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Playoff bound Seattle hopes to play with edge

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Playoff bound Seattle hopes to play with edge

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Earl Thomas says there is no room on the Seattle Seahawks' bandwagon. If you weren't on the ride already, Thomas says it's too late.

Even if the Seahawks are suddenly one of the teams people are trying to latch onto as they surge toward the postseason.

``Don't jump on the bandwagon now,'' Thomas said Sunday night. ``We have a chip on our shoulder and we play with it, and showed it.''

Seattle won its fourth straight game by beating NFC West-leading San Francisco 42-13 on Sunday night before a national TV audience.

That clinched at least a wild-card berth for the Seahawks sending Pete Carroll to the postseason for the second time in his three seasons in Seattle.

The win also kept Seattle's slim hopes of winning the division alive and with it exactly what no one else in the NFC wants: being forced to make a trip to Seattle for the playoffs.

Seattle needs to beat St. Louis in the season finale and get an Arizona win at San Francisco for the Seahawks to win the division.

``Now we're there with the opportunity to still win a division championship which would be huge for us and that obviously takes a lot of work somewhere else but we have to take care of our business first,'' Carroll said on Monday.

Seattle (10-5) was already rolling toward the postseason with consecutive games reaching the 50-point mark, becoming the first team since 1950 to reach the half-century mark in back-to-back games. But those came against lesser competition in blowouts of Arizona and Buffalo.

The win over the 49ers legitimized what Seattle has been building. The Seahawks scored with ease on what was the top scoring defense in the NFL, led by rookie Russell Wilson's four TD passes. And the win showed the Seahawks could be a tough opponent in the postseason.

Seattle doesn't hide that it plays with a feeling of being overlooked. The Seahawks' most notable moment this season was the ``Fail Mary'' against Green Bay where the Seahawks were on the receiving end of a blown call that eventually helped settle a labor dispute with the officials.

The blowout of the 49ers grabbed the kind of attention the Seahawks have wanted.

``The chip on the shoulder? That's not something we just manufactured for the sake of getting fired up. The guys in this room feel that. Almost every one of these guys has their reasons. I feel like that myself. We just kind of share in that chip and we don't even have to pass it around,'' Carroll said.

``We all have one. That's just kind of how it's been. Just look, we're up here in the Northwest and they like talking about us after they talk about everybody else. And that's OK. That's just the way it is. It doesn't amount to much but sometimes it does fuel you a little to keep you going. It works for us so we'll stay with it.''

The 42 points Seattle scored against San Francisco were the most allowed by the 49ers since 2009 and capped a remarkable stretch for Seattle.

The Seahawks have outscored their past three opponents 150-30. When David Akers kicked a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter, that snapped a streak of 100 straight points scored at home by Seattle - the final 21 against the New York Jets, all 58 against Arizona and the first 21 against the 49ers.

The Jacksonville Jaguars scored 94 points in eight home games this season. Seattle was the first team since the 1991 Washington Redskins to score at least 100 straight points at home.

Wilson will enter the finale needing two touchdown passes to become the NFL's leader for TD throws by a rookie, passing Peyton Manning. In the past four weeks, Wilson has eight touchdowns passing and three rushing.

``We have a frontline, first-rate quarterback going out there in these games and you are seeing that,'' Carroll said. ``We trust him in his decision-making because he's proven worthy of that.''

Seattle moved to the top of the league in scoring defense by solving the run-stopping woes that have hurt the team for the latter half of the season.

The problems started in Week 7 when the 49ers' game plan surprised the Seahawks and they rushed for 175 yards as a team, including 131 by Frank Gore.

Seattle was giving up a league-worst 5.3 yards per carry since that loss to the 49ers, but returned to its base principles that served them well the first six weeks of the season.

The Seahawks never let Gore get started on Sunday. His longest run was 18 yards, but his other five carries gained just 10 yards. Even the running of Colin Kaepernick was corralled with the 49ers' mobile QB held to 31 yards.

``We've been playing well for quite a while and I can feel it in the room and the guys can understand it and all,'' Carroll said. ``But that doesn't mean anything unless we can do it again.''

Notes: Carroll said LBs Leroy Hill (hamstring) and Malcolm Smith (groin) might be in question for the regular season finale due to their injuries. ... CB Marcus Trufant (hamstring) is expected to practice Wednesday for the first time since before Week 13 at Chicago. ... Seattle activated SS Winston Guy from the exempt list and waived WR Deon Butler.

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A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

A big Year 2 ahead, Lamar Jackson isn’t worried about Madden ratings

The number eight is sports royalty in the city of Baltimore thanks to Cal Ripken Jr.

If Lamar Jackson has the career many are hoping for, he’ll be another reason for that one day down the road.

For now, he’s a young, athletic quarterback entering his second season in Charm City. But his successful rookie year hasn’t been reflected in Madden NFL 20’s newest ratings.

Jackson came in with an overall rating of 76, tied for 24th among all quarterbacks. Unsurprisingly, his athleticism is highly-regarded, as he leads all signal-callers in speed, acceleration, agility, and elusiveness.

Questions abound about his throwing abilities, leading to the low rating. But that’s not a concern for Jackson himself.

“I can’t feel no way,” the quarterback told media members prior to throwing out the first pitch at the Orioles-Nationals game Wednesday night. “You know, I don’t make Madden. That’s them. But I feel like our team, we’re going to show ‘em this season.”

Jackson continued to praise the Ravens roster. When asked about the high ratings for teammates like Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Earl Thomas, Jackson put his thoughts quite succinctly: “We look stacked!”

Of course, with speed and acceleration ratings like Jackson has, it’s fun to imagine how he might fit in on a baseball diamond as well.

“Whew, somewhere in the middle, to make a play,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde decided when asked where the Ravens quarterback might play on his roster.

“I’m looking forward to meeting him. I’m a big football fan, so watched him play a lot. And if he wanted to play center field or up the middle, it’d be great,” Hyde continued.

The speedy quarterback agreed, though it came with a caveat.

“Probably,” Jackson quickly answered when asked about his best fit being center field. “But you know, I’m the Ravens QB right now, so I’m good.”

He doesn’t know what his walk-up song would be if he played baseball, but Jackson was definitive about one thing at least: his hot dog preferences.

“I don’t really eat mustard,” he emphasized. “So I just put ketchup, relish...I just go from there. Pretty standard.”

When he’s not eating hot dogs, Jackson is working hard to build chemistry with his new receiving corps, and he seemed optimistic about the results it will bring on the field.

“Looking pretty good,” he described. “You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Knowing how many dual Orioles and Ravens fans there are in Baltimore, Jackson was also happy to provide a little hope as the city’s attention starts to shift from baseball to football. He gave a message to O’s fans who have sat through months of losing baseball and are looking to the Ravens to bring winning back to the city.

“Look forward to us coming out and balling,” he said. “Can’t say too much right now, [the] season’s not here!”

The Ravens season will be here soon enough, and when it is, Jackson will be ready to go out and show both local and national fans what he can do, regardless of what his Madden rating says.

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Why Dwayne Haskins could be the first Ohio State QB to find real success in the NFL

Why Dwayne Haskins could be the first Ohio State QB to find real success in the NFL

The Ohio State University has one of the most prestigious football programs in all of college football.

Year in and year out, the Buckeyes are National Championship contenders, and also produce some of the best NFL players of any school. Ohio State has produced 81 first-round NFL Draft picks in their program history, tied with the University of Southern California for the most of any school.

But for whatever reason, quarterbacks that hail from the Columbus-based university don't tend to usually find success at the next level. The Redskins need this trend to end now. The Burgundy and Gold invested a first-round pick on former Buckeye Dwayne Haskins, who they expect to be their franchise quarterback for the next several years.

The Redskins Talk podcast sat down with Ohio State football beat reporter Bill Rabinowitz last week to discuss Haskins' lone season as the Buckeyes' starter, his leadership qualities, how he's different from past Ohio State quarterbacks and why he might be the first former Buckeye QB to experience real NFL success.

Despite only spending one year as the Buckeyes starter, Haskins turned in the best statistical season of any Ohio State quarterback in program history.  

He shattered the Big Ten record for most passing yards in a season, throwing for more than 1,000 yards more than the previous record holder. He also broke Drew Brees' Big Ten record for most passing touchdowns in a single-season, tossing 50 in 2018, compared to Brees' 39.

"Maybe the most impressive single season by any Ohio State quarterback," Rabinowitz said on Haskins' 2018 season.

Over the past couple of decades, the Buckeyes have had some very successful college quarterbacks, they just were unable to translate it to the next level.

"Ohio State's history at every other position is pretty impressive in the NFL," Rabinowitz said. "Probably the best quarterback they've every produced is Mike Tomzack in terms of a pro career. He was undrafted. Troy Smith looked like he had the chance to do that, but never really panned out in the pros."

Before Haskins, the previous two Buckeye quarterbacks, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, combined to win a National Championship for Ohio State. Neither one has been able to establish themselves in the NFL. Other recent examples include Terrelle Pryor and Braxton Miller, who both had spectacular careers as Buckeye QBs before switching to wide receiver in the NFL.

But Rabinowitz says Haskins is "on a different level than those guys as a passer." Unlike many of the past Ohio State quarterbacks, Haskins relies on his arm a lot more than his legs. 

Some draft experts were skeptical of Haskins because of the type of offense Ohio State ran, which included a lot of short, quick passes. But Rabinowitz believes Haskins' arm will allow him to be successful in the NFL.

"Sure there were some shovel passes, but [Haskins] made some deep throws that were just spot on," he said. "Just beautiful, majestic throws. Even from high in the press box, you just went 'wow.' There should be no question about Dwayne Haskins ability to make every throw."

Of course, Rabinowitz was asked by the podcast crew the question that will dominate training camp headlines: Should Haskins start Week 1?

While Rabinowitz admitted that he was not too familiar with the Redskins' QB situation, he did say that because of Haskins' lack of experience, "it may be best not to throw him in with the wolves right away."

"I covered Tim Couch with the Browns in 1999, we saw what happened with him," Rabinowitz said. "Carson Palmer with the Bengals, he didn't play at all his first year, and he was a Heisman Trophy winner. I see the benefits. I know it's tempting to have a first-round pick and want to play him, and if he's their best option, maybe he should play. [Haskins] will do everything in his power to be as ready as he can be, but the NFL is different than the college game."

Training camp and the preseason will be telling for Haskins as to how soon Redskins' fans can expect him to be on the field.

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