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Rams defense faces challenge against Seahawks

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Rams defense faces challenge against Seahawks

ST. LOUIS (AP) It's the St. Louis Rams' turn to try to figure how to stop an opponent that has been on a nearly unprecedented scoring binge.

The Seattle Seahawks have averaged 50 points per game in the past three weeks, the most points in a three-week span since the 1950 Los Angeles Rams.

``I don't think I've ever come across a team that's scored 50 points a game three consecutive weeks, and then faced them in the fourth,'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. ``So, if we hold them to under 50 (points) is that good?''

St. Louis is coming off its fourth victory in five games on the strength of five turnovers at Tampa Bay, including four interceptions. The Rams have 17 on the season, ninth best in the league, but are second worst in fumble recoveries with just four.

Defensive end Chris Long noted that turnovers do not serve as a prerequisite for a victory, while adding it would obviously make the task easier against the Seahawks.

He believes the Rams' offense can score enough points and the defense can limit Seattle enough for St. Louis to win.

But when someone pointed out that the Buccaneers' offense wasn't playing as well as the Seahawks, Long said you can't compare the Seahawks' recent output to anyone in the league.

``No one is ... on the planet. The best offense on the planet,'' he said. ``We're just going to have to prepare the best we can for it and try to slow them down a little bit.''

Seattle coach Pete Carroll had no explanation for his team's recent scoring prowess.

He said no singular event or person's play turned his team from one that had to scrap for victories - five of its first seven wins were by a touchdown or fewer - into one that outscored its past three opponents 150-30.

He said the difference has been the maturation of his rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the health of his wide receivers and luck.

``No, I think we've been very fortunate,'' he said. ``But we go into every game hoping we can score a touchdown and then we just try to get another one if we do. I don't have any big claims. If you want me to make a claim about how we can't be stopped, I can't do that because we don't have a clue about that one.

``We're just going to try to make a first down and get in the end zone once and try to get there again.''

The Seahawks have also relied on a stingy defense - tops in the league in points allowed with 15.5 per game - and the second-ranked rushing offense with 161.7 yards a game.

Fisher said the difference between the Seahawks of late September, when the Rams beat them at home 19-13, and now are numerous.

``It's a much improved team,'' he said. ``The offense is much more explosive and I think that's because of the quarterback play.

``You've got to get them into third down. You've got to win on early downs and win on third downs and get off the field, if possible.''

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Capitals’ losing streak extends to six in stunning OT loss to Sharks

Capitals’ losing streak extends to six in stunning OT loss to Sharks

The Capitals were one second away from snapping a five-game losing streak, but instead saw that streak extended to six games as Evander Kane scored with one second left to force overtime and Tomas Hertl scored the winner in a 7-6 overtime thriller.

Here are five reasons the Caps lost.

1. Evander Kane’s miracle buzzer-beater

The Caps clung to a 6-5 lead late in the third when Kane found the puck on his stick in front of the net and shot it in with just one second remaining on the clock.

Just one second away from claiming two points and ending a miserable five-game losing streak, Kane’s goal forced overtime and helped extend Washington’s streak to six.

2. Hertl’s hatty

Ovechkin netted a hat trick for the home team, but Hertl matched him with three goals of his own to win the game.

Hertl scored two power play goals, including one in the third to pull the Sharks within one. He also scored the overtime winner to crush the Caps’ hopes of snapping their losing streak.

3. 12 seconds

For a team that has lost five straight and looking for some confidence, you could not have drawn up a worse start to this game. A won faceoff for the Sharks went straight to Brent Burns at the blue line. He threw the puck towards the net and it bounced off John Carlson right to the stick of Joe Pavelski who backhanded it in.

Braden Holtby had committed to the original shot and there was no way for him to recover leaving an empty net for Pavelski to shoot on.

It took just 12 seconds for the Sharks to get on the boards.

4. Too many penalties

You can’t give up six power plays in a game and live to talk about it.

San Jose tied the game at 2 in the second period thanks to a power play goal from Hertl who unleashed a one-timer from the slot to beat Holtby. In the third period Washington took two different minor penalties and the Sharks cashed in on the second. The goal came from Hertl who unleased a one-timer from the slot to beat Holtby.

The two power play goals looked almost identical. The second made the score 6-5, pulled San Jose within one of Washington and sparked the comeback.

5. The first minute of overtime

For nearly the first minute of overtime, the Caps looked as dominant as a team can look. They would not allow the puck to get out of the Sharks’ zone and got a number of opportunities to finish the game including a 3-on-1 with Tom Wilson’s shot just deflecting wide.

If the losing streak has taught Washington anything, it’s that they must take advantage of their opportunities. They didn’t finish the Sharks at the start of overtime and Hertl ended up with the game-winner.

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Baseball Hall of Fame results 2019: Oriole great Mike Mussina gets long overdue call to the Hall

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Baseball Hall of Fame results 2019: Oriole great Mike Mussina gets long overdue call to the Hall

Mike Mussina was already recognized as one of the greatest pitchers in Orioles history. Now, he’s been enshrined as one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

In his sixth year of eligibility, Mussina received 76.7% of the vote, barely surpassing the necessary 75% mark by just seven votes. He’ll be inducted this summer along with Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith, Harold Baines, and the late Roy Halladay.

Over the course of his 18-year career, Mussina compiled 270 wins to go against just 153 losses. He had a 3.68 ERA and struck out 2,813 hitters, the 20th most in baseball history. He also was an American League All-Star five times and won seven Gold Gloves.

Mussina’s career in many ways can be described as “close, but no cigar.” He threw multiple one-hit, no-walk shutouts with the Orioles, including against the Indians when he threw 8⅓ perfect innings before allowing a single. He also was one pitch away with the Yankees against the Red Sox before Carl Everett singled with two outs and two strikes in the ninth inning.

He reached two World Series, both in New York, but lost both times. He finished 2nd in Cy Young voting in 1999, and would have been deserving if Pedro Martinez hadn’t had an all-time historically great season. He finished just 30 wins shy of 300 for his career, and it took him nearly two decades to reach 20 wins in a season, finally hitting the milestone in 2008.

Finally, with only four years remaining on the ballot, he made the Hall of Fame. This time, he didn’t fall short.

Mussina’s Hall of Fame case has been boosted by the rise of sabermetrics, By WAR, he was an obvious selection.

His numbers likely would have looked even better with more favorable circumstances. Mussina spent his entire career in the vaunted American League East, a division full of big bats and hitter-friendly ballparks.

He all spent the bulk of his career pitching in what has since become known as the Steroid Era, an obvious detriment to his overall pitching stats.

Former players have congratulated Mussina and praised both his raw stuff and his off-the-charts baseball IQ. Stuff, plus smarts, plus durability meant he was the total package.

Mussina was always destined to be an Oriole as Baltimore drafted him twice. In 1987, they took him in the eleventh round before the pitcher elected to go to college. In 1990, after his junior season, they took him in the first round.

The starting pitcher affectionately referred to as “Moose” spent a decade in Baltimore before playing the final eight seasons of his career in New York. Because of this, a debate has raged on for years about which cap he would wear should he ever be elected into the Hall of Fame.

Previously, the player himself was able to choose. Nowadays, the Hall makes the call. For some, however, the answer is obvious.

Mussina finally became a 20-game winner with the Yankees, and was obviously much more visible playing for the biggest franchise in the sport. That said, he made a much larger impact in Baltimore, both in statistics, and in stature.

When Orioles fans point to the team’s miserable track record trying to develop homegrown starting pitchers, they often point to Mussina as the last success story. The fact that their most recent win in pitcher development is now in the Hall of Fame is a tough look for a franchise that once started four 20-game winners in the same rotation.

If he does go in as an Oriole, Mussina will become the seventh member to wear the Baltimore cap, joining Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Jr. and manager Earl Weaver.

Mussina is in a unique spot in Orioles history, as many of the Hall of Famers from Baltimore are thought of as Orioles through and through. None of Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Jim Palmer and Earl Weaver ever wore another uniform.

“Moose” famously spurned the Orioles to join their bitter rivals when he signed with the Yankees, though it’s hard to blame him for taking the most money offered. When asked on MLB Network after the election announcement, Mussina was very appreciative towards both ballclubs and credits both organizations for getting him to this point.

It’s a slightly complicated history, but one that has largely been forgiven with time. When the announcement was made, the consensus reaction on Twitter in Birdland was that of joy for Mussina.

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