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Seahawks can't afford drops in rematch with 49ers

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Seahawks can't afford drops in rematch with 49ers

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Drops.

A problem that plagued Seattle's wide receivers in the past hasn't been an issue for most of this season. The one time it became a problem was in the Seahawks' first meeting against the San Francisco 49ers in October. The two teams play again Sunday night in Seattle in a key NFC game.

According to STATS LLC, the Seahawks have the fifth-fewest drops in the league this season. Through 14 games Seattle has just 19 drops. The San Diego Chargers have the fewest with 15. Last year, the Seahawks were tied for 14th with 27 drops on the season.

Golden Tate was targeted three times against the 49ers and didn't make a catch. It was the only game this season when he didn't have a reception. Both of Tate's drops this season came against San Francisco. With Seattle holding a 6-3 lead, Tate bobbled a third-down pass that would have kept the chains moving into San Francisco territory early in the third quarter.

Backup running back Robert Turbin broke free behind the 49ers' defense in the first quarter for what would have been a big gain and possibly a touchdown. But the pass slid through his fingers.

In a game decided by just a touchdown, the missed chances proved costly for the Seahawks. If Seattle wants to end the 49ers' four-game winning streak in the series, it can't make the same mistakes this Sunday.

Tate said going catch-less in the loss to the 49ers left a bad taste.

``For me it was tough. The last time we played them was a Thursday night game, so we had the whole weekend to think about it. Had a little time off, so it was frustrating to think about it. I was ready to get that one out of my system for the next week,'' Tate said.

``I want to be a player that we count on - a consistent player more importantly. Really I've just been trying to be consistent. That game I showed inconsistency.''

Quarterback Russell Wilson wasn't fazed and never showed outward frustration over the inability of his receivers to hang on to the football.

``He's not going after anybody, he's not going to get bothered by it, and he's just going to go to the next play,'' coach Pete Carroll said. ``He really believes that something is going to happen there. It's easy for him in essence because his mindset is so strong, so that doesn't affect him at all.''

Wilson was just 9 of 23 for 122 yards and an interception against the 49ers. His 38.7 passer rating against San Francisco is his lowest mark this season. Yet Wilson doesn't see the point of dwelling on a missed opportunity.

``There's times where you're like, `Oh man I wish he caught it' ... You have emotions but the key is staying even-keeled as possible, I think,'' Wilson said.

``I let the receivers know I'm coming right back to them. You don't think that they're not going to catch the next one, so you've got to keep playing.''

Seattle's offense has greatly improved since the initial meeting in October. Wilson has a passer rating of 111.3 over the seven games following the loss to the 49ers, throwing 13 touchdown passes and just two interceptions while Seattle has gone 5-2.

With the Seahawks able to clinch a playoff berth with a win, they are looking forward to judging how far they've come in the last seven weeks. For Tate, it's a chance to finally wash the bad taste from his mouth.

``We didn't play our best game the last time we played them, so to get another chance in such a crucial moment of the season is going to show everyone everything they want to know,'' Tate said. ``We're definitely excited about it.''

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Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

Otto Porter Jr. begins 2018-19 season with way too few shot attempts in Wizards' loss

The initiative to get Otto Porter Jr. more attempts from three this season is not off to a great start.

That right there is called an understatement. Because it would be one thing if Porter only took a couple of them, but he literally took zero against the Heat on Thursday night in the Wizards' 2018-19 regular season opener.

Yes, one of the NBA's best three-point shooters didn't even get off a single attempt from long range. That is simply hard to justify, especially after a preseason in which the team had a stated goal to shoot more threes than ever before.

It wasn't just threes. The often deferential Porter was even more gun shy than normal. He only took seven total shots in the 113-112 loss and topped out at just nine points.

Porter, in fact, had just one field goal attempt until there was 1:19 remaining in the first half, when he got two of them on the same play thanks to a rebound on his own miss.

Porter still affected the game in other ways, per usual. He had 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks and finished +1 in +/- rating.

But for Porter to reach the next level as a player, he has to add volume to his efficient scoring numbers.

"We will look at the film and figure it out," head coach Scott Brooks said. "It's not like we go into the game wanting to only shoot 26 threes [as a team] and Otto shoot zero."

Brooks continued to say the problem is a combination of several things. More plays could be called for Porter and his teammates could look for him more often.

But ultimately, it's up to Porter to assert himself and take initiative. Granted, that may have been easier said than done against the Heat, who boast one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball in Josh Richardson. They are a scrappy team with athletic and hard-nosed defenders on the wing.

For Porter, though, that shouldn't matter. Ultimately, his share of the offense is up to him. The ball is going to swing around often enough for him to create his own opportunities.

Porter only taking seven shots is a bad sign considering Thursday was a better opportunity to get shots than he may receive in most games. The Wizards added Dwight Howard this summer and last season he averaged 11.2 shots per game, 3.4 more than Marcin Gortat, whom he replaced in the starting lineup.

It won't be easy, but the Wizards need Porter to take matters into his own hands.

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Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

Despite late penalty, Todd Reirden doesn’t want to see Nathan Walker change his game

The Caps looked like they were in good shape in the third period on Wednesday. With a 3-2 lead in the final frame against a New York Rangers team that had played the night before, Washington looked like they were starting to wear down the blue shirts and tilt the ice in their favor.

But everything changed just before the midway point of the period.

Nathan Walker, in the lineup for the first time since Oct. 4, chased down Neal Pionk behind the Rangers net as Pionk went to collect the puck. Walker put his arms around the Rangers’ defenseman to slow him up and he was called for holding.

“That was the safest thing possible for me to do is to wrap him up and take him in the corner like that,” Walker said to NBC Sports Washington on Friday. “Personally, I didn't think it was a good call on the ref's side, but that's the way it goes.”

Just over a minute later, Chris Kreider deflected a shot that was going wide past Braden Holtby for the power play goal to tie the game at 3.

A third period mistake that tied the game from a player in and out of the lineup could have been a devastating moment for Walker, but head coach Todd Reirden was adamant after the game that he did not want Walker to lose his aggressiveness or change the way he plays as a result of Wednesday’s mistake.

“I insert him to be aggressive and his intensity was something we needed,” Reirden said. “I thought he won a lot of puck battles earlier in the game and at different points. He's pursuing the puck trying to force a turnover and it ends up as a call against. That's I think a tough call in that situation, but we're able to pick him up and if there's a guy on our team that we want to rally around and try to come back for, it's someone like that with a work ethic and just commitment and dedication and how he is as a teammate.”

Luckily for Walker, the Caps were still able to get the win thanks to Matt Niskanen’s overtime goal. Those were nervous moments for him watching as the team tried to overcome his mistake.

“It's definitely nerve-wracking for sure,” Walker said. “You kind of feel like you're the reason why they got back into the game. I personally thought we were all over them in the third period up until they got that goal. I think we still played really well, but obviously the play with the lead is a lot nicer than playing tied up 10 minutes to go in the third. It was nerve-wracking, but it was good that the guys came through and we got the two points at the end of the day so that's the main thing.”

The fact that Walker’s mistake did not end up costing the team will make it easier for Reirden’s message to sink in. It’s his aggressiveness that makes him valuable. One mistake should not make him change that aspect of his game.

Said Reirden, “It's something that if he stops hunting pucks and creating havoc up ice then he's just a very average player that's going to find himself in and out of the league.”

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