Nationals

RG3' 76-yard run leads Redskins over Vikings 38-26

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RG3' 76-yard run leads Redskins over Vikings 38-26

LANDOVER, Md. (AP) One week after his first NFL concussion, Robert Griffin III ran more, ran smarter, ran bigger.

And won.

He left the Minnesota Vikings in his wake, never more so than on his 76-yard touchdown run that put the game away for the Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter. His final rushing tally: 13 carries, 138 yards, two touchdowns. His passing numbers: 17 for 22 for 182 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a 97.2 rating.

The scoreboard: Redskins 38, Vikings 26. The soundtrack: Chants of ``RG3!''

``I told the team,'' Griffin said, ``I wasn't going to leave them hanging.''

Griffin was upset that he wasn't there for his teammates after a shot to the head forced him to leave the seven-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons a week earlier, and it was fair to wonder whether the hit - and the NFL-required battery of post-concussion tests that followed - would stop RG3 from being RG3.

No way. He did run out of bounds a couple of times, and he slid once to avoid a tackle, but the former college hurdler also produced the longest touchdown run by an NFL quarterback since Kordell Stewart scampered 80 yards for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Carolina Panthers in 1996 - as well as the fifth highest rushing total for a quarterback in league history and the most since Michael Vick ran for 166 in 2006.

``You try to play smart,'' Griffin said. ``But stay aggressive.''

Coach Mike Shanahan wasn't about to rein in the rookie. Quite the contrary. The coach figured that Griffin's designed runs made the game safer for the quarterback because otherwise the vaunted Vikings pass rush would have blitzed away on passing downs and piled up a few bone-jarring sacks.

``Robert, by doing what he does, keeping the defense off balance, really gives him a chance, in my opinion, to stay healthier,'' Shanahan said.

During one stretch, Griffin ran on six consecutive Redskins offensive plays, including a 7-yard score. He has six rushing touchdowns on the year, already surpassing the previous single-season franchise record of four.

And he's just six games into his career.

The win broke an eight-game home losing streak for Washington (3-3). The Redskins fell behind 9-0 early after being outgained 148-7, then responded with 24 straight points during a stretch in which they outgained the Vikings 225-14.

Minnesota made a game of it with two fourth-quarter touchdowns and was starting to use its timeouts, hoping to get the ball back, when Griffin faced third-and-6 at his own 24 with just under 3 minutes to play.

Griffin dropped back to pass and saw an open lane. The Redskins needed a first down to keep eating up the clock. RG3 gave them more.

``I took off running and got to the sideline, thought about running out of bounds - because everyone's been telling me that lately,'' he said with a big smile. ``And I felt like I had the guy outflanked, and then I just took off running. And the rest is history.''

Griffin didn't stop until he took a seat on the front row, performing what is quickly becoming known as the ``Landover Leap.''

``When Robert gets in top gear, it's like watching a track meet,'' receiver Santana Moss said. ``And he ain't coming in second.''

He also drew two penalties in the game, one on a horse collar tackle and another for roughing-the-passer, although the roughing call was perhaps aided by the acting skills Griffin has acquired from doing commercials. The official didn't throw the flag for Erin Henderson's slight shove until Griffin was on the ground making an appeal.

``He hit me good,'' said Griffin, laughing his way through the description. ``Come on, man. It wasn't like a basketball flop. I sold it pretty well. I mean, the ball was clearly gone, guys. It was a great job of me and the ref being on the same page.''

The Vikings (4-2) had their three-game losing streak snapped, paying the price for promising possessions that fell four points short. Drives that got inside the 10 yielded field goals of 20, 27 and 27 yards in the first quarter.

``We had a chance to go up 21-nothing,'' receiver Percy Harvin pointed out, ``and we didn't do that.''

That's a big mistake, especially when Griffin is the other team's quarterback.

``He's a gifted player. Like I told him, just talking to him, looking him in his eyes: He's got the heart of a champ,'' said Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who ran 17 times for 79 yards. ``That's easy to see.''

NOTES: Minnesota's Christian Ponder went 35 for 52 for 352 yards with two TDs and two interceptions. He was also credited with a lost fumble when the ball slipped out of his hand to linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. ... Former Vikings safety Madieu Williams returned an interception 24 yards for Washington's fourth defensive touchdown of the year. The Redskins scored only 43 points off turnovers last year; they already have 49 this year. ... K Kai Forbath, making his Redskins debut, made a 50-yarder in his only FG attempt. ... Redskins S Jordan Pugh left the fourth quarter twice with a head injury. The Redskins say he was cleared to return after the first injury, then was diagnosed with a concussion after the second one.

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Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

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Juan Soto's 2-run double carries Nationals past Orioles

WASHINGTON -- A teenager among men, Juan Soto has impressed his teammates on the Washington Nationals with his maturity and, even more so, his potent bat.

Soto hit a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning, and Washington beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 Thursday night in the deciding matchup of a three-game interleague series between neighboring rivals.

Soto, a 19-year-old rookie, is batting .326 with 16 RBIs in 28 games. Starting in the cleanup spot for the first time, he drew a walk and delivered the game's pivotal hit.

"I think we're all amazed every single day," Washington ace Max Scherzer said. "He puts together great ABs. He has antics and has some flair. He's a great young player. He's just enjoying himself."

Bryce Harper led off the eighth with a double off Mychal Givens (0-4) and Trea Turner followed with a single. After Anthony Rendon struck out, Soto hit a liner into the gap in left-center.

"He's got unbelievable poise," Nationals manager Dave Martinez said of Soto. "No matter what the situation is, he goes out there with a game plan."

Whatever that plan is, it's effective.

"I just try to be focused and keep working," Soto said.

Rendon homered for the Nationals, who received seven strong innings from Scherzer and flawless work from their bullpen.

Newcomer Kelvin Herrera (1-0) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and Sean Doolittle got three straight outs for his 20th save in 21 tries.

Seeking to end a rare run of two straight losses, Scherzer left a tied game after allowing two runs -- both on solo homers -- and striking out nine.

Afterward, the right-hander heaped praise upon Soto for the manner in which he's adapted to playing in the big leagues.

"He has a great feel for the strike zone," Scherzer said. "To have that type of eye, it's remarkable for him to be able to do that at this time and this age and this level."

Activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, Colby Rasmus homered for the Orioles in his first at-bat since April 6.

"Me and Max, we go way back, so I felt real good," said Rasmus, who had been sidelined with a hip injury.

In addition, Rasmus made an outstanding throw from right field to the plate, nailing Wilmer Difo on a tag-up play in the seventh inning with the score tied.

Mark Trumbo also homered for Baltimore, his sixth of the season and third in four games.

Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman gave up two runs and four hits over six innings. The right-hander was lifted with the score tied, leaving him winless in his last seven starts.

MORE NATS COVERAGE: 

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How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

How drawing up a play in the interview process helped sell the Wizards on Troy Brown

While meeting with Oregon's Troy Brown during the pre-draft interview process, evaluators from the Washington Wizards issued him an on-the-spot challenge. Head coach Scott Brooks pulled out a dry-erase clipboard and a pen. He wanted to see Brown draw up a play.

This is a test Brooks has administered before to other players. Some have failed miserably.

"It sounds easy to throw a board at somebody in front of a big group and say 'okay draw a play' and I have seen many plays drawn, and I have seen it where there are not five players on the floor," Brooks said.

That wasn't the case with Brown. He didn't just draw up one play, he drew up several. One in particular came to mind when asked by reporters on Thursday night soon after the Wizards took him 15th overall in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“I think it was a situation where we were down by two or something like that," he said. "It was like a back screen into a slip, and then the fade three and they gave you a lot of various options to cause mismatches on the court for a last minute shot to either go ahead, or even attack the basket for a layup to go into overtime.”

NBC Sports Washington analyst Cory Alexander, a veteran of seven NBA seasons, demonstrated what Brown's play looked like on a whiteboard:

The Xs and Os of basketball flow effortlessly for Brown and Wizards' brass couldn't help but be impressed.

"He really understands the game. I think for a kid that is 18 years old, that is rare but he just has a good feel," Brooks said. 

"We were impressed with his character and the type of person he is and his basketball knowledge," team president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Obviously, like any young player, he has a lot of work to do but he has a lot of the intangibles that I think you need in today's game."

Smarts are a big part of what makes Brown a good basketball player. He isn't a particularly explosive athlete, with a modest 33-inch max vertical leap, but he boasts a 6-foot-10 wingspan and solid agility. Being in the right place at the right time and knowing how to operate an offense helps him make the most of his natural abilities.

Passing is where his basketball IQ comes in handy. Brown is unusually good at distributing for a 6-foot-7 small forward. He averaged 3.2 assists as a freshman at Oregon and nine times had five assists or more in a game.

He can pass like a point guard and the Wizards are excited to implement that skill into their offense.

"Passing is contagious. We’ve been pretty good the last two years and with talking about that how we even want to take another step," Brooks said. "He has the ability to make a lot of quick plays and his ball handling is pretty good for a guy his size. That is one thing I was impressed in his workout last week or when we had him. He is able to take the contact and use his strong frame to get inside the key and make plays.”

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