Nationals

Schwartz takes blame for challenge mistake

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Schwartz takes blame for challenge mistake

DETROIT (AP) Jim Schwartz held the challenge flag in his hand, certain Houston's long touchdown wouldn't count. Running back Justin Forsett was clearly down around his own 25-yard line, and that's where the ball would be spotted once the play was reviewed.

Then Schwartz threw his red flag onto the field - and in doing so, he ensured that the Texans' dubious scoring play would count.

``I know that we can't challenge a turnover or a scoring play and I overreacted,'' the Detroit coach said. ``That's all my fault. I overreacted in that situation and I cost us a touchdown.''

Schwartz's mistake was only the beginning. Detroit let a 10-point third-quarter lead slip away and lost 34-31 in overtime to the Texans on Thursday.

The Lions led 24-14 when Forsett scored on an 81-yard run, taking advantage of a blown call that couldn't be reviewed because of Schwartz's ill-advised challenge. Replays clearly showed Forsett's knee touching the ground around his own 25 - Detroit players even slowed up, assuming the play was over.

Forsett got up and ran all the way to the end zone.

``I know now that I was down, but I didn't think I was during the play. I didn't think my knee hit, and there was no whistle, so I kept going,'' Forsett said. ``I wasn't giving the touchdown back.''

Scoring plays are reviewed automatically - but if a coach throws a challenge flag like Schwartz did, the review is negated and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty is assessed. So the touchdown stood despite obvious evidence it should never have happened.

``There should be no blame on Schwartz or the coaches,'' Detroit defensive lineman Kyle Vanden Bosch said. ``I mean, there's enough plays left out there, enough plays that we could have made. There were 70-plus minutes.''

Atlanta coach Mike Smith made a similar mistake a few days earlier against Arizona, throwing his challenge flag on a fumble that would've been subject to review anyway. Under the rules, he was assessed the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the play was not reviewed, costing the Falcons a chance to get the ball back.

Detroit (4-7) still led 24-21 after Forsett's touchdown, and the Lions took a 31-24 advantage on Joique Bell's 23-yard TD run with 13:31 left in the fourth.

Houston rallied, tying it at 31 on Arian Foster's 1-yard run with 1:55 to play. That touchdown capped a 15-play, 97-yard drive that included a conversion on fourth-and-7.

Texans kicker Shayne Graham missed from 51 yards in overtime, but Detroit's Jason Hanson hit the right upright from 47. Graham finally connected from 32 to win it.

Detroit extended its losing streak in its annual Thanksgiving showcase to nine. Vanden Bosch had a chance to change the outcome in overtime, but he was unable to hold onto an errant pass by Houston quarterback Matt Schaub that bounced off the defensive lineman's hands deep in Houston territory.

``It's going to be really tough to forget that one,'' Vanden Bosch said.

Hanson's miss came on third down after the Lions had lost 3 yards on a second-down run. The Lions sent the veteran kicker onto the field instead of trying to move the ball a bit closer.

``We didn't want to give up a negative play, and they'd been trying really hard to strip the ball, so we didn't want to risk a turnover,'' Schwartz said.

The Lions were hoping a three-game homestand could help revive their playoff hopes, but they lost against Green Bay last weekend and couldn't hold on against the Texans.

AFC South-leading Houston (10-1) has won five straight - two in a row in OT - and if a handful of teams lose, the Texans could be in the playoffs by the end of this weekend.

If the Lions didn't have enough problems, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh could be in trouble with the league again after his left cleat connected with Schaub's groin area in the first quarter.

``I really don't have anything to say about that play or that person,'' Schaub said.

Suh was on his chest, taken down by an offensive lineman, when he extended his left foot below Schaub's belt.

It wasn't clear on replays whether the kick was intentional. Suh didn't stick around long enough to talk to reporters after the game.

Last year on Thanksgiving, Suh was ejected for stomping on the right arm of Green Bay offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith and was suspended for two games. He has been fined in previous seasons for roughing up quarterbacks: Cincinnati's Andy Dalton, Chicago's Jay Cutler and Cleveland's Jake Delhomme.

Schaub stayed in the game, and was 29 of 48 for 315 yards with a 9-yard TD to Owen Daniels that tied it at 14 late in the first half. He also threw an interception.

Houston's Andre Johnson had nine receptions for 188 yards.

Detroit's Matthew Stafford was 31 of 61 for 441 yards with two TDs - tiebreaking scores to Calvin Johnson and Mike Thomas in the second quarter. It wasn't enough.

``We got what we deserved,'' Stafford said. ``We didn't capitalize on our chances.''

NOTES: Lions OT Jeff Backus (right hamstring) was inactive, ending his 186-game starting streak. ... Houston LB Brooks Reed (left groin) and OT Derek Newton (knee) were injured during the game.

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

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How to entice Bryce Harper in to re-signing with the Nationals? With food, of course!

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach… and if that leads us to Bryce Harper’s potential landing spot, then I present to you the yummiest reasons he should stay with the Washington Nationals.

In a video from TMZ, a paparazzi follows Harper to baggage claim and implores him for any hints toward where he is signing this offseason. The only true answer he got was that Harper likes a place called Steak 48 in Chicago. This surf-and-turf hot spot in the River North neighborhood of downtown Chicago has the audacity to serve “Maryland STYLE lump crab cakes.” Really, Bryce? Will the real thing convince you?!

On that note, let’s start off with the seafood we have to offer. This is the Mid-Atlantic, after all.

How can you work here April-September without eating local crabs in some form? I think that’s impossible. You can choose from hard shell or soft shell, but no shame in either game.

Live Chesapeake blue crabs can be bought at Captain White’s Seafood and other vendors on The Wharf off Maine Avenue. Otherwise, you can sit down and have them steamed for you at Quarterdeck, Ivy City Smokehouse, Bethesda Crab House or Captain Pell’s.

If Harper is more of a soft shell guy, all of those places also serve out-of-the-park crab cakes, but you can’t go wrong with Hank’s Oyster Bar, Old Ebbitt Grill, Chris’ Marketplace, or Clyde’s.

If the star really wants to dive in to local taste, he should eat Chesapeake Bay oysters from the largest estuary in America. My personal favorite selection is at Whaley’s (seafood tower on me, Bryce), but Rapphanock Oyster Bar, The Dabney, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and Black’s Bar & Kitchen can’t be beat.

I find it hard to believe the team hasn't had an outing at The Salt Line, the lively seafood spot just a short throw from Nats Park where teammate Ryan Zimmerman is an investor and co-owner.

Now that we’ve satisfied Harper’s iron intake, let’s break down his protein. In order to keep the superstar here, I want to make sure he knows that D.C. cares about providing a well-rounded diet.

Barbecued meats in general around here are delectable. Sitting in juxtaposition between the north and south, D.C. restaurants bring a mash-up of styles of smoked and sauced meats. Favorites are Federalist Pig, Hill Country, Fat Pete’s and Hardy’s BBQ truck.

However, if Bryce Harper show he’s as invested in authentic Nationals fans as our season tickets are in him, he should really pick up a half-smoke, the district’s original recipe for a spicy, thicker pork and beef dog that’s aggressively seasoned and sometimes served with chili sauce.

Could you imagine Harper making his announcement to stay over a half-smoke at Ben’s Chili Bowl? I think even the panda statue would cry tears of joy.

Another hyper-local taste is mumbo sauce. While proven not originally from here, D.C. natives are enthusiastic about the special sauce. Yum’s is pretty well-known for carrying it.

Time for dessert! I think we can all agree that in the past 10 years, cupcakes have become iconic in the district with Georgetown Cupcakes, Baked & Wired and Sprinkles all having a home in Georgetown. To settle the debate, Baked & Wired is best. They are ranked #1 on Yelp if you don’t believe my own palette.

But what if it’s game night, you ask? D.C. has it’s hearty share of restaurants that are open even after extra innings. The Diner, Kramerbooks, Mandu, New Big Wong, Old Ebbitt Grill, Oyamel Cocina Mexicana, Amsterdam Falafelshop and Jumbo Slice are all here to keep you warm at night no matter what you’re craving post-victory. Need I go on?

Bryce reassured Nats fans and TMZ that he is “still a National right now.” Better eat these while you can, Bryce, or you’ll be sorry you didn't sign in one of the best food cities in the MLB.

Do you have any local food or restaurants you think will convince Bryce Harper to stay with the Washington Nationals this offseason? Send them to @NBCNationals or @rmhopmayer. Maybe we can throw together a friends-giving or holiday dinner for those that want him to stay our beloved Guest of Honor.

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park. 

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