Capitals

Peterson gets Vikings out quick in win over Bears

201212091506543778798-p2.jpeg

Peterson gets Vikings out quick in win over Bears

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The Metrodome roof held up just fine during Minnesota's latest heavy snowstorm.

It's the Chicago Bears who seem to be collapsing under the weight of December football.

Adrian Peterson rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and Harrison Smith returned an interception for a score to lead the Vikings to a 21-14 victory over the freefalling Bears on Sunday.

Almost two years to the day that a huge snowstorm felled the big white dome and forced the Bears-Vikings game to move across town to the University of Minnesota's stadium, another dose of wet snow came down as the Vikings prepared to host their division rivals. No problem this time around, for the roof or Peterson. The resilient running back ripped off a 51-yard run on the first play of the game and got the Vikings (7-6) out to a 14-0 lead before the first quarter was half over en route to a desperately needed victory.

``I think they'll look at the standings tomorrow and see that we're still right in the thick of it, just like we were when this week began,'' Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. ``For us, every game following will be like a playoff game.''

When the Bears (8-5) look at the standings on Monday, they will be a game behind the Packers, who beat Detroit, but still be ahead of Minnesota. It just didn't feel that way when they hobbled out of the stadium on Sunday afternoon. They were 7-1 and in prime position to win the NFC North at the season's midpoint, but have lost four of their last five games and seem to get a different key player injured every week.

This time it was quarterback Jay Cutler, who was crunched on a high-low hit by Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen in the fourth quarter. He finished the drive, but did not return for the final four minutes because of a neck injury. He was 22 of 44 for 260 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

With Brian Urlacher out indefinitely with an injured right hamstring and cornerback Tim Jennings missing the game because of a shoulder injury, the Bears are bruised and battered, to go along with beaten.

``Everybody has injuries. That's part of this league,'' defensive end Julius Peppers said. ``We're going to have to play through that. But obviously some of our better players are down. We need guys to step up and play.''

Few have rebounded from an injury the way Peterson has. The relentless runner tore the ACL in his left knee late last season, yet somehow has been able to comeback better than ever. He topped 100 yards for the seventh straight game to give him 1,600 yards this season - putting that hallowed 2,000 yard mark well within reach with three games to go.

More importantly for the Vikings, he carried the ball a season-high 31 times, the kind of broad-shouldered performance the offense desperately needed with quarterback Christian Ponder continuing to struggle in the passing game. Ponder was 11 of 17 for just 91 yards and one ugly interception, a back-footed throw into triple coverage that Major Wright easily snagged just before halftime.

No matter. The beleaguered quarterback had Peterson and an opportunistic defense to lean on. Rookie cornerback Josh Robinson picked off Cutler in the first quarter and returned it 44 yards to set up Peterson's second touchdown of the day. Smith gave them some much-needed breathing room in the third quarter when Cutler floated a pass over Brandon Marshall's head and into Smith's arms. The rookie took it back 56 yards for a 21-7 lead that held up.

``In the situation we're in, we have to win out,'' said Peterson, whose Vikings finish up with games at St. Louis, at Houston and home against Green Bay. ``That's the focus we have.

Jason Campbell came on in relief of Cutler and threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall late in the game, but it was a little too late for the Bears, who trail the Packers by a game heading into a showdown with the division leaders in Chicago next week. The Bears then finish up on the road at Arizona and Detroit. Their margin for error is getting smaller by the day.

``It's frustrating,'' safety Chris Conte said. ``We've had some injuries, but ultimately we have to come out and play better.''

Marshall had 10 catches for 160 yards, Alshon Jeffery had three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown and Matt Forte rushed for 85 yards on 13 carries for the Bears.

The late-season swoon is a familiar one under coach Lovie Smith, who fell to 15-18 in the final four games of a season. Last season, they lost five straight games after a 7-3 start and finished 8-8 to miss the playoffs.

``I'm just thinking about us getting back on a winning streak next week,'' Smith said. ``We're disappointed in how some of those games have gone, all of the games, really. We're disappointed in this game, but when you're disappointed like that and you have your rival coming up back at home, we have to rally. We'll feel bad, but then it's all on Green Bay.''

NOTES: Jennings, the NFL leader in interceptions, said he thinks there's a chance he can play against the Packers. ``Later in the week, it was getting better each and every day,'' he said, ``but the coaches decided to let it heal, which is smart because I still have a little soreness.'' ... The Vikings had more yards from interception returns (100), than they did in passing offense (91). ... Adam Podlesh handled the kickoff duties for K Robbie Gould, who strained his left calf in warm-ups. Gould did kick the two extra points.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

usatsi_10824378.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Capitals don't get Penguins for home opener, but Penguins will host Capitals in theirs

The Capitals found out who their opponent will be for the home opener on Oct. 3 and it's not the Pittsburgh Penguins.

And you know what? That's OK. Winning the Stanley Cup was awesome and the banner raising will be an incredible scene regardless. 

Plus, the Penguins need that night off because they have to get ready for their own home opener on Oct. 4 against...the Caps?

Wait, what?

In 2016, the Capitals were in attendance as the Penguins raised their Stanley Cup banner. That had to sting considering Pittsburgh eliminated Washington in the playoffs.

It has not become a tradition to make rivals watch as teams raise banners and there's nothing that said the NHL had to schedule the Penguins for Washington's home opener. But it does seem odd that the NHL is going to make the defending Stanley Cup champions play a back-to-back right out of the gate with the second end coming against their archrivals in Pittsburgh.

Hey Caps, it's the NHL here. Congrats again. Vegas is a hell of a city, am I right? So, listen...we thought about it and decided you won't get to raise your banner against your rivals. Sorry about that. We tried and we couldn't get them for your first game. Good news though, we moved it all the way up to the second game, we just couldn't get it any sooner than that. You'll be playing them the second game of the season...the night after your home opener...in Pittsburgh...for their home opener. Anyway, good luck on the repeat.

Makes sense.

Look, if Washington can't have Pittsburgh for the home opener fine. It would have been nice, but it's really not a big deal. Raising the banner will be special regardless of who the opponent will be. But don't turn around and make the Caps play in the Penguins' home opener the very next day.

The schedule makers did the Caps no favors with this one.

MORE CAPITALS COVERAGE:

Quick Links

Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

Redskins schedule preview: Week 15 vs. Jaguars

We’re previewing every game of the 2018 season with a look forward and a look back. Up today, it’s the game against the Jaguars. 

Week 15 December 16, TIAA Bank Field

2017 Jaguars: 10-6, First in AFC South, lost AFC championship game 

Projected 2018 wins per Westgate SuperBook: 9

Early line: Redskins +8

Key additions: G Andrew Norwell, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, WR Donte Moncrief, 

Key losses:WR Allen Hurns, WR Allen Robinson

Biggest questions: 

  • QB Blake Bortles was very inconsistent during the season and there was talk of the team looking for a replacement for him prior to their run in the playoffs. Does he have what it takes to get the team back into serious contention. 
  • The team also got an inconsistent season out of RB Leonard Fournette, the No. 4 pick in the draft. Can he put together the monster season that would justify his draft status and help elevate the Jaguars to elite status. 
  • The Jaguars went from 25thin scoring defense in 2016 to second last year. Will they fall back to the pack this year?

Series history

The Redskins lead the all-time series 5-1. The Jaguars only win against them came in 2002.

Series notables

The first time: September 28, 1997, Jack Kent Cooke Stadium—In the second game ever played at the Redskins’ new stadium, Jacksonville took a 9-0 lead in the second quarter, but then-Jags QB Mark Brunell threw a pair of interceptions that set up two Washington touchdowns and the Redskins won 24-12. Gus Frerotte threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns and Terry Allen gained 122 yards on 36 carries. 

The last time: November 14, 2012, FedEx Field—Jay Gruden got his first win as the Redskins’ head coach in this one. Robert Griffin III went out of this game early with an injury and Kirk Cousins passed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in his place. It was the defense that dominated this game, racking up 10 sacks, tying the team record set in 1977. Ryan Kerrigan got four of those sacks, tying the team individual record for sacks in a game. The Redskins won 41-10.

The best time: October 1, 2006, FedEx Field—A taught, exciting game came to an explosive end when Santana Moss snared a pass that Mark Brunell perhaps should not have thrown and streaked to the end zone, giving the Redskins a 36-30 overtime win over Jacksonville.

The reason the throw was risky was that two defenders were near Moss as Brunell fired it to the speedy receiver. Somehow both of them missed it. Moss grabbed it, spun around and bolted the rest of the way to complete the 68-yard game winner.

It was Moss’ third touchdown reception of the day. In the first quarter, he caught a long pass from Brunell and executed a nifty spin move near the goal line to complete the 55-yard touchdown play. An eight-yard Moss TD catch early in the third quarter put the Redskins up by 10 but the Jags battled back to tie it with six seconds left. That set up Moss’ overtime heroics. 

The worst time: November 10, 2002, Alltel Stadium—The Redskins came into the game riding a two-game winning streak and at 4-4 they were squarely in playoff contention. A strong running game had been their best asset during their surge to .500 and, with the Jaguars sporting the worst run defense in the NFL, there was every reason to believe that the Redskins would take the land route to another win.

But coach Steve Spurrier had different ideas. "I was dumb enough to think we could throw it up and down the field," Spurrier said. "We ran a little bit here and there. We had a little success there early, and I got away from it too much. The second quarter, I kept thinking at midfield, we could throw the ball from there. But we didn't do it very well. So, looking back, I called a lousy game."

His defense didn’t play very well either. The Redskins scored first but the Jaguars scored 26 unanswered points and came out with a 26-7 win.

Redskins schedule series

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