Nationals

NFL Capsule: Falcons at Panthers

NFL Capsule: Falcons at Panthers

ATLANTA (11-1) At CAROLINA (3-9)

Sunday, 1 p.m., FOX

OPENING LINE - Falcons by 3 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Atlanta 7-4-1; Carolina 5-7

SERIES RECORD - Falcons lead series 23-12

AP PRO32 RANKING - Falcons No. 2 (tie); Panthers No. 27

LAST MEETING - Falcons beat Panthers 30-28, Sept. 30

LAST WEEK - Falcons beat Saints 23-13: Panthers lost to Chiefs 27-21

FALCONS OFFENSE - OVERALL (9), RUSH (28), PASS (4)

FALCONS DEFENSE - OVERALL (18), RUSH (20), PASS (15)

PANTHERS OFFENSE - OVERALL (18), RUSH (15), PASS (16)

PANTHERS DEFENSE - OVERALL (14), RUSH (21), PASS (8)

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES - Falcons have clinched NFC South title. ... Falcons coach Mike Smith has lost 22 games as a head coach to Ron Rivera's 19. Big difference is Smith has won 54 and Rivera just nine. ... In last meeting in Charlotte between teams, QB Matt Ryan threw for four TDs as Falcons erased 23-7 deficit and won. ... Ryan has won seven of past eight starts against Carolina, including six straight. ... In past four meetings, Ryan has completed 83 of 132 (62.9 pct.) for 1,088 yards with 10 TDs and one INT vs. Carolina for 110.9 rating. He has 100-plus QB rating in all four of those games. ... RB Michael Turner is franchise leader with 58 total TDs. His only receiving touchdown came earlier this season against Carolina. ... In his last game at Carolina, WR Julio Jones had touchdown catches of 75 and 17 yards. ... Falcons WR Roddy White had eight catches for 169 yards (21.1 avg.) and two TDs earlier this year against Panthers. ... DE John Abraham has 14 1/2 sacks in his past 15 games. ... QB Cam Newton threw for 215 yards and two TDs in last meeting vs. Falcons and also ran for 86 yards. ... Since Week 9, Panthers QB Cam Newton has 12 total TDs (nine passing, three rushing) and two turnovers. Newton has compiled 101.5 passer rating in those games, completing 83 of 143 passes. ... RB DeAngelo Williams has scored in his past two meetings with Falcons. ... CB Captain Munnerlyn tied for NFL lead with two INT returns for TDs. ... DE Charles Johnson had 3 1/2 sacks in last meeting. He has five sacks in past three games against Falcons. ... Panthers TE Greg Olsen needs 11 more catches this season to surpass his previous high of 60 established in 2009 with Chicago.

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Max Scherzer grits his way through broken nose in stellar outing, win vs. Phillies

Max Scherzer grits his way through broken nose in stellar outing, win vs. Phillies

WASHINGTON -- With a broken nose, pronounced black eye and seven shutout innings, Max Scherzer provided a striking capper to the Washington Nationals' day-night doubleheader sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Scherzer himself? He shrugged off his work in the Nationals' 2-0 victory Wednesday night as business as usual.

"Trust me, this thing looks a lot worse than it actually is," Scherzer said. "I felt zero pain. There's been plenty of other injuries where I felt a lot of pain and I've had to pitch through. I'll hang my hat on those starts, but tonight I felt zero pain. This is part of what you have to do. You take the ball every fifth time.

"That's my responsibility to the team, to make sure I always post, and I knew I could post tonight."

Brian Dozier and Victor Robles hit solo homers to support Scherzer (6-5) as Washington won for the 16th time in 23 games. Philadelphia has dropped seven of its last nine and 12 of 18.

In the first game, Patrick Corbin struck out eight while allowing one run over seven innings as the Nationals earned a 6-2 victory in the delayed series opener after the teams were rained out Monday and Tuesday.

Scherzer bunted a ball off his face during batting practice Tuesday, but it didn't stop him from making his scheduled start. His injury may have provided an extra layer of intimidation in the form of a black eye more worthy of a boxing ring than a baseball diamond.

The three-time Cy Young Award winner sported a pronounced bruise arcing beneath his right eye, adding another hue to a glare that already featured one blue eye and one brown eye.

"Going out there and throwing, the only thing I had to deal with was the swelling underneath the eye," Scherzer said. "It was kind of jiggling around, and so in warmups I just had to get used to knowing what it was feeling like to throw the ball and just have that swelling."

While he wasn't at his most efficient on a humid night, piling up 117 pitches, Scherzer was rarely threatened. He struck out 10, yielded only four hits and permitted just two runners to reach scoring position. And he finished strong, striking out three in a row after Cesar Hernandez led off the seventh with a double.

"It really is one of the most impressive things I've seen in a while," Dozier said. "He's probably the best pitcher in our generation, and you don't get that status unless you take the ball every fifth day, no matter if you're doing good, doing bad, you got a broken nose. You always want the ball."

Bryce Harper, Scherzer's former Nationals teammate, was 0 for 4 with four walks in the doubleheader and was loudly booed before each plate appearance -- especially in the better-attended nightcap. This series is his second trip back to Washington, where he played from 2012-18, since signing a 13-year, $330 million contract with Philadelphia in March.

Dozier belted a two-out solo shot in the second off Jake Arrieta (6-6), who allowed two hits and struck out three over six innings and had the misfortune of matching up with Scherzer on the wrong day.

"Max is just one of the best to ever toe the rubber, honestly," Arietta said. "We have ran into him a couple of times. That's just what he does. He is tough to square up, and he is throwing three or four pitches for strikes with electric stuff. Just a tough one."

Robles homered off reliever Pat Neshek in the eighth. Neshek departed two batters later with a left hamstring strain, and manager Gabe Kapler said he was likely to land on the injured list less than a week after returning from an absence of more than three weeks caused by a shoulder strain.

Wander Suero pitched a perfect eighth for Washington, and Sean Doolittle worked the ninth for his 15th save in 18 tries.

Philadelphia was 0 for 12 with runners in scoring position between the two games.

Corbin (6-5), whose start was pushed back twice this week, allowed a solo homer to Scott Kingery in the first inning of the opener. But he let just one other runner to reach third while ending a personal three-game skid.

"It's not ideal, but you have to deal with it to make sure you are ready," said Corbin, who is one strikeout shy of 1,000 for his career. "I was glad we got that one in today."

Dozier and Gerardo Parra had RBI doubles against Phillies starter Zach Eflin (6-7). They later hit back-to-back homers in the eighth inning off Cole Irvin to seal the victory.

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This Nationals fan's Max Scherzer broken nose shirt is the best thing you'll see today

This Nationals fan's Max Scherzer broken nose shirt is the best thing you'll see today

Nationals ace Max Scherzer added another incredible chapter to his legendary career Wednesday, pitching seven shutout innings against the Phillies after breaking his nose in a batting practice accident the day before. 

To honor Scherzer's toughness, one amazing Nats fan wore arguably the greatest shirt ever seen at a baseball game.

(Photo: NBC Sports Washington)

This isn't a good shirt. This is a GREAT shirt, worthy of the man who's face it features. 

Someone get this fan a signed Scherzer baseball. 

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