NCAA

Packers won't have Woodson back for Bears game

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Packers won't have Woodson back for Bears game

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Jay Cutler can't catch a break this season.

Clay Matthews was back at practice Wednesday for the first time since pulling his hamstring last month, and he's eager to terrorize the Bears quarterback again Sunday when the Green Bay Packers (9-4) travel to Chicago. The Packers can clinch the NFC North title with a victory over their biggest rivals.

``When you have a good day rushing the passer - it might not equal sacks directly, but if you feel good as a pass rusher you get into a routine, a rhythm and a groove,'' Matthews said. ``I definitely felt that was the case the first time we played them. I want to break out a little bit of the rust, obviously, sitting out a few games, but there shouldn't be a drop-off.

``Hopefully, there isn't.''

Tormenting Cutler has become one of Matthews' favorite activities. He has six sacks in seven games against the Bear, and Cutler probably still has some bruises from their meeting in September. Matthews had a career-high 3 1/2 sacks, seven tackles - six of them solo - and also batted down a pass. The Bears managed just 168 yards in that game, a 23-10 Green Bay win that was even more lopsided than the score indicated.

Despite missing the last four games, Matthews still leads the Packers - and is tied for sixth in the NFC - with nine sacks.

``He's practicing today? That's good to know. We could use all the help we can get,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said in a conference call with Packers media. ``He's one of the best players in the league. That'll definitely give them a boost. They're a better football team with him on the football field.''

The Packers would be even better if Charles Woodson was ready to go, but coach Mike McCarthy said doctors decided the perennial Pro Bowler needs to give his broken collarbone another week to heal. Woodson practiced last week, and was hoping he'd be able to play against Chicago.

The Packers-Bears rivalry is the oldest in the NFL and, no question, its fiercest. Curly Lambeau and George Halas used to refuse to shake hands after games, and Bears receiver Brandon Marshall said Wednesday he's never disliked a team as much as the Packers.

That the Packers can clinch the division title has only added to the hype.

``Very frustrating day. Charles was ready to play, he's ready to go,'' McCarthy said. ``It's the judgment of our medical staff, in particular Dr. McKenzie. He does not feel it's in Charles' best interest to play in this game. Trust me, that's not easy. He's been preparing himself. He practiced last week. I know he's extremely frustrated.''

Matthews is anxious to get back on the field, too, but he knows he has to be smart about it. This is his third hamstring injury, and there's no sense getting back on the field if he's only going to have to come right back off a week or two later.

Especially with where the Packers are in the season.

Green Bay has been one of the hottest teams in the NFL after its 2-3 start, winning seven of its last eight. Not only are the Packers closing in on the division title, they still have a shot at the NFC's No. 2 seed - and the first-round bye that goes with it.

``I'm not going to put myself in an older category, but maybe a younger Clay might have pushed it a little too much in trying to get back out there,'' said Matthews, who is in his fourth season. ``But you have to realize the bigger picture here. ... With a few games left and an opportunity to clinch this thing, with an opportunity to get into the playoffs, ultimately that's the big picture. It's to get healthy and go into the last part of the season and playoffs full-strength and full-speed. Hopefully that's the case. Today was a good step.''

McCarthy said they'll see how Matthews responds the rest of the week. The Packers aren't practicing in pads at all this week, but they will be in shells Thursday and it will be their longest and hardest practice.

``The plan is for him to play in the game,'' McCarthy said. ``But that's why you practice. It's important to go through the process physically, mentally. ... We'll do our best to get him ready.''

Cutler might want to do the same.

Notes: OL T.J. Lang practiced after missing last week's game with an ankle injury. At his old left guard position, no less. Lang was shifted to right tackle after Bryan Bulaga suffered a season-ending hip injury Nov. 4 against Arizona. ``Today was the first day I really got to run around and plant on it, put weight on it,'' Lang said. ``I'm definitely feeling better each day. If I continue to make the improvements I'm making the past week, I feel pretty good about Sunday.'' ... McCarthy said WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring) is a ``longshot'' for Sunday's game. ... Jeff Saturday remains the starter though Evan Dietrich-Smith took snaps at center during practice.

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Gonzaga beats DeMatha on Hail Mary in bonkers WCAC championship game

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Gonzaga beats DeMatha on Hail Mary in bonkers WCAC championship game

The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) has a long history of football excellence, and the 2018 championship game was no exception. 

No. 2 Gonzaga College High School defeated No. 1 DeMatha Catholic High School, 46-43, in the title game at Catholic University of America on Sunday night thanks to three lead changes in the final 60 seconds and a game-winning Hail Mary. 

After allowing  DeMatha to race out to a 20-point lead, the Purple Eagles scored in the second quarter on a one-yard rushing touchdown. Dean Engram, son of Baltimore Ravens’ WR coach Bobby Engram, caught a 35-yard pass to score again for Gonzaga, closing the deficit to just six at 20-14. DeMatha rushed in another touchdown and intercepted Gonzaga’s next pass before entering the half at 26-14.

Both powerhouses scored a touchdown in the third, leaving the teams to fight until the very end of the fourth quarter in order determine the 2018 championship. That's when things got extra weird.

With 39 seconds left, Gonzaga's Sam Sweeney caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Williams to give the Eagles a 40-36 lead. 

But on the ensuing kickoff DeMatha senior Dominic Logan-Nealy returned the kick to the end zone, giving DeMatha a 43-40 lead with just 15 seconds left.

Gonzaga would get another crack at the title, and they did not let it go to waste. Williams hurled a desperation pass to the end zone with no time remaining. Eagles' receiver John Marshall got his hands on the pass and snagged the game-winning touchdown catch to give Gonzaga the stunning 46-43 win. 

The winners immediately rushed to celebrate with their student section, but the protective fencing separating the two was ultimately torn down.

The WCAC champions end the year 9-3. Head Coach Randy Trivers emotionally addressed his troops after their battle, reminding them that Gonzaga won their first title on Catholic University of America’s field:

DeMatha ended its season 8-3.

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NFC East Update: Division race tightens as Redskins stumble, Cowboys surge

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USA Today Sports

NFC East Update: Division race tightens as Redskins stumble, Cowboys surge

When the sun came up Sunday morning, the Redskins held a two-game lead in the NFC East and looked to have a clear route to a division title. 

By the time the sun went down, a lot changed. 

Washington lost at home in a crazy game to Houston, but big picture, the more important outcome was the broken leg for Alex Smith. The Redskins now turn to backup Colt McCoy, and while the Burgundy and Gold remain in first place, their lead shrunk.

  1. Washington Redskins (6-4, 2-0) - Talk about a roller coaster game. The Redskins got down early to the Texans, trailing 10-0 in the first quarter, but fought all the way back. In the process, the team lost Smith for the season, but McCoy played well when he entered the game. A veteran in Jay Gruden's system, McCoy should be able to step in and run the offense without any hesitation. Will that be enough? What isn't being talked about in Washington: a suddenly slumping run defense. A huge game looms Thursday against Ezekiel Elliott and a surging Cowboys squad. Up next: Nov. 22 @ Dallas, 4 p.m.
  2. Dallas Cowboys (5-5, 2-1) - It seemed like the Cowboys season was over a few weeks ago after a humbling home loss on Monday Night Football to the Titans. Two weeks later, the script has flipped. Dallas won their second straight game on Sunday, holding off a late Atlanta rally and winning the game on a last-second field goal. Elliott went for 201 total yards from scrimmage and the Cowboys young defense continued to make impressive plays. Jerry Jones' team struggles on the road, but at home, the Cowboys are 3-1 this season. Up next: Nov. 22 vs Washington, 4 p.m.
  3. Philadelphia Eagles (4-6, 1-1) - Fans waiting for the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles to get it together might want to stop waiting. Philly got boat raced in New Orleans on Sunday, losing 48-7 and dropping to two games below .500. Carson Wentz threw three INTs in New Orleans and really, while the QB was bad in the Superdome, it's hard to pin the Eagles' woes on any one thing. The offense hasn't been very good, and the defense hasn't either. Sitting just two games back of the 'Skins and one behind Dallas, don't count the Eagles out yet. But don't really count them in either. Up next: Nov. 25th vs New York Giants, 1 p.m.
  4. New York Giants (3-7, 0-3) - Don't look now but the Giants might be the hottest team in the division. Or at least not the coldest team in the division. The Giants won their second game in a row on Sunday, a nail-biting 38-35 victory over Tampa. New York got out to a big lead before the Bucs crept back in it, but powered by four combined TDs between Saquon Barkley and Eli Manning, the Giants did enough. Simple arithmetic suggests the Giants are closer to a Top 5 draft pick than a playoff run, but hey, they haven't been eliminated yet. Crazy things happen in this league. Up next: Nov. 25th @ Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

 

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