Nationals

Rams still coming to grips with rare tie

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Rams still coming to grips with rare tie

ST. LOUIS (AP) Danny Amendola's first game in a month for the St. Louis Rams was a huge success. And that's without the 142 yards on a pair of big plays that were nullified by penalties.

A day after repeated mistakes cost the Rams an upset at San Francisco, the wide receiver said he'd try to take the positives out the NFL's first tie game in four years.

Easy to say, hard to swallow.

``It's frustrating,'' said Amendola, understating the obvious. ``We made a lot of good plays. At the same time, we left a lot of plays out there.''

Exaggerating just a bit, Amendola added: ``It's just a long time to give it your everything. I mean, it's 5-6 hours long.''

Well, maybe it seemed like that after leaving the field feeling curiously empty. The actual game time was 3 hours and 50 minutes.

Defensive end Chris Long said if fans kept their eyes on the field and disregarded the scoreboard, it would be easy to see the Rams took a major step forward against one of the NFL's top teams. They did it without a pair of rookie starters, too, with cornerback Janoris Jenkins and wide receiver Chris Givens suspended for the game for violating team rules.

Both players have been reinstated for this week's game against the New York Jets.

But with a wry chuckle, Long added that it's impossible to factor out the bottom line.

``Shoot, you know, we can be proud of the way we gave the effort, and like I said we went toe-to-toe with a team we have great respect for,'' Long said. ``A tie, who knows what that means?''

What it leaves is a bad taste.

``I never had to think about it until now and I sure don't like it,'' Long said. ``I think everybody on the field would have liked to have gone back out and just settled it.''

Coming off a bye following a blowout loss to the Patriots in London, the Rams were much improved on offense with 458 yards and three touchdowns. But the defense failed to produce a turnover for the fourth straight game and faded late in regulation, allowing two touchdowns and a field goal on the 49ers' last three possessions in regulation with backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick in place of injured Alex Smith.

Trailing 17-7, the 49ers scored two touchdowns in a span of 17 seconds, capitalizing on a lost fumble by rookie kickoff returner Isaiah Pead to take the lead when Frank Gore was untouched on a 20-yard run.

``If we can get them off the field there, bottle that kid up a little bit better, we wouldn't even be talking about this,'' Long said. ``We had an opportunity to end that thing.''

Sam Bradford threw for 275 yards with no interceptions and a pair of touchdowns, including a 2-yarder to Austin Pettis that put the Rams ahead 24-21 with 1:09 to go in regulation. But the strong numbers offered Bradford no sense of fulfillment.

``It's a weird feeling,'' Bradford said Sunday. ``I think the mood in this locker room was disappointment.''

The worst of it was reconciling all of those wasted opportunities.

Fisher blamed the delay of game penalty that nullified Greg Zuerlein's apparent game-winning 53-yard field goal in overtime on rookie mistakes. Fisher called a timeout after second down to discuss the kick and tell players, ``They will not ice you,'' because the 49ers were out of timeouts.

``So, get out there, get set, kick it through those two poles because we've got a plane waiting for us,'' Fisher said. ``It's just unfortunate, just one of those things.''

Both Zuerlein and holder Johnny Hekker, also the punter, are rookies.

Amendola was among the NFL leaders with 32 receptions before a collarbone injury sidelined him for four games, and he came back in top form with 11 catches for 102 yards. That's without a pair of would-be game-changers.

His 62-yard punt return to the 2 in the third quarter was nullified by a penalty for blocking above the waist on Justin Cole. His 80-yard reception on the first snap of overtime - also to the 2 - was wiped out because of an illegal formation.

Officials huddled after Amendola's 80-yard catch before throwing a flag because they didn't have a tight end on the left side of the line. Fisher had no complaint about the timing, saying, ``They got it right.''

Fisher was fine with the penalty on the punt return, too, saying it looked like a legal block from one angle but ``from the angle where the official was, I can see where it was a block in the back.''

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AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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

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3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

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USA TODAY

3 Up, 3 Down: Allow Juan Soto to distract you from Bryce Harper

Nationals fans are teetering on the edge. 

On one hand, the Nats are 3.5 games out of first place after a 10-week span full of injuries and underperformance. The team just acquired All-Star closer Kelvin Herrera, and their 19-year-old left fielder looks like an All-Star already. 

On the other hand, doom is imminent. The Monstars stole Bryce Harper's abilities at some point over the last three weeks, Steven Strasburg can't stay healthy, and the offense is pushing everyone's patience to the limit. 

So who's overperforming? Who's underperforming? Who's out there just trying their very best? LET'S LIST. 

Three Up

1. Juan Soto

Our large young son Juan continues to impress. He's now hitting .325/.411/.602 with a 1.013 OPS in 95 plate appearances over 25 games. That means we're mercifully starting to leave the 'fluky start' narrative behind. He's been the best hitter on the Nationals by a wide margain since he got called up - although that's perhaps more of an indicitment on the rest of the lineup than it is on Soto. Still, in less than a month he's probably earned the starting left field spot for the rest of the summer. Not bad. 

2. Justin Miller

Miller is 31, on his third team in four years, and owns a career ERA north of 4.50. Despite all of this, Miller's been the best reliever in baseball since coming up for the Nats. Of relief pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched (we hear your sample size comment and are not going to acknolwdge it), no one has a better FIP than Miller (0.64). He's striking out over half of the batters he sees and has yet to walk a single person this year. All the elite relief pitchers are already at 30-40 innings pitched, so Miller has a while to go before these stats mean a whole lot. If he stays even 75 percent as good as he's started, the Nats' bullpen looks scary. 

3. Michael A. Taylor

Have yourself a week or two, Michael A.! The centerfielder is slashing .500/.556/.583 over the last 14 days, the first of many "Maybe He Put It Together?!" runs we'll see from him this year. He also has six stolen bases during that span, more than anyone else on the team. His plate discipline has been better over the last two weeks, with a BB% a shade over 11 percent - only behind Juan Soto for highest on the team. Juan Soto, man. 

Three Down

1. Bryce Harper

A couple things here. We'll start with the admission that Bryce Harper is obviously not having a superb year. We've already briefly touched on why looking at only his batting average is a lazy way of judging his season, and we stand by that. With that said - Harper's had a bad season. The last month has been particularly painful. There's no way of dressing up a .189/.278/.400 slashline over the last 30 days. Still, his contact has been as great as his luck terrible - there's a positive regression coming, we promise. 

2. Pedro Severino 

And you think Harper's been slumping?? Over the same 30 days, Severino has hit .098/.179/.115 with a .294 OPS. He's essentially daring the Nats to put together a trade package for JT Realmuto at this point. He has six hits over his last 68 plate appearances and five of them are singles. 

3. Shawn Kelley

Kelley owns a 6.09 FIP and a 4.32 ERA over the last month (10 games, 8.1 innings pitched). He's walking close to nine percent of the hitters he's faced during that time. He has a 12.5 HR/FB over the last month. With the trade for Kelvin Herrera and the sudden emergence of Justin Miller, Kelley's role going forward isn't quite clear anymore. 

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Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

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USA TODAY Sports

Wizards 2018 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jerome Robinson

The Washington Wizards hold the 15th and 44th overall picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects projected to be picked around where the Wizards will select...

2018 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jerome Robinson

School: Boston College
Position: Shooting guard
Age: 21
Height: 6-5
Weight: 188
Wingspan: 6-7
Max vertical: N/A

2017/18 stats: 20.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.3 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 48.5 FG%, 40.9 3PT% (2.3 3PT/5.7 3PA), 83.0 FT%
Player comparison: Danny Green
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 29th, NBADraft.net 16th, Bleacher Report 19th, Sports Illustrated 17th

5 things to know:

*A three-year player at BC, Robinson developed into a big-time scorer before making the leap to the NBA. He averaged 18.7 points as a sophomore and then 20.7 points as a junior while improving his shooting percentages across the board. He went from 42.3 percent from the field as a sophomore to 48.5 in 2017-18.

*Robinson turned himself into an excellent three-point shooter. After shooting just 33.3 percent as a sophomore, he got that up to 40.9 percent as a junior and on 5.7 attempts per game. That trajectory bodes well for Robinson's chances at the next level.

*He has a quick release on his jumper, giving him the ability to be effective on catch-and-shoot plays off screens. Robinson could develop into a reliable scorer who doesn't need the ball in his hands as a primary focus of the offense. He also showed the ability to throw down some powerful dunks and finish with creativity at the rim. He didn't record a vertical leap at the NBA Combine, but playing above and around the rim didn't appear to be a problem in college.

*Though it didn't show in his last season at Boston College, Robinson was adept at forcing turnovers in his first two years. He averaged 1.6 steals per game across his freshman and sophomore seasons and 16 times in his career had three steals or more in a game.

*Questions for Robinson would include his versatility and speed. Some draft evaluators wonder if he will be able to get separation off the dribble at the NBA level. Also, he put up decent rebounding and assists numbers in college but didn't exactly stand out in either category.

Fit with Wizards: Robinson would give the Wizards depth at the shooting guard position and they need that. He could help Bradley Beal pare down his minutes and offer a scoring punch off the Wizards' bench. The Wizards could use a reliable shooter to help space the floor for Kelly Oubre, Jr. and others in the second unit.

The problems with Robinson's fit would be his lack of positional versatility and what appears to be a relatively low ceiling. He's not the freak athlete that some of his counterparts are at shooting guard. If the Wizards are choosing between Robinson and guys like Zhaire Smith and Lonnie Walker IV, they could view the latter two as more enticing because of their potential. Robinson would represent a safer pick while others could pay off big-time and have a greater impact on the franchise in the long-term.

Best highlight video:

More draft prospect profiles:

Kevin Knox, PF, Kentucky

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Robert Williams, PF/C, Texas A&M

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, Wichita State

Gary Trent, Jr., SG, Duke

Lonnie Walker IV, SG, Miami

Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, IMG Academy

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Chandler Hutchison, SG/SF, Boise State

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

Mitchell Robinson, C, Western Kentucky

Troy Brown, SG/SF, Oregon

Donte DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Moritz Wagner, PF/C, Michigan

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

For more on the NBA Draft, check out our latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

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