'' said Griffin, whose Redskins host Dallas in what they hope will be a meaningful season finale. ``And even though we won tonight, our backs are still against the wall.''

It'll be hard to count the Redskins out as long as Griffin is on the field. He completed 13 of 21 passes for 163 yards and a go-ahead, 8-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon in the fourth quarter to finish with a 101.9 passer rating. He also ran for 72 yards to get to 714 for the season, breaking Cam Newton's NFL record for a rookie quarterback.

It was his sixth game with a 100-plus passer rating, his eighth without an interception - and his second in which one of his fumbles turned into a Redskins score.

On the way to the turf after a 12-yard run, Griffin was stripped by Stevie Brown - but the ball flew right to teammate Joshua Morgan 3 yards upfield. Morgan then ran 13 yards for a first-quarter touchdown no one would ever diagram on a whiteboard.

``We didn't run it in practice because we wanted to save it for the game,'' Griffin said with a grin. ``I knew he was going to be there for it. ... Joshua did a good job being in the spot where he was supposed to be.''

The game's other fumble was just as chaotic - and a little scary. After Morris was stripped during a third-quarter run, New York defensive tackle Linval Joseph yanked at Redskins center Will Montgomery's leg while players were fighting for the ball in the pile.

Montgomery kicked out in response, a swipe that Joseph said hit him in the groin.

``I was just trying to get my leg loose,'' Montgomery said.

Joseph then stomped at Montgomery, appearing to pull back at the last second but still making contact.

``It took me everything not to kick him back because I didn't want hurt the team, and I didn't want to get fined and none of that,'' Joseph said. ``I started, then I stopped.''

Joseph and a Redskins player were whistled for offsetting unnecessary roughness penalties.

Morris finished with 124 yards, reaching 1,106 for the season to break Reggie Brooks' franchise rookie rushing record of 1,063, set in 1993. Garcon caught eight passes for 106 yards, showing no signs of the painful toe injury that forced him to miss six of the season's first nine games.

Eli Manning completed 20 of 33 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown, and Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 103 yards on 24 carries for the Giants. Victor Cruz, who caught the game-winning score when the teams met in the Meadowlands in October, had five catches for 104 yards.

The Giants moved the ball well, but they only managed three field goals by Lawrence Tynes and one touchdown - Manning's 4-yard pass to Martellus Bennett late in the second quarter.

Tynes also missed a 43-yard field goal, and the Giants were uncharacteristically penalty-prone, getting flagged nine times for 73 yards. New York led 13-10 at the half, but scored only three more points.

``This is not real complicated. I don't know what happened in the second half,'' Coughlin said. ``We certainly didn't come out and play. Penalties. Sloppy football.''

NOTES: The Giants had won 26 in a row on the road when holding a halftime lead. They last failed to finish the job in 2006 against Tennessee. ... The Redskins snapped a 10-game home losing streak in Monday night games. ... Shanahan got his 171st win (regular and postseason), tying him with Redskins' Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs for 12th all time. ... New York S Tyler Sash left the game with a hamstring injury, and RT Sean Locklear was carted off in the fourth quarter with a knee injury.

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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